Twelve beautiful winter poems

A selection of classic and contemporary poems about winter from Robert Frost, Gillian Clarke, Edgar Allen Poe and more to enjoy during the coldest season.

Winter is a starkly beautiful season. With frosty mornings, bright, crisp days and powdery snow it's easy to see how it has inspired poets throughout history. Here, we've curated a selection of classic and contemporary winter poems from Robert Frost's much-loved poem 'Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening' to 'In the Bleak Midwinter', the poem by Christina Rossetti on which the Christmas carol is based.

Discover our edit of the best poetry books.


Robert Louis Stevenson

Late lies the wintry sun a-bed,

A frosty, fiery sleepy-head;

Blinks but an hour or two; and then,

A blood-red orange, sets again.

Before the stars have left the skies,

At morning in the dark I rise;

And shivering in my nakedness,

By the cold candle, bathe and dress.

Close by the jolly fire I sit

To warm my frozen bones a bit;

Or with a reindeer-sled, explore

The colder countries round the door.

When to go out, my nurse doth wrap

Me in my comforter and cap;

The cold wind burns my face, and blows

Its frosty pepper up my nose.

Black are my steps on silver sod;

Thick blows my frosty breath abroad;

And tree and house, and hill and lake,

Are frosted like a wedding cake.

A Poem for Every Winter Day

by Allie Esiri

Book cover for A Poem for Every Winter Day

This beautiful collection is full of verses that will transport you to sparkling winter scenes, with poems for Christmas, New Year's Eve and Valentine's Day. The poems are selected from Allie Esiri’s bestselling poetry anthologies A Poem for Every Day of the Year and A Poem for Every Night of the Year, including poems by  Mary Oliver, Edgar Allan Poe, Thomas Hardy, E. E. Cummings, Robert Burns, Joseph Coelho, George the Poet, Benjamin Zephaniah and Jackie Kay. 


Emily Brontë

The night is darkening round me,

The wild winds coldly blow;

But a tyrant spell has bound me

And I cannot, cannot go.

The giant trees are bending

Their bare boughs weighed with snow.

And the storm is fast descending,

And yet I cannot go.

Clouds beyond clouds above me,

Wastes beyond wastes below;

But nothing drear can move me;

I will not, cannot go.

Appears in A Poem for Every Winter Day, edited by Allie Esiri. 

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Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

Robert Frost

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.


Appears in A Poem for Every Night of the Year, edited by Allie Esiri.



Gillian Clarke 

The dreamed Christmas,
flakes shaken out of silences so far
and starry we can’t sleep for listening
for papery rustles out there in the night
and wake to find our ceiling glimmering,
the day a psaltery of light.

So we’re out over the snow fields
before it’s all seen off with a salt-lick
of Atlantic air, then home at dusk, snow-blind
from following chains of fox and crow and hare,
to a fire, a roasting bird, a ringing phone,
and voices wondering where we are.

A day foretold by images
of glassy pond, peasant and snowy roof
over the holy child iconed in gold.
Or women shawled against the goosedown air
pleading with soldiers at a shifting frontier
in the snows of television,

while in the secret dark a fresh snow falls
filling our tracks with stars.

Selected Poems

by Gillian Clarke

Book cover for Selected Poems

Over the past four decades, Gillian Clarke's work has examined nature, womanhood, art, music, Welsh history – and always with the lyric and imagistic precision by which her poetry is instantly recognisable. Perhaps her greatest inspiration is the Welsh landscape and all the human stories that it hosts: as UK Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy has said, 'Gillian Clarke's outer and inner landscapes are the sources from which her poetry draws its strengths'.


A Winter Bluejay

Sara Teasdale

Crisply the bright snow whispered,
Crunching beneath our feet;
Behind us as we walked along the parkway,
Our shadows danced,
Fantastic shapes in vivid blue.
Across the lake the skaters
Flew to and fro,
With sharp turns weaving
A frail invisible net.
In ecstasy the earth
Drank the silver sunlight;
In ecstasy the skaters
Drank the wine of speed;
In ecstasy we laughed
Drinking the wine of love.
Had not the music of our joy
Sounded its highest note?
But no,
For suddenly, with lifted eyes you said,
“Oh look!”
There, on the black bough of a snow flecked maple,
Fearless and gay as our love,
A bluejay cocked his crest!
Oh who can tell the range of joy
Or set the bounds of beauty?


Appears in A Poem for Every Winter Day, edited by Allie Esiri. 

The Bells

Edgar Allen Poe

Hear the sledges with the bells --
            Silver bells!
What a world of merriment their melody foretells!
      How they tinkle, tinkle, tinkle,
          In the icy air of night!
      While the stars that oversprinkle
      All the heavens, seem to twinkle
          With a crystalline delight;
        Keeping time, time, time,
        In a sort of Runic rhyme,
To the tintinnabulation that so musically wells
   From the bells, bells, bells, bells,
              Bells, bells, bells --
 From the jingling and the tinkling of the bells.

