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A Fall Bouquet of Poetry II

In celebration of the first day of Autumn.

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Autumn Morning at Cambridge

I ran out in the morning when the air was clean and new,
And all the grass was glittering, grey with autumn dew,
I ran out to the apple trees and pulled an apple down,
And all the bells were ringing in the old grey town.

Down in the town, off the bridges and the grass,
They are sweeping up the leaves to let the people pass,
Sweeping up the old leaves, golden-reds and browns,
While the men go to lecture with the wind in their gowns.

Frances Cornford (1886-1960)
The Oxford Book of Victorian Verse (1913) # 225
ed. Arthur Quiller-Couch

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Harvest Home

Come, let us mount the breezy down
And hearken to the tumult blown
Up from the champaign and the town.

The harvest days are come again,
The vales are surging with the grain;
The merry work goes on amain.

Pale streaks of cloud scarce veil the blue;
Against the golden harvest hue
The Autumn trees look fresh and new.

Wrinkled brows relax with glee,
And aged eyes they laugh to see
The sickles follow o'er the lea.

I see the little kerchief'd maid
With dimpling cheek and bodice staid,
'Mid the stout striplings half afraid;

I see the sire with bronzed chest:
Mad babes amid the blithe unrest
Seem leaping from the mother's breast.

The mighty youth and supple child,
Go forth, the yellow sheaves are piled;
The toil is mirth, the mirth is wild....

Lusty Pleasures, hobnail'd Fun
Throng into the noonday sun
And 'mid the merry reapers run.

Draw the clear October out!
Another, and another bout!
Then back to labour with a shout!

The banded sheaves stand orderly
Against the purple Autumn sky
Like armies of Prosperity.

Hark! thro' the middle of the town
From the sunny slopes run down
Bawling boys and reapers brown;

Laughter flies from door to door,
To see fat Plenty with his store
Led a captive by the poor....

Right thro' the middle of the town,
With a great sheaf for a crown,
Onward he reels, a happy clown.

Faintly cheers the tailor thin,
And the smith with sooty chin
Lends his hammer to the din;

And the master, blithe and boon,
Pours forth his boys that afternoon,
And locks his desk an hour too soon.

Yet, when the shadows eastward lean
O'er the smooth-shorn fallows clean,
And Silence sits where they have been,

Amid the gleaners I will stay,
While the shout and roundelay
Faint off, and daylight dies away.

—Dies away, and leaves me lone
With dim ghosts, of years agone,
Summers parted, glories flown;

Till Day beneath the West is roll'd,
Till grey spire and tufted wold
Purple in the evening gold.

Memories, when old age is come,
Are stray ears that deck the gloom,
And echoes of the Harvest-home.

Frederick Tennyson (1807-1898)
OBVV # 143 (ellipses in original)

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Willow

The feathers of the willow
Are half of them grown yellow
   Above the swelling stream;
And ragged are the bushes,
And rusty now the rushes,
   And wild the clouded gleam.

The thistle now is older,
His stalk begins to moulder,
   His head is white as snow;
The branches all are barer,
The linnet's song is rarer,
   The robin pipeth now.

Richard Watson Dixon (1833-1900)
The Oxford Book of English Verse (1939) # 801
ed. Arthur Quiller-Couch
OBVV # 376

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Fall of the Year

When Grasshopper, chirping late,
Easing thus his merry heart,
Not from cares but over-joy
Tells that Summer's out of date,
Yet thereat no fears annoy
His blithe spirit—not one smart
For lost moments, wishes ill—
As he sang so sings he still;
In his life-dregs keeping holy
That joy-essence fresh and clear,
Free from taint of melancholy,
Which from Nature, when the Year
Saw his birthday young like him,
He received, a boon of Glory
Man might envy, whom a whim—
A mere nothing—can o'er-dim....

When the Redbreast whistles blithe,
Taking of sweet song his fill,
Tho' the other birds be still;
And the lambs, full-sized bleat strong,
Well-wool'd 'gainst the Winter's chill;
When no more the reaping-scythe
Finds a cornstalk to cut down,
And the stubble field looks brown
Where the formless vapour shows
Objects indistinct and wrong;
When the daylight shorter grows,
And owl's and bat's delight is long;
When, nigh eveless, Night draws on,
Waiting scarce for set of sun;
Like enchantress whose high spell
Works a sudden miracle....

When the peasant, weather-wise,
Shakes his grey head at the skies;
By his blazing cottage-flame
Mutters Winter's chilly name,
Lives o'er the past, in many a tale,
And prophesies, and quaffs his ale:
While in chimney-nook to sleep
Tired dog and urchin creep:

When the weather-signs are rife,
Telling of new Season's life;
And all creatures, instinct-wise,
Tho' taught not to philosophise,
Now prepare, each in his way,
To protract life's little day;
And thy own heart plainer still
Than falling leaf or faded hill,
Tells thee that the Summer's flown
With all joys that thou hast known....

