Winter Nears (Boris Pasternak)

Winter nears. Once more
the bear’s secret retreat
will vanish under mud’s floor,
to a child’s fretful grief.

Huts will wake in the water,
reflecting paths of smoke,
circled by autumn’s tremor
lovers meet by the fire to talk.

Denizens of the harsh North
whose roof is the clear air,
‘In this sign conquer’, set forth,
marks each unreachable lair.

I love you, provincial haunts,
off the map, the road, past the farms,
the more tired and faded the book,
the greater for me its charms.

Slow files of carts lumbering by
you spell out an alphabet flowing
from meadow to meadow. And I
found you always my favourite reading.

And it’s suddenly written again,
here in first snow is the spider’s
cursive script, runners of sleighs,
where ice on the page embroiders.

A silvered hazel October.
Pewter glow since frost began.
Autumn twilight, of Chekhov,
Tchaikovsky, and Levitan.

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