celebrating 17 years online 1998-2015
Quotations about Winter
I've had such fun compiling these quotations about winter over the past few decades. Thanks to Google Books I've been able to better check the accuracy on some of the older ones, as well as find several "new" quotes from years ago that have been forgotten until the modern digitalization of the books they called home. Here in the desert we don't get much — if any — of this season called Winter so I take great pleasure in reading about snow and cold weather and the conditions that make being cozy and safe even more special and appreciated. Please enjoy the fruits of my labor of love! P.S. Thanks to Mike Garofalo of gardendigest.com for kindly letting me borrow a few quotes from his collection as well.
The color of springtime is in the flowers; the color of winter is in the imagination. ~Terri Guillemets
Winter is the season in which people try to keep the house as warm as it was in the summer, when they complained about the heat. ~Author Unknown
Let there be a cottage.... a real cottage... a white cottage, embowered with flowering shrubs, so chosen as to unfold a succession of flowers upon the walls, and clustering round the windows through all the months of spring, summer, and autumn—beginning, in fact, with May roses, and ending with jasmine. Let it, however, not be spring, nor summer, nor autumn—but winter, in his sternest shape. This is a most important point in the science of happiness. And I am surprised to see people overlook it, and think it matter of congratulation that winter is going; or, if coming, is not likely to be a severe one. On the contrary, I put up a petition annually, for as much snow, hail, frost, or storm, of one kind or other, as the skies can possibly afford us. Surely every body is aware of the divine pleasures which attend a winter fire-side: candles at four o’clock, warm hearth-rugs, tea, a fair tea-maker, shutters closed, curtains flowing in ample draperies on the floor, whilst the wind and rain are raging audibly without... ~Thomas De Quincey, Confessions of an English Opium-Eater
Winter must be cold for those with no warm memories. ~From the movie An Affair to Remember, written by Delmer Daves, Donald Ogden Stewart, Leo McCarey, and Mildred Cram
Brew me a cup for a winter’s night.
For the wind howls loud, and the furies fight;
Spice it with love and stir it with care,
And I’ll toast your bright eyes, my sweetheart fair.
~Minna Thomas Antrim, "A Night Cap," A Book of Toasts, 1902
I was just thinking, if it is really religion with these nudist colonies, they sure must turn atheists in the wintertime. ~Will Rogers
One faire day in winter makes not birds merrie. ~Witts Recreations: Selected from the Finest Fancies of Modern Muses, with A Thousand Outlandish Proverbs, edited by George Herbert
Blow, blow, thou Winter Wind,
Thou art not so unkind, as Man’s Ingratitude...
~William Shakespeare, As You Like It
In the winter she curls up around a good book and dreams away the cold. ~Ben Aaronovitch, Broken Homes
[A] winter evening.... fruits which cannot be ripened without weather stormy or inclement, in some way or other. I am not "particular," as people say, whether it be snow, or black frost, or wind so strong, that (as Mr.— says) "you may lean your back against it like a post." I can put up even with rain, provided it rains cats and dogs: but something of the sort I must have: and, if I have it not, I think myself in a manner ill-used: for why am I called on to pay so heavily for winter, in coals, and candles, and various privations that will occur even to gentlemen, if I am not to have the article good of its kind?... [A] winter night... must be divided by a thick wall of dark nights from all return of light and sunshine.—From the latter weeks of October to Christmas-eve, therefore, is the period during which happiness is in season, which, in my judgment, enters the room with the tea-tray... ~Thomas De Quincey, Confessions of an English Opium-Eater
The English winter—ending in July,
To recommence in August...
There are two seasons in Scotland: June and Winter. ~Billy Connolly
Welcome, winter. Your late dawns and chilled breath make me lazy, but I love you nonetheless. ~Terri Guillemets
The Winter’s cheek flushed as if he had drained
Spring, Summer, and Autumn at a draught...
~Edward Thomas (1878-1917), "The Manor Farm"
Though it was scarcely six o’clock, the night was already pitch-dark. The fog, made thicker by its proximity to the Seine, blurred every detail with its ragged veils, punctured at various distances by the reddish glow of streetlamps and threads of light escaping from illuminated windows. The rain-drenched pavement glistened under the lamps like a lake reflecting strings of lights. A bitter wind, heavy with sleet, whipped at my face, its howling forming the high notes of a symphony whose bass was played by swollen waves crashing into the piers of the bridges below. The evening lacked none of winter’s rough poetry. ~Théophile Gautier, translated from French (compiled from multiple translations)
When dark December glooms the day,
And takes our autumn joys away...
