Autumnal Time! why doth the poet's song
Fore'er invest thy gay and golden months
With melancholy garb!--Too oft thy woods
In all their panoply of green and gold;
The splendid reach of many-colored hills
Are to his eye but symbols of decay,
The fading types of fading human life.
O! rather like a king of Orient clime,
Clad in his regal dress of various hue
Art thou, imperial Autumn!--Of the year
Thou ever wast the true and rightful king.
And now the yellow Sun is dropping down
To slumber in his golden palaces,
Far in the crimson West: and let us mark
From this high place the blessed king of Day
Put off his robes of splendor, while the Night
Comes forth in all her shadowy garments clad.
Gaze on the glimmering scene!--a hundred hills
Are gathered round in many a gloomy group
O'erlooking with their great eternal brows,
A hundred hollow vallies, rich with herds,
Or clothed with the Autumnal wealth of grain.
Proudly they lift their bare and gloomy peaks,
Their grey and tempest-beaten summits up
High in the twilight shadows--hurling back
The subtle light from all their splintered cliffs.
Methinks they stand like armed champions
Clad in the iron panoply of war,
And eager for the desolating rush
Of the mad battle!
--A sepulchral gloom
Dwells in these mossy woods! there's scarce a beam
Of the far-travelled sunlight, that may pierce
This deep and massy canopy of leaves;
Or brighten the green floor that slopes beneath.
And how profound the hush! save when a gust
Of the sweet South whispers its mournful sigh
Far in their dim arcades. Oft-times that sad
And desolate sobbing of the uneasy wind
In these old woods and awful solitudes,
Falls on the ear like some strange melody
Of the departed Tribes who long ago
Made here their dwelling in the savage wild.
And now, that the uncertain shades have dimmed
The Day's decaying embers, and the spires
Of the remotest villages are hid;
And the tree-shadows lengthen o'er the stream,
Fancy doth people these old woods with Shades
Of the long forgotten Dead!
--On this green knoll
That heaves up like a billow of the sea,
Methinks I see, apparelled as for war
The princely and the battle-bruised form,
Of the long vanquished Savage. There is fire
Hid in his steadfast eye, and valor stamped
On each fierce lineament. He hath placed
His feathered Crown of battle on his hand,
And the broad quiver rattles at his back.
And sometimes there's the sorrowful look of one
Whose thoughts are mingling with the awful Past.
Now as the day declines, I hear the chime
Of far-off village bells, and the low hymn
Sung by the merry harvesters: and thus
The cheerful song floats on the twilight air.
'Sing! for plentiful fruits have crowned
The sultry labors of the year;
Seed-time and Harvest have both passed round,
And scattered abundance here.
The Corn hath well thriven beneath the Sun,
Then Sing! for the toils of the year are done.
'Sing! for the hand of Him, who pours
His rain on the parched-up Earth,
Who ordereth the Seasons in their Course
Hath bounteously sent them forth.
His rain has ripened the yellow grain,
And his dews have nurtured the thirsty plain.
'Then let the mower put his scythe,
And the reaper, his reaping-hook;
And the thresher his flail, for bright and blithe
And happy should be each look.
Let us sing the good song of the grateful heart
And the gloom of Sorrow shall soon depart.'
Into the Air hath melted the strange Hymn
With a faint cadence. And as Evening steps
With sober pace along the misty hills,
Leaning upon her lonely sister's breast,
The melancholy Silence! there doth fall
A universal slumber on the earth.