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Featured Poem: Winter by Robert Southey

Written by Lisa Spurgin, 3rd December 2018

The Reader's Director of Communities and Communications, Sophie Clarke, shares her thoughts on this week's Featured Poem, Winter by Robert Southey.

Looking out of my window here in Calderstones Park today, it feels there could be no better poem to conjure up the strange, mysterious feelings that come with watching the season taking a dark and windy turn at this time of year. Reading it for the first time, I’m immediately wondering who is in this poem – who is picturing Old Winter in that first line, who are they?

There’s a much softer voice here too, who brings a gentle sense of care and warmth towards Old Winter, and I love that image on lines 5 and 6 of him:

Close muffled up, and on thy dreary way
Plodding alone through sleet and drifting snows.

It draws me in and makes me think of that very lonely feeling that walking in  bad weather can give you, of feeling like a little speck when the weather takes a dark and rugged turn.

It’s a poem that asks for another read and that leaves me thinking about the contrast of feelings and experiences that can come along with the winter months. Definitely one to try in my Shared Reading group this week!


A wrinkled crabbed man they picture thee,
Old Winter, with a rugged beard as grey
As the long moss upon the apple-tree;
Blue-lipt, an icedrop at thy sharp blue nose,
Close muffled up, and on thy dreary way
Plodding alone through sleet and drifting snows.
They should have drawn thee by the high-heapt hearth,
Old Winter! seated in thy great armed chair,
Watching the children at their Christmas mirth;
Or circled by them as thy lips declare
Some merry jest, or tale of murder dire,
Or troubled spirit that disturbs the night,
Pausing at times to rouse the mouldering fire,
Or taste the old October brown and bright.

by Robert Southey

Would you like the opportunity to read this or other poems in a Shared Reading group?

If you like the idea of listening along to story or poem, why not come along to a Shared Reading group? We run groups across the UK, you can find one near you here.

If you can’t find a group in your local community, why not help us bring Shared Reading to your area by becoming a volunteer?

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