Claude McKay: “The Snow Fairy”

ZP_January 20th 2014_A

Claude McKay (1889-1948)

The Snow Fairy”



Throughout the afternoon I watched them there,

Snow-fairies falling, falling from the sky,

Whirling fantastic in the misty air,

Contending fierce for space supremacy.

And they flew down a mightier force at night,

As though in heaven there was revolt and riot,

And they, frail things had taken panic flight

Down to the calm earth seeking peace and quiet.

I went to bed and rose at early dawn

To see them huddled together in a heap,

Each merged into the other upon the lawn,

Worn out by the sharp struggle, fast asleep.

The sun shone brightly on them half the day,

By night they stealthily had stol’n away.



And suddenly my thoughts then turned to you

Who came to me upon a winter’s night,

When snow-sprites round my attic window flew,

Your hair disheveled, eyes aglow with light.

My heart was like the weather when you came,

The wanton winds were blowing loud and long;

But you, with joy and passion all aflame,

You danced and sang a lilting summer song.

I made room for you in my little bed,

Took covers from the closet fresh and warm,

A downful pillow for your scented head,

And lay down with you resting in my arm.

You went with Dawn. You left me ere the day,

The lonely actor of a dreamy play.

ZP_January 20th 2014_B

Editor’s note:

The Snow Fairy” is taken from Claude McKay’s poetry collection Harlem Shadows, published in 1922, and one of the first books of The Harlem Renaissance. Its form is the traditional English sonnet – each verse an iambic pentametre, and the end-word rhyme pattern being ababcdcdefefgg in a 14-verse stanza. McKay wrote numerous nuanced and delicate poems but was also capable of using the sonnet form to convey an inspirational rallying cry, as in his sonnet “If We Must Die”, composed in 1919 during the “Red Summer” race riots in the USA.

Claude McKay in his 20s

Claude McKay in his 20s

For more Winter poems by Claude McKay click here:

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