I clutched the quaking grass,
And beat the rough bark of the willow-tree;
I shook the wreathed boughs,
To make the spirit flee.
It haunted me till dawn,
By the full fountain and the willow-tree;
For with myself I walked—
How could the spirit flee?
No melancholy days are these!
Not where the maple changing stands,
Not in the shade of fluttering oaks,
Nor in the bands
Of twisting vines and sturdy shrubs,
Scarlet and yellow, green and brown,
Falling, or swinging on their stalks,
Is Sorrow’s crown.
The sparkling fields of dewy grass,
Woodpaths and roadsides decked with flowers,
Starred asters and the goldenrod,
Date Autumn’s hours.
The shining banks of snowy clouds,
Steadfast in the aerial blue,
The silent, shimmering, silver sea,
To Joy are true.
My spirit in this happy air
Can thus embrace the dying year,
And with it wrap me in a shroud
As bright and clear!
THE AUTUMN SHEAF.
Still I remember only autumn days,
When golden leaves were floating in the air,
And reddening oaks stood sombre in the haze,
Till sunset struck them with its redder glare,
And faded, leaving me by wood and field
In fragrant dew, and fragrant velvet mould,
To wait among the shades of night concealed,
And learn that story which but once is told.
Though many seasons of the falling leaves
I watched my failing hopes, and watched their fall;
In memory they are gathered now like sheaves,
So withered that a touch would scatter all.
Dead leaves, and dust more dead, to fall
Leaves spreading once in arches over me,
And dust enclosing once a loving heart,
Still I am happy with youth’s mystery.
It cannot be unbound,—my autumn
So let it stand, the ruin of my past;
Returning autumn brings the old belief,
Its mystery all its own, and it will last.
The autumn morning sweetly calls to me,
And autumn days and nights in patience wait;
I answer not, because I am not free,
Although I chose my fate.
The cold, gray mist that stains the city
Stands silver-columned where the river glides,
Or, slow dividing, on the valley falls,
Where one I love abides.
The wind that trifles round my city door,
Or whirls before me all the city’s dust,
By the sea borrows its triumphant roar,
And lends its savage gust;
Or shrieking rushes where the sombre pines
Hold solemn converse in the ancient vale,
And while ’t is dying in their dark confines
Babbles their mystic tale.