Poems of Nature

Page 9 of 13

'Time wears her not; she doth his chariot guide;
Mortality below her orb is placed.'—Raleigh.
The full-orbed moon with unchanged ray
Mounts up the eastern sky,
Not doomed to these short nights for aye,
But shining steadily.
She does not wane, but my fortne,
Which her rays do not bless;
My wayward path declineth soon,
But she shines not the less.
And if she faintly glimmers here
And pald is her light,
Yet always in her proper sphere
She's mistress of the night.


Upon the lofty elm-tree sprays
The vireo rings the changes sweet,
During the trivial summer days,
Striving to lift our thoughts above the street.


In vain I see the morning rise,
In vain observe the western blaze,
Who idly look to other skies,
Expecting life by other ways.
Amidst such boundless wealth without,
I only still am poor within,
The birds have sung their summer out,
But still my spring does not begin.
Shall I then wait the autumn wind,
Compelled to seek a milder day,
And leave no curious nest behind,
No woods still echoing to my lay?


All things are current found
On earthly ground,
Spirits and elements
Have their descents.
Night and day, year on year,
High and low, far and near,
These are our own aspects,
These are our own regrets.
Ye gods of the shore,
Who abide evermore,
I see your far headland,
Stretching on either hand;{75}
I hear the sweet evening sounds
From your undecaying grounds;
Cheat me no more with time,
Take me to your clime.


I am the autumnal sun,
With autumn gales my race is run;
When will the hazel put forth its flowers,
Or the grape ripen under my bowers?
When will the harvest or the hunter's moon,
Turn my midnight into mid-noon?
I am all sere and yellow,
And to my core mellow.
The mast is dropping within my woods,
The winter is lurking within my moods,
And the rustling of the withered leaf
Is the constant music of my grief.


Thank God who seasons thus the year,
And sometimes kindly slants his rays;
For in his winter he's most near
And plainest seen upon the shortest days.
Who gently tempers now his heats,
And then his harsher cold, lest we
Should surfeit on the summer's sweets,
Or pine upon the winter's crudity.{78}
A sober mind will walk alone,
Apart from nature, if need be,
And only its own seasons own;
For nature leaving its humanity.
Sometimes a late autumnal thought
Has crossed my mind in green July,
And to its early freshness brought
Late ripened fruits, and an autumnal sky.
. . . . . .
The evening of the year draws on,
The fields a later aspect wear;
Since Summer's garishness is gone,
Some grains of night tincture the noontide air.
Behold! the shadows of the trees
Now circle wider 'bout their stem,{79}
Like sentries that by slow degrees
Perform their rounds, gently protecting them.
And as the year doth decline,
The sun allows a scantier light;
Behind each needle of the pine
There lurks a small auxiliar to the night.
I hear the cricket's slumbrous lay
Around, beneath me, and on high;
It rocks the night, it soothes the day,
And everywhere is Nature's lullaby.
But most he chirps beneath the sod,
When he has made his winter bed;
His creak grown fainter but more broad,
A film of autumn o'er the summer spread.{80}
Small birds, in fleets migrating by,
Now beat across some meadow's bay,
And as they tack and veer on high,
With faint and hurried click beguile the way.
Far in the woods, these golden days,
Some leaf obeys its Maker's call;
And through their hollow aisles it plays
With delicate touch the prelude of the Fall.
Gently withdrawing from its stem,
It lightly lays itself along
Where the same hand hath pillowed them,
Resigned to sleep upon the old year's throng.
The loneliest birch is brown and sere,
The furthest pool is strewn with leaves,{81}
Which float upon their watery bier,
Where is no eye that sees, no heart that grieves.
The jay screams through the chestnut wood;
The crisped and yellow leaves around
Are hue and texture of my mood—
And these rough burrs my heirlooms on the ground.
The threadbare trees, so poor and thin—
They are no wealthier than I;
But with as brave a core within
They rear their boughs to the October sky.
Poor knights they are which bravely wait
The charge of Winter's cavalry,
Keeping a simple Roman state,
Discumbered of their Persian luxury.


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