Read the full poem in A Poem for Every Day of the Year, edited by Allie Esiri. 

A Poem for Every Day of the Year

by Allie Esiri

Book cover for A Poem for Every Day of the Year

This beloved and bestselling collection compiled by Allie Esiri includes 366 magnificent poems, one for each day of the year. Reflecting the changing seasons and linking to events on key dates – funny for April Fool's Day, festive for Christmas – these poems are thoughtful, inspiring, humbling, informative, quiet, loud, small, epic, peaceful, energetic, upbeat, motivating, and empowering! This warm and soulful book is the perfect gift that will last the whole year, with a little bit of magic to read every day.


Blow Blow Thou Winter Wind

William Shakespeare

Blow, blow, thou winter wind,
  Thou art not so unkind
     As man’s ingratitude;
  Thy tooth is not so keen,
Because thou art not seen,
     Although thy breath be rude.
Heigh-ho! sing, heigh-ho! unto the green holly:
Most friendship is feigning, most loving mere folly:
  Then, heigh-ho, the holly!
     This life is most jolly.

  Freeze, freeze, thou bitter sky,
  That dost not bite so nigh
     As benefits forgot:
  Though thou the waters warp,
     Thy sting is not so sharp
     As friend remembered not.
Heigh-ho! sing, heigh-ho! unto the green holly...


Appears in As You Like It, Act II Scene VII.

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At the Solstice

Shaun O'Brien

We say Next time we’ll go away,
But then the winter happens, like a secret

We’ve to keep yet never understand
As daylight turns to cinema once more:

A lustrous darkness deep in ice-age cold,
And the print in need of restoration

Starting to consume itself
With snowfall where no snow is falling now.

Or could it be a cloud of sparrows, dancing
In the bare hedge that this gale of light

Is seeking to uproot? Let it be sparrows, then,
Still dancing in the blazing hedge,

Their tender fury and their fall,
Because it snows, because it burns.


The Beautiful Librarians

by Sean O'Brien

Book cover for The Beautiful Librarians

Each poem in The Beautiful Librarians opens on a wholly different room, vista or landscape, each drawn with Sean O'Brien's increasingly refined sense of tone, history and rhetorical assurance. It is a celebration of those unsung but central figures in our culture, often overlooked by both capital and official account – infantrymen, wrestlers, old lushes in the hotel bar – but none more heroic than the librarians of the title. 


Winter Morning

Richard Meier

Shyly coated in greys, blacks, browns -
to keep us out of sight of the cold -
we weren't expecting this this morning: sun

and shadows, like a summer's evening, like summer
teasing. And not quite under the shelter on
the northbound platform, an old man, the sun

behind him, just his crown ablaze; and heading
southbound, a woman inching ever nearer
the platform edge, the light a tear

across her midriff, ribcage, shoulders, closer


by Richard Meier

Book cover for Misadventure

Misadventure is a book about what we learn, and what we refuse to learn: although Meier’s poems are often deceptively quiet in their address, the reader will soon discover a poet capable of illuminating the darkest corners of our lives by the very lightest of touches, and an ear simultaneously attuned to the lyric poem and the cadence of real speech.


The Darkling Thrush

Thomas Hardy

I leant upon a coppice gate
            When Frost was spectre-gray,
And Winter’s dregs made desolate
             The weakening eye of day.
The tangled bine-stems scored the sky
             Like strings of broken lyres,
And all mankind that haunted nigh
             Had sought their household fires.


Poems of Thomas Hardy

by Thomas Hardy

Book cover for Poems of Thomas Hardy

Thomas Hardy saw himself, first and foremost, as a poet, and he wrote poetry throughout his prolific and acclaimed novel-writing years before announcing in 1896 that he would no longer write novels, much to the astonishment of his worldwide readership. Instead he went on to publish eight masterful volumes of poetry – ranging from lyrics and ballads to dramatic monologues and satire - and is now regarded as one of the greatest twentieth-century poets.

The Dipper

Kathleen Jamie

It was winter, near freezing,
I'd walked through a forest of firs
when I saw issue out of the waterfall
a solitary bird.


It lit on a damp rock,
and, as water swept stupidly on,
wrung from its own throat
supple, undammable song.

It isn't mine to give.
I can't coax this bird to my hand
that knows the depth of the river
yet sings of it on land.

Selected Poems

by Kathleen Jamie

Book cover for Selected Poems

Kathleen Jamie’s Selected Poems gathers together some of the finest work by one of the foremost poets currently writing in English. Although Jamie is perhaps best known for her writing on nature, landscape, and place, Selected Poems shows the full and remarkably diverse range of her work – and why many regard her work as crucially relevant to our troubled age.

 In the Bleak Midwinter

Christina Rossetti

In the bleak midwinter
Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
Snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter

Long ago.
Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him,
Nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away
When He comes to reign.
In the bleak midwinter
A stable place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty,
Jesus Christ.

Appears in A Poem for Every Winter Day, edited by Allie Esiri. 

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Book cover for Poems on Nature

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