[W]inter tames man, woman and beast.... ~William Shakespeare, The Taming of the Shrew (Grumio)
It is said that in a certain faraway land the cold is so intense that words freeze as soon as they are uttered, and after some time thaw and become audible, so that words spoken in winter go unheard until the next summer. ~Author Unknown
Now winter nights enlarge
The number of their hours;
And clouds their storms discharge
Upon the airy towers...
~Thomas Campion, The Third Booke of Ayres
Let now the chimneys blaze
And cups o’erflow with wine...
The summer hath his joys,
And winter his delights;
Though love and all his pleasures are but toys,
They shorten tedious nights.
~Thomas Campion, The Third Booke of Ayres
Our destiny often looks like a fruit-tree in winter. Who would think from its pitiable aspect that those rigid boughs, those rough twigs could next spring again be green, bloom, and even bear fruit? Yet we hope it, we know it. ~Johann Wolfgang Goethe, Wilhelm Meister’s Travels, translated from German by A.H. Gunlogson, from the later and enlarged edition
Winter giveth the fields, and the trees so old,
Their beards of icicles and snow...
~Charles duc d’Orléans, translated by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
In winter there is no heat, no light, no noon, evening touches morning, there is fog, and mist, the window is frosted, and you cannot see clearly. The sky is but the mouth of a cave. The whole day is the cave.... Frightful season! Winter changes into stone the water of heaven and the heart of man. ~Victor Hugo, Les Misérables: Fantine, translated from French by Chas. E. Wilbour
I like these cold, gray winter days. Days like these let you savor a bad mood. ~Bill Watterson
...Winter, the aged chief,
Mighty in power,
Exiles the tender leaf,
Exiles the flower.
~Robert Fuller Murray (1863–1894), "A December Day," The Scarlet Gown: Being Verses by a St. Andrews Man, 1891
Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home. It is no season in which to wander the world as if one were the wind blowing aimlessly along the streets without a place to rest, without food, and without time meaning anything to one, just as time means nothing to the wind. ~Edith Sitwell
He withers all in silence, and in his hand
Unclothes the earth and freezes up frail life.
~William Blake (1757-1827), "To Winter"
How many lessons of faith and beauty we should lose, if there were no winter in our year! ~Thomas Wentworth Higginson, "April Days," 1861
What good is the warmth of summer without the cold of winter to give it sweetness. ~Author Unknown
June suns, you cannot store them To warm the winter’s cold...
Winter is a long, open time. The nights are as dark as the end of the world. ¶ The elk that you glimpse in the summer, those at the forest edge, are survivors of winter, only the strongest. You see one just before dusk that summer, standing at the perimeter of the meadow so it can step back to the forest and vanish. You can’t help imagining the still, frozen nights behind it, so cold that the slightest motion is monumental. I have found their bodies, half drifted over in snow, no sign of animal attack or injury. Just toppled over one night with ice working into their lungs. You wouldn’t want to stand outside for more than a few minutes in that kind of weather. If you lived through only one of those winters the way this elk has, you would write books about it. You would become a shaman. You would be forever changed. That elk from the winter stands there on the summer evening, watching from beside the forest. It keeps its story to itself. ~Craig Childs, The Animal Dialogues: Uncommon Encounters in the Wild
[M]y age is as a lusty winter,
Frosty, but kindly.... (Adam)
[H]ow well in thee appears
The constant service of the antique world;
When service sweat for duty, not for meed! (Orlando)
~William Shakespeare, As You Like It
The autumn twilight turned into deep and early night as they walked. Tristran could smell the distant winter on the air—a mixture of night-mist and crisp darkness and the tang of fallen leaves.... the crescent moon hung white in the sky and the stars burned in the darkness above them. ~Neil Gaiman, Stardust
The days are short
The sun a spark
Hung thin between
The dark and dark.
