Once I was Pure.

Oh! the snow, the beautiful snow,
Filling the sky and the earth below!
Over the house-tops, over the street,
Over the heads of the people you meet,
Dancing, flirting, skimming along;
Beautiful snow, it can do nothing wrong.
Flying to kiss a fair lady’s cheek:
Clinging to lips in a frolicsome freak;
Beautiful snow, from the heavens above,
Pure as an angel and fickle as love!

Oh! the snow, the beautiful snow,
How the flakes gather and laugh as they go
Whirling about in its maddening fun,
It plays in its glee with every one!
Chasing, laughing, hurrying by.
It lights up the face, and it sparkles the eye;
And even the dogs, with a bark and a bound,
Snap at the crystals that eddy around.
The town is alive, and its heart in a glow,
To welcome the coming of beautiful snow.

How the wild crowd goes swaying along,
Hailing each other with humor and song:
How the gay sledges, like meteors, flash by—
Bright for a moment, then lost to the eye,
Ringing, swinging, dashing they go,
Over the crest of the beautiful snow—
Snow so pure when it falls from the sky,
To be trampled in mud by the crowd rushing by,
Trampled and tracked by thousands of feet,
Till it blends with filth in the horrible street

Once I was pure as the snow—but I fell!
Fell like the snow-flakes, from heaven to hell!
Fell to be trampled as filth of the street,
Fell to be scoffed, to be spit on, and beat:
Pleading, cursing, dreading to die,
Selling my soul to whoever would buy;
Dealing in shame for a morsel of bread,
Hating the living and fearing the dead:
Merciful God! have I fallen so low?
Yet I was once like the beautiful snow!

Once I was fair as the beautiful snow,
With an eye like its crystal, heart like its glow;
Once I was loved for my innocent grace,
Flattered and sought for the charms of my face,
Father, mother, sisters, all,
God and myself, I have lost by my fall!
The veriest wretch that goes shivering by,
Takes a wide sweep, lest I wander too nigh;
For all that is on or about me, I know
There’s nothing so pure as the beautiful snow.

How strange it should be that beautiful snow
Should fall on a sinner, with nowhere to go
How strange it should be, when night comes again,
If snow and the ice struck my desperate brain!
Fainting, freezing, dying alone,
Too wicked for prayer, too weak for my moan
To be heard in crazy town,
Gone mad in the joy of snow coming down,
To lie and to die in my terrible wo,
With a bed and a shroud of beautiful snow
Lansingburgh Democrat. February 23, 1860: 1 col 1.
Troy Daily Times. December 4, 1858: 4 col 1. (As “Beautiful Snow”)
Troy Weekly Times. December 11, 1858: 4 col 1. (As “Beautiful Snow” and credited to Harpers Weekly)
Troy Daily Whig.. December 23, 1865: 4 col 1. (As “The Snow.”)

—The Rochester Democrat asks for the name of the author of “Beautiful Snow,” one of the most touching and beautiful fugitive poems extant. If our memory serves us, it is the production of Mrs. Elizabeth Akers, better known under the nom de plume of Florence Percy.
“Personal.” Troy Daily Times. July 13, 1864: 2 col 2.

“THE TAIL OF A PUP.”—”Oh! the snow, the beautiful snow,” will soon boast as many parodies as “Excelsior.” List to these imaginative lines on “The Tail of a Pup:”
Oh the pup, the beautiful pup!
Drinking his milk from a beautiful cup,
Gambling around so frisky and free,
First gnawing a bone, then biting a flea,
After the pony!
Beautiful purp, you will soon be Bologna.
Troy Daily Whig.. September 19, 1867: 4 col 1.

—The papers have commenced publishing again the “Beautiful Snow” poem. Seasonable and beautiful, but for a steady winter’s diet it isn’t intellectually palatable.
“Local Brevities.” Troy Daily Whig.. December 17, 1868: 3 col 1.

—It snows cried the school boy,
Who lived in a shoe.
They put him in a pumpkin shell
And didn’t know where to find him.
The above beautiful lines so expressive of the wild joy of youth at the first appearance of “the snow, the snow, the beautiful snow,” arose involuntarily to our mind from our boyish memories, as we trundled along under a dripping umbrella, through the slush that began falling about 1 o’clock this morning.
“Homespun.” Troy Daily Whig.. November 15, 1870: 3 col 2. (The “beautiful lines” mangle “It Snows,” “There was an Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe,” “Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater,” and “Little Bo-Peep.”)

—Sleighs are slipping over the snow-covered streets to-day. The sleighing is poor, however, and cannot unless reinforced by more snow last [sic] more than the day. The storm last night will hardly justify the reproduction of the much quoted poem, “The snow, the beautiful snow,” and we have laid it aside for future use.
“City Notes.” Troy Daily Times. December 14, 1871: col 1.


Evidences of Depraved Poetical and Moral Taste—Sentimental Cincinnatians on the Rampage.

(From the Cincinnati Enquirer.)

