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Long and lean and sharp of tooth comes winter in its chill,
Deep and void the nights become, the wind grows fierce and shrill.
Time seems slowed to crawl by all the darkness and the cold,
Rights and feasts and vigils mark traditions from of old.
Frosty air brings misery to those who walk abroad,
Many sit and shiver, wishing that the world were thawed.

Yet in this ice and cold arises vision of new life,
Softness and a warmth that rises from the frozen strife.
A rose blooms in the cold and dark, a hint of far off spring,
Reminding that the trees will someday blossom, and birds sing.
A star shines in the frigid night, and bathes the fallen snow,
Light carrying promise to those who now wait below.

And that long night, that shortest day, itself is but a sign,
An apex of the shadows, a respite from the divine.
From the start of winter we begin its slow demise,
The days from there grow longer, slowly, as if by surprise;
The bleak and dead midwinter cold now lives on borrowed time,
Each new day of winter hastens to a milder clime.

Winter, thus, is death, and yet a flower blooms within,
And there is promise still that all the world shall live again.
What is begun in wintertime will not end in despair
But shall yet have its victory, its triumph bright and fair.
Come, cruel winter, come, and so thus hasten your demise,
Come so that the spring may come, and all the earth arise.

—C. A. Shoultz

Photo by Karen Blaha via Creative Commons. Image cropped. 

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