Unhappy the man who is in love except in the summer, fruitless his prayers and great his desires. After the one night I had with the girl, all that is left me of that love-affair is my recollection of it, and the winter, I swear, is angry, black and bare after Christmas: and the snow, sure sign of the cold, and the frost and numerous icicles.
Coming drunk from the tavern, disgruntled and in a wretched humour, I went to look for her, terrified lest I find her making love to some other handsome man. Through the wood in the valley I went, feeling no love at all, till I arrived at the stone wall inside which the beauty lives.
There was a dismal sound of dripping from the eaves like an overflowing cheesepot; but when I arrived there I felt a kind of relief because of the danger close at band beyond the wall. Thick under the edge of the cold roof were the frosty icicles, freezing cold, and cleverly the drops contrived to fall into my mouth as I stood at the mercy of the frost and the whistling rime of the ice. The frost bit me like a rake, and the cold went through me like the tender teeth of a harrow. As I stood in the porch the drops fell angrily on me from Jealousy's fine candles of ice, like freezing tears, and the snow drove every recollection out of me but that of black frost.
While my head endured the pangs of the drips from these cold spindles and the dismal sounds, I knocked on the window with my band, hearing within the sounds of those in their first sleep, the man louder than the woman. Suspicious he nudged the pretty creature with his cold elbow, easily persuaded that someone was looking diligently for his money. Then the withered oaf rose out of his bed like a draught of foul air, enraged and terrified and calling "Villain" after me. And this was a dangerous journey for me, for he set a scoundrelly pack on me consisting of the whole town; and he, promising a candle to Mary at every sight of my footprints, bellowed after me with a hundred voices, "After him there! he's barefoot!"
So I fled with painful haste along the black back of the frost, till I came to the pleasant birch-wood which used to hide me in summer, thinking it to be, as I remembered it, a house of leaves under a fine roof, where the birds loved me and I saw the girl in May. But this was no trysting-place now, but a place of grief, even in the grove of the wood. No sign of love nor anything else did I see, nor any person nor any leaf, for the barren winter had winnowed the green warp of the leaves to the ground. And so I am begging May for a thaw before I freeze to death: I am a man imprisoned in winter; good luck to the summer and may it not be long coming!