“A note from two or three constant readers requests us to republish the poem entitled ‘Beautiful Snow.’ We have no recollection of ever having published such a poem, and we doubt whether there is one in existence bearing that title. There must be a mistake. If any person now living can put us on the track of ‘Beautiful Snow’ we will be obliged to them for so doing.”
The next day the Enquirer contained the following:
“There is a poem entitled ‘Beautiful Snow.’ We have reason to know it now if we never had before. We remember reading it some ten years ago. That must have been shortly after Messrs. Faxon, Watson, Major Sigourney, Prof. Venable, Enos Reed, Dora Shaw and one or two other unfortunate persons, whose names we can’t recall now, turned it out upon the public. We always admired it, but considering the number of people engaged in its construction, it isn’t such a remarkable production. However, in deference to public opinion, we have religiously published that poem every Winter, from that time to the present. In our editorial capacity we have incurred an expense of not less than one hundred dollars for composition on that one piece of poetry alone, and that is a great deal more than it cost to compose it originally. Having, as we thought, supplied the demand, and placed at least a half dozen copies of that intensely popular versification in very household, we concluded to lay off this Winter. But day before yesterday, we received a request to publish it. It was the same old request—couched in the same old familiar language. We were little exasperated, because a great many newspapers keep the poem standing at the head of the first column on the title page, and we knew that there could be no extraordinary demand for it. In order to escape we affected ignorance. We asserted in a paragraph on the following morning that we didn’t believe there was any such bundle of rhyme in existence. Alas, that bit of stimulated skepticism has cost us dearly! Early yesterday morning copies of ‘Beautiful Snow’ began arriving at the counting-room. A number of young ladies called and left their scrap-books. The first mail brought a basketful of letters, all enclosing copies of the old favorite. Some were discolored by age; others were worn and thumbed with usage; others were fresh copies in manuscript—all accompanied with a request to return if not used. ‘I am astonished,’ says one gentleman, ‘that you never came across this beautiful poem.’ ‘I did not think,’ says another, ‘that there was an editor living so stupid as to not know of “Beautiful Snow.” At first we thought it a good joke, and were highly delighted, but the ‘Beautiful Snow’ kept falling and the refrain of the letters began to be burdensome. When business men began to drop in last night, bringing copies of old magazines among whose dusky pages lurked the fugitive poem, and began to express their lack of confidence in a newspaper that had never heard of ‘Beautiful Snow,’ it became apparent that we had inflicted great injury upon the Enquirer. It was no use trying to make a jest of the thing, and so we apologized to all who called. The fall of ‘Beautiful Snow’ continued late into the evening. It filled our waste basket, drifted upon our table, insinuated itself into the grate, and piled up in our private drawer until we began to despair of ever being able to get out of the room. At 11 o’clock last night we had enough of it to blockade the Pacific railroad, and at 12 o’clock the office boy appeared with another armful of the generous contributions, and we incontinently kicked him down stairs.
“This was the condition of things at 1 o’clock this morning, and not more than half the wards in the city had been heard from. Then there’s the entire state to hear from yet, and we know what we will have to endure for the next forty-eight hours. We acknowledge that we have the worst of it, and are anxious to compromise. Sunday next we will publish ‘Beautiful Snow’ in all its pristine fullness. We are determined that this craving for ‘the poem so dear to the popular heart’ shall be stopped.”
Troy Daily Times. February 23, 1872: 1 col 2.

—The “beautiful snow” is around again everywhere, and so it the poem of that name.
“Freshest Gleanings.” Troy Daily Whig.. December 21, 1873: 2 col 4.

—Isn’t it about time for somebody to discover and publish “Beautiful Snow” with appropriate and original suggestions about its authorship?
“City Notes.” Troy Daily Times. November 18, 1873: 3 col 1.

A Southern editor announces his intention of securing a hall, if one of sufficient dimensions can be found, for the purpose of holding a convention of the authors of “Beautiful Snow.”
Lansingburgh Gazette. December 13, 1873: 2 col 3.

—O, the snow, the beautiful snow,
how quietly it falls, and how quickly it goes.
Melting and soiling and spoiling our clothes,
soaking our boots and freezing our toes,
making us work with shovels and hoes,
which in doing we freeze our fingers and nose,
with the wind which old Boreas furiously blows,
for what purpose old Nicholas himself only knows,
but the subject’s so harrowing we’ll draw to a close.
Just here the machine ran down, and, having mislaid the key, it was impossible to wind it up and renew the motion. Perhaps it is just as well.
“West Troy Notes.” Troy Daily Times. December 27, 1873: 3 col 2. (Text rearranged here to appear as poem rather than paragraph)

—We have tied a rope around their necks and are holding back fourteen versions of the “Beautiful Snow,” received during the last week.
“Village Notes.” Lansingburgh Courier. December 8, 1876: 3 col 1.

—Appropriate spring poetry:
“Oh, the slush, the slush, the filthy slush,
Black and grimy and thick as mush,
Splashed by wheels, it ruins our clothes;
Dashed by feet, it soils ladies’ hose,
It floods the gutters, it fills the street,
It sickens the soul, it chills the feet.
The slush is the result of beautiful snow—
How I wish it was in Jerico.”
“City Notes.” Troy Daily Times. March 29, 1877: 3 col 1.

—That Poem on the “beautiful snow” was handed in this morning, then handed over to the boy, and by the boy handed to the fireman, and by the fireman handed into the furnace, and by the furnace at once reduced to beautiful ashes. Next!
Troy Daily Times. January 5, 1878: 3 col 1.

—Skating on the ice was spoiled again on Wednesday by the “beautiful—funeral Tuesday.
“Village Notes.” Lansingburgh Courier. February 7, 1879: 3 col 1.

—Oh, the sneeze, the beautiful sneeze!
Forerunner of snuffle and herald of wheeze;
Companion of coughing (no pun is intended),
Beginning, proceeding, alas! never ended.
The beautiful sneeze is just now all the go,
Brought on by that other, “The Beautiful Snow.”
“City Notes.” Troy Daily Times. November 24, 1880: 3 col 1.

—”Oh, the snow, the beautiful snow,”
(But the rest of this beautiful poem you know.)
“‘Tis the stuff that the small boy rolls up in a sphere,
The unfortunate man who haps to be near,
That the small boy who holds it is going to throw
At his back, as he passes, the beautiful snow.
—Oil City Blizzard.
Troy Daily Times. December 29, 1881: 4 col 4.

The Snowy Flake Reviled

Stop! Stop! Stop!
Whatsoever direction you go;
And O for one lick at the man
Who calls this “the beautiful snow.”
Wade! Wade! Wade!
Wade on through the slush and the mud;
Wade on till you measure your length
Ker plash! with a sickening thud.
Slush! Slush! Slush!
‘Tis wrong to get angry, we know;
But O for just one lick at him
Who dares to say “beautiful snow.”
—Columbus Dispatch.
Lansingburgh Courier. January 22, 1887: 1 col 6.

S. S., Beautiful S.

Oh, the snow! the beautiful snow!
A slide, then a struggle, and down you go.
While your voice voluntarily and without stint
Gives vent to remarks that don’t look well in print;
Quotations from Scripture taken at chance,
When the snow gently slides up the l—mbs of your pants.
Oh, the snow! the beautiful snow!What a lot of bad language it causes to flow.
—New Haven News.
Lansingburgh Courier. January 22, 1887: 1 col 6. (In same column as “The Snowy Flake Reviled”)


The weird beauty, combined with its truthfulness to nature in her present mood, of the following poem must commend it to the favorable consideration of every Times reader. The name of the author will also be a surprise. Few had suspected that our agile Democratic executive possessed the divine afflatus:
Any person who maliciously attempts to cut, hack, disfigure, imitate, transform or infringe upon the beauteous beauty of these beautiful verses will be crunched in the iron jaws of the law.—The Author.
Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful snow:
Dotless, and spotless, and faultless, and—oh!
Whiter than roses of Boccacio,
Beautiful snow,
Please flow.
Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful snow:
Sifting, and sitting, and drifting, and—oh!
Blown by old Boreas thither and fro,
Beautiful snow,
That’s so.
Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful snow:
Why don’t you pack up your icebergs, and—oh!
Go to the—anywhere—say—Jericho.
Beautiful snow,
O go.
Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful snow:
Breeding distempers, and asthma, and—oh!
Hiding the grasses some six feet below,
Beautiful snow,
Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful snow:
Springlets and booklets are empty, and—oh!
Everything—everything bids you to go,
Beautiful snow,
Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful snow:
Beautiful snow,
Oh, snow,
Beautiful, dutiful, plentiful snow,
Troy Daily Times. March 23, 1887: 2 col 2.

Snow in Georgia:
Oh, the snow, the beautiful snow!
Now that you’ve blown into town, “Hello!”
But still you’re something quite out of our rhymes
In Georgia, even for Christmas times.
You’re “off your schedule” and “out of the way”—
We haven’t a bob-sled, cutter or sleigh,
To treat you befitting so rare a guest
Out of the blizzardy, bleak Nor’west.
So, beautiful snow, the sooner you’re off
And back to your home at the pole
The better we’ll feel who’re unable to cough
Up the prices they ask us for coal!
—Atlanta Constitution.
Troy Daily Times. January 7, 1893: col 4.

Coolness in the Future.

Oh, the snow, the beautiful snow;
In winter it comes, not in summer, you know;
And many regret that this should be so,
For it’s only in summer they long for the snow.

Oh, the snow, the beautiful snow!
It’s sure to be here in its season, you know,
And the winds from the cold north will whistle and blow,
And strong men can shovel the beautiful snow.
—Pittsburg Dispatch.
Lansingburgh Courier.
August 6, 1887: 1 col 6.

O, the snow! the beautiful snow
I step in the stuff wherever I go.
My heels are cold and my toes are wet,
And I don’t love the beautiful snow, you bet. —Town Topics.
Troy Daily Times. December 28, 1894: 2 col 4.

“Beautiful Snow.” Harper’s Weekly 2(100). November 27, 1858: 1. https://books.google.com/books?id=eoY-AQAAMAAJ&pg=PA753

“Beautiful Snow.” Fugitive Verses: Popular Reprinted Poetry from Nineteenth Century Newspapers. http://fugitiverses.viraltexts.org/texts/2016-01-27-beautiful-snow/