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Walter de la Mare

The Children of Stare

Winter is fallen early

On the house of Stare;

Birds in reverberating flocks

Haunt its ancestral box;

Bright are the plenteous berries

In clusters in the air.

Still is the fountain's music,

The dark pool icy still,

Whereon a small and sanguine sun

Floats in a mirror on,

Into a West of crimson,

From a South of daffodil.

'Tis strange to see young children

In such a wintry house;

Like rabbits' on the frozen snow

Their tell-tale footprints go;

Their laughter rings like timbrels

'Neath evening ominous:

Their small and heightened faces

Like wine-red winter buds;

Their frolic bodies gentle as

Flakes in the air that pass,

Frail as the twirling petal

From the briar of the woods.

Above them silence lours,

Still as an arctic sea;

Light fails; night falls; the wintry moon

Glitters; the crocus soon

Will ope grey and distracted

On earth's austerity:

Thick mystery, wild peril,

Law like an iron rod:

Yet sport they on in Spring's attire,

Each with his tiny fire

Blown to a core of ardour

By the awful breath of God.