Although the song on the surface seems to be addressed to the woman, it comes across as the narrator’s own thoughts – what he would say to her if she were present. That she is not present is suggested by the changes of time. It begins at night, moves to the daytime in the second verse, and back to night in the third. There is also a plea to ‘come out’ in the second and third verses, suggesting she is at home elsewhere. The sandwiching of a day verse between two night verses would seem to represent stages of the relationship. It’s cold, there’s a temporary thaw, and then it’s back to being cold.
In giving his thoughts, the narrator unintentionally presents the negative side of own character. First, he seems guilty of wishful thinking. The expressions ‘my little apple’ and ‘my little daisy’ give away his desire to possess the woman in language appropriate to the desire having already been fulfilled. That this is not the case is apparent from the plea, ‘please be mine’. Not only is the woman not his, but there seems to be doubt in his mind that she ever will be. The reference to ‘quarrelin” and the injunction ‘don’t be rude’ suggest that the relationship is far from being what the narrator is convincing himself it is. The assurance he tries to impart to the woman might, then, be seen as a futile attempt at self- reassurance. One might wonder how he can be so sure that ‘Ev’rything is gonna be alright’ and ‘Ev’rything will be tight’.
Not only is he guilty of wishful thinking, but he comes across as selfish. First, the injunction ‘be mine’, indicates a possessive attitude. In addition he is egotistical, constantly concerned with himself: ‘I see by the angel…’, ‘You’re the one I adore…’, ‘… give me more’, ‘this dude thinks…’. He also tries to impose his own wants by ordering her about, the word ‘come’ being constantly used: ‘…come over here and give me more’, ‘come out when the skating rink glistens’, ‘Come on, sit by the logs…’, ‘come out tonight’. In addition, the suggestions about what they might do are all his without any apparent concern for what she might like: ‘…let’s go down to the chapel/Then come back and cook up a meal’. And by his own admission he’s lazy. Furthermore he tries to pass the buck by saying ‘it‘s making me lazy’, when it’s not clear there’s anything for ‘it’ to refer back to.
The repeated use of ‘come’ may also suggest that the narrator’s selfishness extends to seeing the relationship as essentially about fulfilling his sexual desires. The injunction to ‘…come over here and give me more’ is blatantly so, but ‘The snow is so cold, but our love can be bold’ may also suggest this if he’s suggesting having sex despite the snow. The next line begins ‘Winterlude, don’t be rude’, but the ‘don’t be rude’ seems out of context unless it is in fact a turning back on her what she says in response to his suggestion about being bold.
There are reasons to doubt the narrator’s sincerity. The phrase ‘come over here and give me more’ is preceded by ‘love has a reason to shine’. This suggests that he sees sex as due payment for his love for her; he’ll love her only if she gives him a reason to. It is also somewhat ungrammatically followed by ‘Then Winterlude, this dude thinks you’re fine’. The implication is that he’ll think she’s fine after she satisfies him sexually, but not otherwise.
The narrator’s lack of genuine love for the woman is apparent in the focus he puts on romantic settings with references to ‘the corn in the field’, going ‘down to the chapel’, ‘the skating rink glistens’, ‘the logs in the fire’, ‘snowflakes’ and ‘the moonlight’. But the expression is sometimes somewhat strained as if he’s trying to make the scene as romantic as possible – more than the context requires. This is particularly so with ‘sit by the logs in the fire’ where the more natural expression would be ‘sit by the fire’; the reference to logs shows the narrator’s excessive concern with having a romantic atmosphere.
The title ‘Winterlude’ suggests that the song is about a (real or imagined) interval in an otherwise icy relationship. That the interval will be short lived is apparent from the narrator’s character and approach to the woman, but also in imagery suggesting impermanence. The moon traditionally represents inconstancy and in ‘… the snowflakes, they cover the sand’, the sand might represent the impermanence of the relationship, and also that the relationship lacks a secure foundation. This lack of stability is only temporarily disguised by the beauty of the snowflakes – the welcomed interval. Whereas previously the narrator had dismissed the snow as ‘so cold’, by his reference to snowflakes he now unconsciously admits it has an attractiveness which belies its coldness. ‘Cold’ perhaps better describes his own emotional detachment.
Religious imagery abounds. The woman is referred to as an ‘angel’, but as the narrator’s ‘little apple’ she represents (in his eyes) temptation which he gives in to. He wants do go down to the chapel, presumably to expunge guilt for giving in to temptation- but includes her as if she has to be as guilty as he is. This partially mirrors Eve’s attempt to include Adam in her guilt. Crossroads are traditionally associated with the devil. If the woman is an angel, he is by implication the devil. She represents the positive in the relationship, the thawing of the iciness – and this is represented in the name ‘Winterlude’. And he is the cause of the relationship not working.