Autumn Days: (To M. F. F.)

RED springs the rye
As autumn days decline,
And from the brilliant sky
Less florid splendors shine.
Its airy lustrous line
The gossamer displays,
And faintly breathes the pine
In autumn days.
And solemn is the hush
That on the heart doth fall;
And of all birds the thrush
Alone is musical.
The sparrow on the wall
Shivers in pallid rays,
And the frog has ceased its call
In autumn days.
But oh! the life, the life
That summer poured around!
The merry, ringing strife
And jocundly of sound
In wood and sky and ground
What a chorus! what a maze
Of beauty there was found
In summer days!
’Tis gone! you hear no more
The bee hum in the flower;
Nor see the swallow soar
Around the hoary tower;
Nor the shrieking swifts devour
The distance in their plays.
’Tis now the voiceless hour
Of autumn days.
Brown little owl that hauntest
That aged, giant tree,
And thy small wisdom vauntest
In one-note minstrelsy,
What is become of thee
And thy summer night displays?
Dost thou too southward flee
In autumn days?
The hoopoo’s hollow shout
And blaze of coloring
Went with the cuckoo out—
Mere memories of spring.
Even the quail has found her wing,
Nor for the reaper stays;
She dreads the sickle’s ring
In autumn days.
And all the friendly faces
A-coming and a-going,
The young ones in their graces,
The old ones grave and knowing,
Who made these haunts o’erflowing
With mirth’s electric blaze,
Such bliss are not bestowing
In autumn days.
The mothers, girls, and wives,
Like the honey-laden bee,
Are away into their hives
With the men-folk o’er the sea;
And ’t is surely time that we
Should gather up our strays,
Nor here sit lonesomely
In autumn days.
So, soon the daily walk
Through heather and through woods,
And the evening muss1 and talk
When the lamp’s radiance floods
The hall, and fog-winds scud
Without o’er naked sprays,
Will be a dream that broods
O’er autumn days!
Lo! her banner of all dyes
Nature, in gorgeous show,
Hangs on the forest rise
Where the cherry’s crimson glow
Gleams to the vale below,
And shouts through all our ways,
’T is time for you to go
From autumn days.
’T is time, ere burst at length
The mountain rains and hails,
And the torrents in their strength
Rush roaring through the vales;
Their shock the bridge assails
And our flight in midway stays;
Friend pent-up friend bewails
In autumn days.
Anon, and this will be
A dream, like all the rest
Of the life that fondly we,
Here pilgriming, possessed.
But the lasting and the blessed
We must gather yet, in ways
That know no passing guest
Nor autumn days.

TYROL, October 10, 1875.

William Howitt.
  1. A favorite Tyrolean dish.