Then look thro' thy heart, and say
What the Summer in its day
Has ripen'd there of good and bright
That may glad thy after-sight.
Has it had its harvest-home?
Its Spring growth? its Summer bloom?
And, when bloom has pass'd away,
Has it had its seeding-day
Of well-ripen'd season'd thought
From Experience duly bought;
Of wise joys which in the mind
Seeds of better leave behind;

Joys by sorrow touch'd and tried,
And freed from earthly dross and pride;
Such as unreproved and free
Sweeten after-memory?
Has the Summer left for thee
In the soul's high-granary
Produce not of hasty growth
But of well-maturèd worth?
Fellow-creature Love and Peace,
With a mind and heart at ease,
And a love for everything
With which Man holds communing,
From the meanest worm that creeps
To the babe that cradled sleeps?
Has the Summer left thy heart
That which passes show, the art
Like wise Nature to prepare
From the Past a Future fair?
As the Earth within her breast,
When she seems at barren-rest,
Still prepares in her good time
Coming Springs, and from the slime
Of the brute soil moulds to life
Forms with grace and beauty rife;
So within thy inmost soul
Striving t'wards a higher goal,
From this life's impediments,
And the body's downward bents,
Frame thou the wings to upward aims
As from the gross wood rise pure flames.
In thy spirit's fertile womb
Mould thou shapes not for the tomb:
There let Faith beget on Love
The angel thou shalt be Above!

Henry Ellison (1811-1880)
OBVV # 192 (ellipses in original)

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The Woods are Still

The woods are still that were so gay at primrose-springing,
Through the dry woods the brown field-fares are winging,
And I alone of love, of love am singing.

I sing of love to the haggard palmer-worm,
Of love 'mid the crumpled oak-leaves that once were firm,
Laughing, I sing of love at the summer's term.

Of love, on a path where the snake's cast skin is lying,
Blue feathers on the floor, and no cuckoo flying;
I sing to the echo of my own voice crying.

"Michael Field"
Katharine Bradley (1846-1913) & Edith Cooper (1862-1914)
OBVV # 766

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Ode to the West Wind

I

O wild West Wind, thou breath of Autumn's being,
   Thou, from whose unseen presence the leaves dead
Are driven, like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing,

   Yellow, and black, and pale, and hectic red,
Pestilence-stricken multitudes: O thou,
   Who chariotest to their dark wintry bed

The winged seeds, where they lie cold and low,
   Each like a corpse within its grave, until
Thine azure sister of the Spring shall blow

   Her clarion o'er the dreaming earth, and fill
(Driving sweet buds like flocks to feed in air)
   With living hues and odours plain and hill:

Wild Spirit, which art moving everywhere;
Destroyer and preserver; hear, oh hear!

II

Thou on whose stream, mid the steep sky's commotion,
   Loose clouds like earth's decaying leaves are shed,
Shook from the tangled boughs of Heaven and Ocean,

   Angels of rain and lightning: there are spread
On the blue surface of thine aëry surge,
   Like the bright hair uplifted from the head

Of some fierce Maenad, even from the dim verge
   Of the horizon to the zenith's height,
The locks of the approaching storm. Thou dirge

   Of the dying year, to which this closing night
Will be the dome of a vast sepulchre,
   Vaulted with all thy congregated might

Of vapours, from whose solid atmosphere
Black rain, and fire, and hail, will burst: oh hear!

III

Thou who didst waken from his summer dreams
   The blue Mediterranean, where he lay,
Lull'd by the coil of his crystàlline streams,

   Beside a pumice isle in Baiae's bay,
And saw in sleep old palaces and towers
   Quivering within the wave's intenser day,

All overgrown with azure moss and flowers
   So sweet, the sense faints picturing them! Thou
For whose path the Atlantic's level powers

   Cleave themselves into chasms, while far below
The sea-blooms and the oozy woods which wear
   The sapless foliage of the ocean, know

Thy voice, and suddenly grow gray with fear,
And tremble and despoil themselves: oh hear!

IV

If I were a dead leaf thou mightest bear;
   If I were a swift cloud to fly with thee;
A wave to pant beneath thy power, and share

   The impulse of thy strength, only less free
Than thou, O uncontrollable! If even
   I were as in my boyhood, and could be

The comrade of thy wanderings over Heaven,
   As then, when to outstrip thy skiey speed
Scarce seem'd a vision; I would ne'er have striven

   As thus with thee in prayer in my sore need.
Oh, lift me as a wave, a leaf, a cloud!
   I fall upon the thorns of life! I bleed!

A heavy weight of hours has chain'd and bow'd
One too like thee: tameless, and swift, and proud.

V

Make me thy lyre, even as the forest is:
   What if my leaves are falling like its own!
The tumult of thy mighty harmonies

   Will take from both a deep, autumnal tone,
Sweet though in sadness. Be thou, Spirit fierce,
   My spirit! Be thou me, impetuous one!

