Winter Fire Flies by W. N. Clarke

One by one appearing
In their lower sky,
Come a host uncounted
Like the stars on high,
Flashing lights uncertain,
Ever changing place,—
Tricksy constellations
That we cannot trace!

Throbbing through the elm-tree
Little heart of fire!—
One in lonely longing
Rises ever higher;
Flits across the darkness,
Like a shooting star,
While the changeless heavens
Calmly shine afar.

When the flames are lighting
All the chimney dark,
When the green wood hisses,
And the birchen bark
In the blaze doth redden,
Glow and snap and curl,
Fire-flies, freed from prison,
Merrily dance and whirl.

Children on the hearth-stone,
Peering up the flue,
See a mimic welkin,
Lights that twinkle through,
Sparks that flash and flicker,
Little short-lived stars,
On the sooty darkness
Glowing red as Mars!

Eager eyes a-watching
Fain would have them pause.
Catch these fire-flies—can you?—
In a web of gauze!
Ever upward flying
Toward the chimney’s crown—
Up to meet the snow-flakes
As they flutter down!