Chant For Autumn.

A poem by George Parsons Lathrop

Veiled in visionary haze,
Behold, the ethereal autumn days
Draw near again!
In broad array,
With a low, laborious hum
These ministers of plenty come,
That seem to linger, while they steal away.

O strange, sweet charm
Of peaceful pain,
When yonder mountain's bended arm
Seems wafting o'er the harvest-plain
A message to the heart that grieves,
And round us, here, a sad-hued rain
Of leaves that loosen without number
Showering falls in yellow, umber,
Red, or russet, 'thwart the stream!
Now pale Sorrow shall encumber
All too soon these lands, I deem;
Yet who at heart believes
The autumn, a false friend,
Can bring us fatal harm?
Ah, mist-hung avenues in dream
Not more uncertainly extend
Than the season that receives
A summer's latest gleam!

But the days of death advance:
They tarry not, nor turn!
I will gather the ashes of summer
In my heart, as an urn.

Oh draw thou nearer,
Spirit of the distant height,
Whither now that slender flight
Of swallows, winging, guides my sight!
The hill cloth seem to me
A fading memory
Of long delight,
And in its distant blue
Half hideth from my view
This shrinking season that must now retire;
And so shall hold it, hopeful, a desire
And knowledge old as night and always new.
Draw nigher! And, with bended brow,
I will be thy reverer
Through the long winter's term!

So, when the snows hold firm,
And the brook is dumb;
When sharp winds come
To flay the hill-tops bleak,
And whistle down the creek;
While the unhappy worm
Crawls deeper down into the ground,
To 'scape Frost's jailer on his round;
Thy form to me shall speak
From the wide valley's bound,
Recall the waving of the last bird's wing,
And help me hope for spring.

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