Ethelwyn Wetherald (1857-1940)

See biographical information at A Celebration of Women Writers.

Texts below from A Century of Canadian Sonnets.

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Now that the earth has hid her lovely brood
Of green things in her breast safe out of sight,
And all the trees have stripped them for the fight,
The winter comes with wild winds singing rude,
Hoarse battle songs--so furious in feud
That nothing lives that has not felt their bite.
They sound a trumpet in the dead of night
That makes more solitary solitude.

Against the forest doors how fierce they beat!
Against the porch, against the school-bound boy
With crimson cheek bent to his shaggy coat.
The earth is pale but steadfast, hearing sweet
But far--how far away!--the stream of joy
Outpouring from a bluebird's tender throat.


O Master-Builder, blustering as you go
About your giant work, transforming all
The empty woods into a glittering hall,
And making lilac lanes and footpaths grow
As hard as iron under stubborn snow,
Though every fence stand forth a marble wall,
And windy hollows drift to arches tall,
There comes a might that shall your might o'erthrow.
Build high your white and dazzling palaces,
Strengthen your bridges, fortify your towers,
Storm with a loud and a portentious lip;
And April with a fragmentary breeze,
And half a score of gentle, golden hours,
Shall leave no trace of your stern workmanship.

The Snow-Storm

The great, soft, downy snow-storm like a cloak
Descends to wrap the lean world head to feet;
It gives the dead another winding-sheet,
It buries all the roofs until the smoke
Seems like a soul that from its clay has broke;
It broods moon-like upon the Autumn wheat,
And visits all the trees in their retreat,
To hood and mantle that poor shiv'ring folk.
With wintry bloom it fills the harshest grooves
In jagged pine-stump fences. Every sound
It hushes to the footstep of a nun.
Sweet Charity! that brightens where it moves,
Inducing darkest bits of churlish ground
To give a radiant answer to the sun.

In the Crowd

Here in the crowded city's busy street,
Swayed by the eager, jostling, hasting throng,
Where Traffic's voice grows harsher and more strong,
I see within the stream of hurrying feet
A company of trees in their retreat,
Dew-bathed, dream-wrapped, and with a thrush's song
Emparadizing all the place, along
Whose paths I hear the pulse of Beauty beat.
'Twas yesterday I walked beneath the trees,
To-day I tread the city's stony ways;
And still the spell that o'er my spirit came
Turns harshest sounds to shy bird ecstasies,
Pours scent of pine through murky chimney haze,
And gives each careworn face a woodland frame.


Dear grey-winged angel, with the mouth set stern
And time-devouring eyes, the sweetest sweet
Of kisses when two severed lovers meet
Is thine; the cruellest ache in hearts that yearn,
The fears that freeze, the hopes that leap and burn,
Thine--thine! And thine the drum-and-trumpet beat
Of hearts that wait for unreturning feet,
When comes at last the hour of their return.

Of Love's fair ministers thou art the chief.
To jaded souls, asleep beside their vows,
Thou givest hopes, keen joys and vague alarms;
Beneath thy touch the brown and yellow leaf
Turns to pink blossom, and the spring-bright boughs
Frame lovers running to each other's arms.