October

A poem by John Charles McNeill

The thought of old, dear things is in thine eyes,
O, month of memories!
Musing on days thine heart hath sorrow of,
Old joy, dead hope, dear love,

I see thee stand where all thy sisters meet
To cast down at thy feet
The garnered largess of the fruitful year,
And on thy cheek a tear.

Thy glory flames in every blade and leaf
To blind the eyes of grief;
Thy vineyards and thine orchards bend with fruit
That sorrow may be mute;

A hectic splendor lights thy days to sleep,
Ere the gray dusk may creep
Sober and sad along thy dusty ways,
Like a lone nun, who prays;

High and faint-heard thy passing migrant calls;
Thy lazy lizard sprawls
On his gray stone, and many slow winds creep
About thy hedge, asleep;

The sun swings farther toward his love, the south,
To kiss her glowing mouth;
And Death, who steals among thy purpling bowers,
Is deeply hid in flowers.

Would that thy streams were Lethe, and might flow
Where lotus blossoms blow,
And all the sweets wherewith thy riches bless
Might hold no bitterness!

Would, in thy beauty, we might all forget
Dead days and old regret,
And through thy realm might fare us forth to roam,
Having no thought for home!

And yet I feel, beneath thy queen's attire,
Woven of blood and fire,
Beneath the golden glory of thy charm
Thy mother heart beats warm,

And if, mayhap, a wandering child of thee,
Weary of land and sea,
Should turn him homeward from his dreamer's quest
To sob upon thy breast,

Thine arm would fold him tenderly, to prove
How thine eyes brimmed with love,
And thy dear hand, with all a mother's care,
Would rest upon his hair.

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