By Charles Sangster



     Oh! the bright days of Autumn! how they sink
Like dreams of beauty fanned by heaven’s airs,
Deep, deep into the mind.  There is a soft
And holy feeling floating through the skies,
The breathings of an Angel-troupe that comes


With noiseless footsteps and on wings of love,
To fill the soul with joy.  The bay is calm,
And mellowed with the sunbeams of the morn:
God smiling on the mirror of the skies, [Page 125]
Where the light clouds, the stars, and the mad moon


Gaze at their own strange beauty, and the sun
Flings down his amorous breathings, passionate
As a wild lover with a great fond soul,
Drinking his mistress’ smiles ’neath distant skies,
While she, at home, sits thinking of his love—


Absent, but ever present.  Here an isle,
With one tall tree to sentinel the place,
Floats languidly upon the sleeping wave,
Tinting the water with innumerous hues,
Each little fretful wave kissing its feet,


And toying with the shrubs that drop their leaves
Like playthings on its pearly lips.  The marsh,
Like to an insolent sluggard, has lain down
Beneath its faded covering, to dream
Of a long rest: its putrid breath no more


Poisons the air with a malarian stench,
Inducing fevers that burn up the frame,
As the hot summer burns the parchéd leaf—
The purifying air of Autumn has passed o’er
The feverish waste, and given it new health,


E’en in its swift decay; as the free’d soul
Ascends to heaven when the body dies.
The stately bulrush rears its dark brown head
Above the sedgy waste; the water-hen,
Surrounded by her noisy brood, doles forth


Her inharmonious notes; the piping snipe,
The golden plover, and the slender crane,
With here and there a pair of watchful teal, [Page 126]
Seek nourishment from the decaying sedge;
As the rank soil the putrid mass receives


That gives a quickened impulse to its veins.

     The wind blows fresh upon the distant lake,
But here the breezes whisper; through the air
Ambrosial mists are breathed.  Nature’s great heart
Beats feebly in her old maternal breast,


And balmy sighs, and moanings, keen but weak,
Are heard far-wandering through the aged woods.
Sadly she grieves for the departed flowers;
Sadly she sings the requiem of the leaves,
As they come fluttering down, like withered hopes


Leaving poor ship-wrecked youth all cold and bare,
Exposed to the sharp breath of a hard world,
Shuddering, and sick of heart.  The red, round sun,
Shorn of his flaming locks, stands in the east,
Like a proud steed divested of its strength,


Stands like a king who has put off his crown,
And lain aside the duties of the state
For a brief season; and the passing clouds
Sport with his rubicund face, and fling a veil
Of melancholy beauty o’er his brow.


Yon group of trees upon the faded bank,
Spreading their broad deep shadows on the wave,
Gaze in the water at their roots, and watch
The gradual fading of their summer-green,
As Autumn, the rich fancy dyer, comes,


Puts on his motley, Joseph-coat of leaves, [Page 127]
And steeps them all in hues of gold and brown,
And glowing scarlet, yellow, green, and dun—
Bright favorite of the undulating shore.
The village church peers o’er the groves of pines


And stunted hickory, on the barren hill;
In the stripped orchard the old Homestead stands,
Above the hazy bank, like a white tent
Seen through the picturesque openings of the trees,
And in the garden a serene old man,


With silvered locks, but mind yet unimpaired,
Strolls to inhale the renovating air,
That gives a healthy vigor to the morn.
A rural cottage in the distance shrinks,
Like a coy blossom, nursed among the grass,


Blushing and trembling at the intrusive steps
Of the young zephyrs; and two golden fields
Slope to the limestone shore, denuded of
Their wavy tresses, by the reapers shorn.—
The pines are green as in their summer days,


Although the oaks are yellow in the vale—
Their strength avails not, Autumn strips them bare.
As a nation strips a Ruler of his badge,
Which he has worn with honor, to make way
For others who are covetous of place;


But the green pine lives on the highest hills,
And wears a youthful freshness all the year,
As the pure soul whose thoughts are ever green
Lives nearest God.  Go, man! into the woods,
And watch the multitudinous mass of leaves [Page 128]


Passing from life to death.  These are the fruits
That nature gathers for her sustenance,
As they fall ripe and mellow at her feet,
Fit to be garnered in.  Behold them sink
Resistless to the ground, and as thy foot


Crushes their withered stems, think of their fall
As emblematic of thy Autumn days,
And of succeeding years, when other feet
Will tread as recklessly upon thy grave,
As thine upon the melancholy leaves. [Page 129]