The Snow-Storm by Ralph Waldo Emerson

The Snow-Storm

Announced by all the trumpets of the sky,
Arrives the snow, and, driving o’er the fields,
Seems nowhere to alight; the whited air
Hides hills and woods, the river, and the heaven,
And veils the farm-house at the garden’s end.
The sled and traveller stopped, the courier’s feet
Delayed, all friends shut out, the housemates sit
Around the radiant fireplace, enclosed
In a tumultuous privacy of storm.

Come see the north wind’s masonry.
Out of an unseen quarry evermore
Furnished with tile, the fierce artificer
Curves his white bastions with projected roof
Round every windward stake, or tree, or door.
Speeding, the myriad-handed, his wild work
So fanciful, so savage, nought cares he
For number or proportion. Mockingly,
On coop or kennel he hangs Parian wreaths;
A swan-like form invests the hidden thorn;
Fills up the farmer’s lane from wall to wall,
Maugre the farmer’s sighs; and at the gate
A tapering turret overtops the work.
And when his hours are numbered, and the world
Is all his own, retiring, as he were not,
Leaves, when the sun appears, astonished Art
To mimic in slow structures, stone by stone,
Built in an age, the mad wind’s night-work,
The frolic architecture of the snow.

Thoreau College: An Experiment in Holistic Higher Education

Thoreau College is a microcollege in Viroqua, Wisconsin where artists and activists from ages 18 to 46 live and learn together in an intentional community. Thoreau College is working to create immersive, impactful, personalized higher education that is also financially accessible. The college currently has academic courses in regenerative agriculture, writing composition, political philosophy, and visual arts. In addition to internships and classes, each student and faculty participates in self-governance of all college programs including admissions, outreach, curriculum design, and operating the business aspect of a greenhouse called Thoreau’s Garden.

Thoreau College is currently hosting a range of programs including the Metamorphosis Year, a full-time program for young adults seeking to challenge and develop themselves through engagement with academics, labor, community, art, and nature. The college is also organizing a three-week summer program for fifteen people that will include a week-long farm stay and an intensive workshop as an introduction to permaculture.

Reported and produced by Chloe Peterson-Nafziger (Stanford Environmental Communication M.A. ’22, Current Fellow at Thoreau College) Learn more at