Drive my dead thoughts over the universe
   Like wither'd leaves to quicken a new birth!
And, by the incantation of this verse,

   Scatter, as from an unextinguish'd hearth
Ashes and sparks, my words among mankind!
   Be through my lips to unawaken'd earth

The trumpet of a prophecy! O Wind,
If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?

Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)
OBEV # 617

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Cadgwith

My windows open to the autumn night,
In vain I watch'd for sleep to visit me;
How should sleep dull mine ears, and dim my sight,
Who saw the stars, and listen'd to the sea?

Ah, how the City of our God is fair!
If, without sea, and starless though it be,
For joy of the majestic beauty there,
Men shall not miss the stars, nor mourn the sea.

Lionel Johnson (1867-1902)
OBVV # 691

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On a Thrush Singing in Autumn

Sweet singer of the Spring, when the new world
Was fill'd with song and bloom, and the fresh year
Tripp'd, like a lamb playful and void of fear,
Through daisied grass and young leaves scarce unfurl'd,
Where is thy liquid voice
That all day would rejoice?
Where now thy sweet and homely call,
Which from gray dawn to evening's chilling fall
Would echo from thin copse and tassell'd brake,
For homely duty tuned and love's sweet sake?

The spring-tide pass'd, high summer soon should come.
The woods grew thick, the meads a deeper hue;
The pipy summer growths swell'd, lush and tall;
The sharp scythes swept at daybreak through the dew.
Thou didst not heed at all,
Thy prodigal voice grew dumb;
No more with song mightst thou beguile,
—She sitting on her speckled eggs the while—
Thy mate's long vigil as the slow days went,
Solacing her with lays of measureless content.

Nay, nay, thy voice was Duty's, nor would dare
Sing were Love fled, though still the world were fair;
The summer wax'd and waned, the nights grew cold,
The sheep were thick within the wattled fold,
The woods began to moan,
Dumb wert thou and alone;
Yet now, when leaves are sere, thy ancient note
Comes low and halting from thy doubtful throat.
Oh, lonely loveless voice, what dost thou here
In the deep silence of the fading year?

Thus do I read answer of thy song:
"I sang when winds blew chilly all day long;
I sang because hope came and joy was near,
I sang a little while, I made good cheer;
In summer's cloudless day
My music died away;
But now the hope and glory of the year
Are dead and gone, a little while I sing
Songs of regret for days no longer here,
And touch'd with presage of the far-off Spring."

Is this the meaning of thy note, fair bird?
Or do we read into thy simple brain
Echoes of thoughts which human hearts have stirred,
High-soaring joy and melancholy pain?
Nay, nay, that lingering note
Belated from thy throat—
"Regret," is what it sings, "regret, regret!
The dear days pass, but are not wholly gone.
In praise of those I let my song go on;
'Tis sweeter to remember than forget."

Sir Lewis Morris (1833-1907)
OBVV # 380

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The Trosachs

There's not a nook within this solemn Pass
   But were an apt confessional for one
   Taught by his summer spent, his autumn gone,
That Life is but a tale of morning grass
Wither'd at eve. From scenes of art which chase
   That thought away, turn, and with watchful eyes
   Feed it 'mid Nature's old felicities,
Rocks, river, and smooth lakes more clear than glass
Untouch'd, unbreathed upon. Thrice happy quest,
   If from a gold perch of aspen spray
   (October's workmanship to rival May)
The pensive warbler of the ruddy breast
   That moral sweeten by heaven-taught lay,
Lulling the year, with all its cares, to rest!

William Wordsworth (1770-1850)
OBEV # 554

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November

Red o'er the forest peers the setting sun;
   The line of yellow light dies fast away
That crown'd the eastern copse; and chill and dun
   Falls on the moor the brief November day.

Now the tired hunter winds a parting note,
   And Echo bids good-night from every glade;
Yet wait awhile and see the calm leaves float
   Each to his rest beneath their parent shade.

How like decaying life they seem to glide
   And yet no second spring have they in store;
And where they fall, forgotten to abide
   Is all their portion, and they ask no more.

Soon o'er their heads blithe April airs shall sing,
   A thousand wild-flowers round them shall unfold,
The green buds glisten in the dews of Spring,
   And all be vernal rapture as of old.

Unconscious they in waste oblivion lie,
   In all the world of busy life around
No thought of them—in all the bounteous sky
   No drop, for them, of kindly influence found.

Man's portion is to die and rise again:
   Yet he complains, while these unmurmuring part
With their sweet lives, as pure from sin and stain
   As his when Eden held his virgin heart.

John Keble (1792-1866)
OBVV # 31 OBEV # 626

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See also A Fall Bouquet of Poetry and A Spring Bouquet of Poetry II.

Lane Core Jr. CIW P — Thu. 09/22/05 07:46:48 AM
Categorized as Literary & Most Notable.

   
         
         

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Cor ad cor loquitur J. H. Newman — “Heart speaks to heart”