In the early part of the Civil War, one dark Saturday morning in the dead of winter, a young woman, twenty-two years old, died at the Commercial Hospital, Cincinnati. She had once been beautiful and the pride of respectable parents. Highly educated and accomplished, she might have shone in the best society. But she was stubborn and willful and would not listen to warning. She played with fire and called it "fun." One day she awoke to find herself ruined by a fatal mistake, which she could not erase. She was fallen.
She spent the rest of her young life in disgrace and shame, and died poor and friendless, a broken-hearted outcast. Among her personal effects was found, in manuscript, the poem, "Beautiful Snow," which was immediately carried to Enos B. Reed, editor of the National Union. In the columns of that paper, on the morning following the girl's death, the poem appeared in print for the first time. When the paper containing the poem came out on Sunday morning, the body of the victim had not yet received burial. The attention of Thomas Buchanan, one of the first American poets, was soon directed to the newly published lines, and was so taken with their stirring pathos, that he immediately followed the corpse to its final resting place.
Such are the plain facts concerning her whose "Beautiful Snow" will be long regarded as one of the brightest gems in American literature.
Oh! the snow, the beautiful snow,
Dancing, Flirting, Skimming along,
Beautiful snow from heaven above,
Whirling about in maddening fun,
And the dogs with a bark and a bound,
How wild the crowd goes swaying along,
Ringing, Swinging, Dashing they go,
To be trampled and tracked by thousands of feet,
Fell to be trampled as filth on the street,
Dealing in shame for a morsel of bread,
Once I was fair as the beautiful snow,
Father, Mother, Sisters, All,
For all that is on or above me, I know,
How strange it should be when the night comes again;
To be heard in the streets of the crazy town;
Helpless and foul as the trampled snow,
Groaning, Bleeding, Dying for thee,
O God! In the stream that for sinners did flow,
"Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: