Thomas Wentworth Higginson (1823-1911)

"Mr. Higginson is a voluminous writer both in prose and verse, and has published several volumes. The sonnets I have selected are from The Afternoon Landscape, just published by Messrs. Longmans." (Sharp)

Read a sonnet addressed to him by William Braithwaite.

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The Snowing of the Pines

Softer than silence, stiller than still air,
Float down from high pine boughs the slender leaves.
The forest floor its annual boon receives
That comes like snowfall, tireless, tranquil, fair.
Gently they glide, gently they clothe the bare
Old rocks with grace. Their fall a mantle weaves
Of paler yellow than autumnal sheaves
Or those strange blossoms the witch-hazels wear.
Athwart long aisles the sunbeams pierce their way;
High up, the crows are gathering for the night;
The delicate needles fill the air; the jay
Takes through their golden mist his radiant flight;
They fall and fall, till at November's close
The snow-flakes drop as lightly--snows on snows.

The Baby Sorceress

My baby sits beneath the tall elm-trees,
A wreath of tangled ribbons in her hands;
She twines and twists the many-coloured strands,--
A little sorceress, weaving destinies.
Now the pure white she grasps; now naught can please
But strips of crimson, lurid as the brands
From passion's fires; or yellow, like the sands
That lend soft netting to the azure seas.
And so with sweet, incessant toil she fills
A summer hour, still following fancies new,
Till through my heart a sudden terror thrills
Lest, as she weaves, her aimless choice prove true.
Thank God! our Fates proceed not from our wills:
The Power that spins the thread shall blend the hue.

(Text from American Sonnets)