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On a Night of Snow

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Poem Activity

Have fun with the poem by trying this...

It may help to know the meaning of these words in the poem: ‘Marguerite’ is a daisy. ‘Intoning’ means singing. ‘Hoar’ means covered with frost. ‘Portents’ are signs of things to come. Enjoy saying these unusual words aloud.

Have you spotted that the poem is a conversation between the ‘mistress’ (who speaks the first 8 lines) and the cat (that speaks the last 6 lines)? How do they see the snow differently?

A 14 line poem with a rhyming pattern is called a sonnet. You could write out or print the poem and use coloured pens to highlight words that rhyme together. Find the pattern they make.

Now try and write your own sonnet where a person and an animal have a conversation about something they see differently. 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 creating 14 nice even 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