If seasons, like the human race, had souls,
Then two artistic spirits live within
The Chameleon mind of Autumn - these,
The Poet's mentor and the Painter's guide.
The myriad-thoughted phases of the mind
Are truly represented by the hues
That thrill the forests with prophetic fire.
And what could painter's skill compared to these?
What palette ever held the flaming tints
That on these leafy hieroglyphs foretell
How set the ebbing currents of the year?
What poet's page was ever like to this,
Or told the lesson of life's waning days
More forcibly, with more of natural truth,
Than yon red maples, or these poplars, white
As the pale shroud that wraps some human corse?
And then, again, the spirit of a King,
Clothed with that majesty most monarchs lack,
Might fit old Autumn for his royal rule:
For here is kingly ermine, cloth of gold,
And purple robes well worthy to be worn
By the best monarch that e'er donned a crown.
Proclaim him Royal Autumn! Poet King!
The Laureate of the Seasons, whose rare songs
Are such as lyrist never hoped to fling
On the fine ear of an admiring world.
Autumn, the Poet, Painter, and true King!
His gorgeous Ideality speaks forth
From the rare colors of the changing leaves;
And the ripe blood that swells his purple veins
Is as the glowing of a sacred fire.
He walks with Shelley's spirit on the cliffs
Of the Ethereal Caucasus, and o'er
The summits of the Euganean hills;
And meets the soul of Wordsworth, in profound
And philosophic meditation, rapt
In some great dream of love towards
The human race. The cheery Spring may come,
And touch the dreaming flowers into life,
Summer expand her leafy sea of green,
And wake the joyful wilderness to song,
As a fair hand strikes music from a lyre:
But Autumn, from its daybreak to its close,
Setting in florid beauty, like the sun,
Robed with rare brightness and ethereal flame,
Holds all the year's ripe fruitage in its hands,
And dies with songs of praise upon its lips.
And then, the Indian Summer, bland as June:
Some Tuscarora King, Algonquin Seer,
Or Huron Chief, returned to smoke the Pipe
Of Peace upon the ancient hunting grounds;
The mighty shade in spirit walking forth
To feel the beauty of his native woods,
Flashing in Autumn vestures, or to mark
The scanty remnants of the scattered tribes
Wending towards their graves. Few Braves are left;
Few mighty Hunters; fewer stately Chiefs,
Like great Tecumseth fit to take the field,
And lead the tribes to certain victory,
Choosing annihilation to defeat:
But having run thy gauntlet of their days,
This Autumn remnant of some unknown race,
Nearing the Winter of their sad decay,
Fall like dry leaves into the lap of Time;
Their old trunks sapless, their tough branches bare,
And Fate's shrill war-whoop thund'ring at their heels.