~John Updike, "January," A Child’s Calendar, 1965
It is a spur that one feels at this season more than at any other. How nimbly you step forth! The woods roar, the waters shine, and the hills look invitingly near. You do not miss the flowers and the songsters, or wish the trees or fields any different, or heavens any nearer. Every object pleases.... the straight light-gray trunks of the trees... how curious they look, and as if surprised in undress. ~John Burroughs, "Winter Sunshine"
Are the days of winter sunshine just as sad for you, too? When it is misty, in the evenings, and I am out walking by myself, it seems to me that the rain is falling through my heart and causing it to crumble into ruins. ~Gustave Flaubert
February is merely as long as is needed to pass the time until March. ~J.R. Stockton
I watch the springs, the summers, the autumns;
And when comes the winter snow monotonous,
I shut all the doors and shutters
To build in the night my fairy palace.
~Charles Baudelaire, "Paysage," compiled from multiple translations
Never are voices so beautiful as on a winter’s evening, when dusk almost hides the body,
and they seem to issue from nothingness with a note of intimacy seldom heard by day. ~Virginia Woolf, Night and Day
In stormy fashion
Ends the dark season;
The wind's in a passion
Out of all reason.
Winter, so loth to go,
Howls, spitting out the snow,
Like froth of madness.
~Danske Dandridge, "The End of Winter," in Country Life in America: A Magazine for the Home-maker, the Vacation-seeker, the Gardener, the Farmer, the Nature-teacher, the Naturalist, April 1902
Winter is not a season, it’s an occupation. ~Sinclair Lewis
Then comes Winter, with bluster and snow,
That brings to our cheeks the ruddy glow...
~Gertrude Tooley Buckingham, "The Four Seasons" (1940s)
What nutriment can I extract from these bare twigs? Starvation stares me in the face. "Nay, nay," said a nuthatch, making its way, head downward, about a bare hickory close by, "The nearer the bone, the sweeter the meat.... If at any time the weather is too bleak and cold for you, keep the sunny side of the trunk, for a wholesome and inspiring warmth is there, such as the summer never afforded...." "Hear! hear!" screamed the jay from a neighboring tree, where I had heard a tittering for some time, "winter has a concentrated and nutty kernel, if you know where to look for it."... [A] red squirrel... came running down a slanting bough, and as he stopped twirling a nut, called out rather impudently, "Look here! just get a snug-fitting fur coat and a pair of fur gloves like mine, and you may laugh at a northeast storm." ~Henry David Thoreau, Nov. 8, 1858
Winter is the king of showmen,
Turning tree stumps into snowmen
And houses into birthday cakes
And spreading sugar over lakes.
Smooth and clean and frosty white,
The world looks good enough to bite.
That’s the season to be young,
Catching snowflakes on your tongue.
Snow is snowy when it’s snowing,
I’m sorry it’s slushy when it’s going.
Winter is on my head, but eternal spring is in my heart. ~Victor Hugo
In winter-time visions of Spring and Summer are conjured at will by poets... ~Helen Rose Anne Milman Crofton, My Kalendar of Country Delights, "Prelude," 1903
There's a certain Slant of light,
That oppresses, like the Heft
Of Cathedral Tunes—
Heavenly Hurt, it gives us—
We can find no scar,
But internal difference,
Where the Meanings, are....
When it comes, the Landscape listens—
Shadows—hold their breath—
When it goes, 'tis like the Distance
On the look of Death.
~Emily Dickinson, c.1861
Winter, then in its early and clear stages, was a purifying engine that ran unhindered over city and country, alerting the stars to sparkle violently and shower their silver light into the arms of bare upreaching trees. It was a mad and beautiful thing that scoured raw the souls of animals and man, driving them before it until they loved to run. And what it did to Northern forests can hardly be described, considering that it iced the branches of the sycamores on Chrystie Street and swept them back and forth until they rang like ranks of bells. ~Mark Helprin, Winter’s Tale, 1983
Thus sometimes hath the brightest Day a Cloud;
And after Summer, evermore succeeds
Barren Winter, with his wrathful nipping Cold...
~William Shakespeare, King Henry VI
The shed of leaves became a cascade of red and gold and after a time the trees stood skeletal against a sky of weathered tin. The land lay bled of its colors. The nights lengthened, went darker, brightened in their clustered stars. The chilled air smelled of woodsmoke, of distances and passing time. Frost glimmered on the morning fields. Crows called across the pewter afternoons. ~James Carlos Blake, Wildwood Boys
The Spirit of Gardening