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On a Night of Snow

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Poem Activity

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It may help you to know the meaning of the following words in the poem: ‘Marguerite’ is a daisy. ‘Intoning’ means singing. ‘Hoar’ means covered with frost. ‘Portents’ are signs of things to come. Go back and reread the conversation between the ‘mistress’ (the first 8 lines) and the cat (the last 6 lines) A 14 line poem with a rhyming pattern is called a ‘sonnet’. Now try and write your own 14 line poem (sonnet) where a person and an animal have a conversation. See if you can create a pattern of rhymes like in this poem but don’t worry if you can’t think of rhymes just concentrate on the 14 lines.

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Cat, if you go outdoors, you must walk in the snow.
You will come back with little white shoes on your feet,
little white shoes of snow that have heels of sleet.
Stay by the fire, my Cat. Lie still, do not go.
See how the flames are leaping and hissing low,
I will bring you a saucer of milk like a marguerite,
so white and so smooth, so spherical and so sweet–
stay with me, Cat. Outdoors the wild winds blow.

Outdoors the wild winds blow, Mistress, and dark is the night,
strange voices cry in the trees, intoning strange lore,
and more than cats move, lit by our eyes’ green light,
on silent feet where the meadow grasses hang hoar–
Mistress, there are portents abroad of magic and might,
and things that are yet to be done. Open the door!

On a Night of Snow

by Elizabeth Coatsworth