“A Country Boy in Winter” by Sarah Orne Jewett

The Grammaticus blog is no stranger to the works of Sarah Orne Jewett. Her novella The Country of the Pointed Firs is one of my favourite books, and I wrote about it in the review accessible here. In this post we’ll read one of her winter-themed children’s poems: A Country Boy in Winter, first published in 1882.

The poem’s narrator is Jack—a country boy who just can’t have enough of winter. While the grown-ups may complain about the cold, that’s nothing to him as there are so many fun activities he gets to do in the snow. The final two stanzas, however, shift the theme of the poem. It stops being about the winter, and changes into the boy’s commitment to stay in the country. Unlike others who dream of moving to the big city, all he wants is to stay on the old family farm and become a farmer himself.

Sarah Orne Jewett has a lovely way of portraying the country life, without falling into the trap of romanticising it. In this poem she hints at the transition from boyhood to manhood as a passage from carefree existence filled with playful joy into a life of hard work that is the fate of farming men.

The wind may blow the snow about,
  For all I care, says Jack,
And I don't mind how cold it grows,
  For then the ice won't crack.
Old folks may shiver all day long,
  But I shall never freeze;
What cares a jolly boy like me
  For winter days like these?

Far down the long snow-covered hills
  It is such fun to coast,
So clear the road! the fastest sled
  There is in school I boast.
The paint is pretty well worn off,
  But then I take the lead;
A dandy sled's a loiterer,
  And I go in for speed.

When I go home at supper-time,
  Ki! but my cheeks are red!
They burn and sting like anything;
  I'm cross until I'm fed.
You ought to see the biscuit go,
  I am so hungry then;
And old Aunt Polly says that boys
  Eat twice as much as men.

There's always something I can do
  To pass the time away;
The dark comes quick in winter-time--
  A short and stormy day
And when I give my mind to it,
  It's just as father says,
I almost do a man's work now,
  And help him many ways.

I shall be glad when I grow up
  And get all through with school,
I'll show them by-and-by that I
  Was not meant for a fool.
I'll take the crops off this old farm,
  I'll do the best I can.
A jolly boy like me won't be
  A dolt when he's a man.

I like to hear the old horse neigh
  Just as I come in sight,
The oxen poke me with their horns
  To get their hay at night.
Somehow the creatures seem like friends,
  And like to see me come.
Some fellows talk about New York,
  But I shall stay at home.


  • use the poem to practise modal verbs: the concessive may, will and shall, ought
  • focus on winter-related vocabulary; elicit / brainstorm other activities
  • use the poem as an introduction to a discussion on country vs city life (elicit benefits and drawbacks; compare and contrast)
  • discuss the idea of home


Sarah Orne Jewett board on the Grammaticus Pinterest profile

The essential snowy weather vocabulary


Snowballing by John Morgan (1822–1885).

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