by Geoffrey Hill (b. 1932)
When snow like sheep lay in the fold And wind went begging at the door, And the far hills were blue with cold, And a cloud shroud lay on the moor, She kept the siege. And every day We watched her brooding over death Like a strong bird above its prey. The room filled with the kettle's breath. Damp curtains glued against the pane Sealed time away. Her body froze As if to freeze us all, and chain Creation to a stunned repose. She died before the world could stir, In March the ice unloosed the brook And water ruffled the sun's hair. Dead cones upon the alder shook.