Nightfall: A Picture

Low burns the summer afternoon;
A mellow lustre lights the scene;
And from its smiling beauty soon
The purpling shade will chase the sheen.
The old, quaint homestead’s windows blaze;
The cedars long, black pictures show;
And broadly slopes one path of rays
Within the barn, and makes it glow.
The loft stares out — the cat intent,
Like carving, on some gnawing rat —
With sun-bathed hay and rafters bent,
Nooked, eobwebbed homes of wasp and bat.
The harness, bridle, saddle dart
Gleams from the lower, rough expanse;
At either side the stooping cart,
Pitchfork, and plow cast looks askance.
White Dobbin through the stable-doors
Shows his round shape; faint color coats
The manger, where the farmer pours,
With rustling rush, the glancing oats.
A sun-haze streaks the dusky shed;
Makes spears of seams and gems of chinks:
In mottled gloss the straw is spread;
And the gray grindstone dully blinks.
The sun salutes the lowest west
With gorgeous tints around it drawn;
A beacon on the mountain’s breast,
A crescent, shred, a star — and gone.
The landscape now prepares for night:
A gauzy mist slow settles round;
Eve shows her hues in every sight,
And blends her voice with every sound.
The sheep stream rippling down the dell,
Their smooth, sharp faces pointed straight;
The pacing kine, with tinkling bell,
Come grazing through the pasture-gate.
The ducks are grouped, and talk in fits:
One yawns with stretch of leg and win"-;
One rears and fans, then, settling, sits;
One at a moth makes awkward spring.
The geese march grave in Indian file,
The ragged patriarch at the head;
Then, screaming, flutter off awhile,
Fold up, and once more stately tread.
Brave chanticleer shows haughtiest air;
Hurls his shrill vaunt with lofty bend;
Lifts foot, glares round, then follows where
His scratching, picking partlets wend.
Staid Towser scents the glittering ground;
Then, yawning, draws a crescent deep,
Wheels his head-drooping frame around
And sinks with fore-paws stretched for sleep.
The oxen, loosened from the plow,
Rest by the pear-tree’s crooked trunk;
Tim, standing with yoke-burdened brow,
Trim, in a mound beside him sunk.
One of the kine upon the bank
Heaves her face-lifting, wheezy roar;
One smooths, with lapping tongue, her flank;
With ponderous droop one finds the floor.
Freed Dobbin through the soft, clear dark
Glimmers across the pillared scene,
With the grouped geese — a pallid mark —
And scattered bushes black between.
The fire-flies freckle every spot
With fickle light that gleams and dies;
The bat, a wavering, soundless blot,
The cat, a pair of prowling eyes.
Still the sweet, fragrant dark o’erflows
The deepening air and darkening ground ;
By its rich scent I trace the rose,
The viewless beetle by its sound.
The cricket scrapes its rib-like bars;
The tree-toad purrs in whirring tone;
And now the heavens are set with stars,
And night and quiet reign alone.
Alfred B. Street.