“I dig old books.” ™
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.
What a wild winter sound,— wild and weird, up among the ghostly hills.... I get up in the middle of the night to hear it. It is refreshing to the ear, and one delights to know that such wild creatures are among us. At this season Nature makes the most of every throb of life that can withstand her severity. ~John Burroughs, "The Snow-Walkers," 1866
Spring, summer, and fall fill us with hope; winter alone reminds us of the human condition. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Second Neurotic’s Notebook, 1966
The life of man is a winter away. ~Witts Recreations: Selected from the Finest Fancies of Modern Muses, with A Thousand Outlandish Proverbs, edited by George Herbert
But Fielding lived when the days were longer (for time, like money, is measured by our needs), when summer afternoons were spacious, and the clock ticked slowly in the winter evenings. ~George Eliot, Middlemarch
When the great sun has turned his face away,
The earth goes down into the vale of grief,
And fasts, and weeps, and shrouds herself in sables,
Leaving her wedding-garlands to decay—
Then leaps in spring to his returning kisses...
~Charles Kingsley, Junior, The Saint’s Tragedy; or, The True Story of Elizabeth of Hungary, Landgravine of Thuringia, Saint of the Romish Calendar
Winter is a time of promise because there is so little to do — or because you can now and then permit yourself the luxury of thinking so. ~Stanley Crawford, A Garlic Testament: Seasons on a Small New Mexico Farm, 1992
One kind word can warm three winter months. ~Japanese Proverb
The sunbeams are welcome now. They seem like pure electricity—like friendly and recuperating lightning. Are we led to think electricity abounds only in summer, when we see in the storm-clouds as it were, the veins and ore-beds of it? I imagine it is equally abundant in winter, and more equable and better tempered. Who ever breasted a snowstorm without being excited and exhilarated, as if this meteor had come charged with latent auroræ of the North, as doubtless it has? It is like being pelted with sparks from a battery. ~John Burroughs, "Winter Sunshine"
Of winter’s lifeless world each tree
Now seems a perfect part;
Yet each one holds summer’s secret
Deep down within its heart.
~Charles G. Stater
Winter is nature’s way of saying, "Up yours." ~Robert Byrne
One of my current pet theories is that the winter is a kind of evangelist, more subtle than Billy Graham, of course, but of the same stuff. ~Shirley Ann Grau
Winter came down to our home one night
Quietly pirouetting in on silvery-toed slippers of snow,
And we, we were children once again.
~Bill Morgan, Jr.
All sounds are sharper in winter; the air transmits better. At night I hear more distinctly the steady roar of the North Mountain. In summer it is a sort of complacent purr, as the breezes stroke down its sides; but in winter always the same low, sullen growl. ~John Burroughs, "The Snow-Walkers," 1866
The color of springtime is in the flowers; the color of winter is in the imagination. ~Terri Guillemets, "Wintermind," 2007
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
I hide myself in the quiet white of winter and
nestle in her comforting folds of cold oblivion.
Flowers have their fragrance, winter has its handful of memories. ~Lin Huiyin (1904–1955), "Sitting in Quietude," translated by Michelle Yeh
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
Ham and green beans in my evening rice, with a glass of that good blackcherry wine on the side. Hibernation is a fine art! ~David J. Beard (1947–2016), tweet, 2010 January 30th
If we thatch ourselves too thickly from winter, we miss all the music of storms. ~Henry Stanley Haskins, "Prudence," Meditations in Wall Street, 1940
It’s peeking ’round the corner,
playing hide and seek —
I see its icy fingers,
a frost’d rosy cheek.
Autumn’s air is chilling
warmth no longer lingers
the wild things are stilling
colors mute and blur.
[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
Not everything is black or white
Some things are lonely grey
Like windows looking out on rain at dusk
Or the bitter pain in winter skies
when all the birds are gone...
~H. Joanne Hardee, from "Some Things Are Grey," in Our Western World's Most Beautiful Poems, edited and published by John Campbell, World of Poetry Press, 1985
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"
How beautiful thy frosty morn,
When brilliants gem each feathery thorn!
How fair thy cloudless noon!
And through the leafless trees, at night,
With more than Summer's soften'd light,
Shines thy resplendent moon.
~Bernard Barton, "Stanzas on the Approach of Winter" (stanza VIII), Napoleon and Other Poems, 1822
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)
The earth tucked herself in for the year with winter's frosty white blanket of snow. ~Terri Guillemets
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
the soft twinkle of a snowflake hitting the ground;
the silence of winter mornings. gentle, calm, serene.
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
MidWinter's Eve! Tonight the Sun kisses the southern tropic and turns north. Hope and good cheer to all on this wintry side of our world! ~David J. Beard (1947–2016), tweet, 2007 December 21st
In the rush of early morning,
When the red burns through the gray,
And the wintry world lies waiting
For the glory of the day...
