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Sleighing Song
John Shaw


When calm is the night, and the stars shine bright,
  The sleigh glides smooth and cheerily;
       And mirth and jest abound,
       While all is still around,
       Save the horses’ trampling sound,
  And the horse-bells tinkling merrily.

But when the drifting snow in the traveller’s face shall blow,
  And hail is driving drearily,
       And the wind is shrill and loud,
       Then no sleigh shall stir abroad,
       Nor along the beaten road
  Shall the horse-bells tinkle merrily.

But to-night the skies are clear, and we have not to fear
  That the time should linger wearily;
       For good-humor has a charm
       Even winter to disarm,
       And our cloaks shall wrap us warm,
  And the bells shall tinkle merrily.

This poem is in the public domain.


John Shaw (1778 - 1809) was born in Maryland, studied medicine at the Universities of Pennsylvania and Edinburgh, and served as a physician and ship surgeon in the U.S. Navy before establishing a private practice in Baltimore. Successful and widely respected, he was instrumental in founding the College of Medicine at the University of Maryland. By all accounts a charming and modest man, John was fluent in several languages and wrote poetry on an ongoing basis. He also kept notes about his travels. Had he lived longer, critics surmize that John might have developed into a writer of significant standing. Unfortunately, he died at the age of thirty on a ship en route from Charleston, South Carolina, to the Bahamas--a voyage undertaken, ironically, in the hope of healing his tuberculosis; his small body of work was published posthumously by a group of his friends.


Post New Comment:
Such a lovely poem picture.
Posted 12/30/2014 11:29 AM
"And our cloaks shall wrap us warm." It is 31 degrees below zero here in Pinedale, Wyoming, this morning.
Posted 12/30/2014 08:36 AM
Larry Schug:
If I'd have died at 30, there would be no poems or anything else in my legacy. John Shaw must not have spent much time sleeping in his short life to accomplish so much. Time is so precious, eh?
Posted 12/30/2014 08:02 AM
I like the sound, and lack of sound, of the ride: While all is still around, Save the horses’ trampling sound, And the horse-bells tinkling merrily.
Posted 12/29/2014 11:48 PM

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