Thomas Hardy’s skill in setting the snow-bound scene is made the more engaging by the introduction of the sparrow and the black cat.


Every branch big with it,

Bent every twig with it;

Every fork like a white web-foot;

Every street and pavement mute:

Some flakes have lost their way, and grope back upward, when

Meeting those meandering down they turn and descend again.

The palings are glued together like a wall,

And there is no waft of wind with the fleecy fall.


A sparrow enters the tree,

Whereupon immediately

A snow-lump thrice his slight size

Descends on him and showers his head and eyes,

And overturns him

And near inurns him,

And lights on a nether twig, when its brush

Starts off a volley of other lodging lumps with a rush.


The steps are a blanched slope,

Up which, with feeble hope,

A black cat comes, wide-eyed and thin;

And we take him in.