~Louisa May Alcott, "Merry Christmas," in The Horn of Plenty, 1876
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
Winter was hard that year. The bitter cold was so biting that it froze up the wind in the depths of the sky. The countryside shivered in silence. There was not a cloud in the sky. Every morning a russet sun rose in silence. With a few indifferent paces it strode across the whole breadth of the sky and day was over. Night heaped up the stars like grain. ~Jean Giono (1895–1970), Regain, 1930, translated from the French by Henri Fluchè and Geoffrey Myers, Harvest, 1939 [a little altered
Winter winds sweep away the dead leaves of our lives. ~Terri Guillemets, "Release," 2002
This brilliant silence of winter is most touching, might I not say musical? How different it is from that of a starry night in June, which in mute eloquence proclaims repose! In this is power, an appeal to thought, strangely mingled with one to active energy. ~Henry James Slack (1818–1896), The Ministry of the Beautiful, "Conversation XI: A Winter Landscape," 1850 [Edith speaking
He withers all in silence, and in his hand
Unclothes the earth and freezes up frail life.
~William Blake (1757-1827), "To Winter"
I am grateful for the silence of winter mornings, for the beauty and wonder of the glint of sunlight in frost melting to dew, for the early-riser's peaceful solitude that sets a mood of thankfulness, hope, and calm for the dawning day. ~Terri Guillemets
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
Winter starves our bellies but nourishes our souls. ~Terri Guillemets
Everything was frozen up and silent that morning. Even the wind was silent, but not really dead. It waved about a little and beat its tail gently against the hard sky. There was no sun yet. The sky was empty. It was all frozen up, like a sheet hanging out in the frost. ~Jean Giono (1895–1970), Regain, 1930, translated from the French by Henri Fluchè and Geoffrey Myers, Harvest, 1939
June suns, you cannot store them To warm the winter’s cold...
Winter is a lean, scrappy fighter. Spring blossoms from the sweat of Winter's brow. ~Terri Guillemets
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
In Winter, Mother Nature dims the lights, sleeps late, hides from the world, and regenerates. Winter is the hangover of seasons. ~Terri Guillemets
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
Winter allows us to wrap up in the comforting scarf of healing, but we must slow down to allow its magic. ~Terri Guillemets, "The warmth & stillness," 2009
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
Winter is the slow-down
Winter is the search for self
Winter gives the silence you need to listen
Winter goes gray so you can see your own colors...
February is merely as long as is needed to pass the time until March. ~J.R. Stockton
We are accustomed to consider Winter the grave of the year, but it is not so in reality. In the stripped trees, the mute birds, the disconsolate gardens, the frosty ground, there is only an apparent cessation of Nature's activities. Winter is pause in music, but during the pause the musicians are privately tuning their strings, to prepare for the coming outburst. When the curtain falls on one piece at the theatre, the people are busy behind the scenes making arrangements for that which is to follow. Winter is such pause, such fall of the curtain. Underground, beneath snow and frost, next spring and summer are secretly getting ready. The roses which young ladies will gather six months hence for hair or bosom, are already in hand. In Nature there is no such thing as paralysis. Each thing flows into the other, as movement into movement in graceful dances Nature's colours blend in imperceptible gradation all her notes are sequacious. ~Alexander Smith, "Winter," 1863
If winter wrote an autobiography, it would be mostly about the spring. ~Terri Guillemets
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
The sugar covered landscapes of winter are breathtaking. Nothing can match the crystal clear silence of a winter morning or the sea smoke rising off a bay in soft tendrils. There is a special quality, not only to the scenery, but also to the quieter pace of life. Winter's peace is incomparable. ~Maine's DownEast & Acadia Regional Tourism (downeastacadia.com, visitmaine.com)
sparks of love
rich hot cocoa
in festive mugs
~Terri Guillemets, "Winter heat," 2008
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
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
...the ember and firesmoke shades of winter twilight... ~Terri Guillemets
Winter is not a season, it’s an occupation. ~Sinclair Lewis
Winter is simple
no clutter, no color
a blanket of snow
reminds us to rest
Then comes Winter, with bluster and snow,
That brings to our cheeks the ruddy glow...
~Gertrude Tooley Buckingham, "The Four Seasons" (1940s)
The last faded autumn leaflet hangs from a frozen branch, just a short fall from the tree to winter. ~Terri Guillemets
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
In winter, forgive the fallen leaves of your past. ~Terri Guillemets, "Leaving behind," 2013
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 a white-gray paradise blunted of details. The simple season. ~Terri Guillemets
The two women walked cautiously over the path of hardened snow, planting their feet firmly and carefully. Watching their own steps, watching each other's. In winter the very ground seemed to reach up and grab the elderly, yanking them to earth as though hungry for them. Shattering a hip or wrist, or neck. Best to take it slow. ~Louise Penny, Bury Your Dead, 2010
Winter is on my head, but eternal spring is in my heart. ~Victor Hugo
Winter is the gray, bare shell of spring. ~Terri Guillemets
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,
Winter afternoons –
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
Winter stars blaze in silent joy. ~Terri Guillemets
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
Resist winter as you will — the cold will come. ~Terri Guillemets