The First Frost Of Autumn.

A poem by Samuel Griswold Goodrich

At evening it rose in the hollow glade,
Where wild-flowers blushed 'mid silence and shade;
Where, hid from the gaze of the garish noon,
They were slily wooed by the trembling moon.
It rose for the guardian zephyrs had flown,
And left the valley that night alone.
No sigh was borne from the leafy hill,
No murmur came from the lapsing rill;
The boughs of the willow in silence wept,
And the aspen leaves in that sabbath slept.
The valley dreamed, and the fairy lute
Of the whispering reed by the brook was mute.
The slender rush o'er the glassy rill,
As a marble shaft, was erect and still,
And no airy sylph on the mirror wave,
A dimpling trace of its footstep gave.
The moon shone down, but the shadows deep
Of the pensile flowers, were hushed in sleep.
The pulse was still in that vale of bloom,
And the Spirit rose from its marshy tomb.
It rose o'er the breast of a silver spring,
Where the mist at morn shook its snowy wing,
And robed like the dew, when it woos the flowers.
It stole away to their secret bowers.

With a lover's sigh, and a zephyr's breath,
It whispered bliss, but its work was death:
It kissed the lip of a rose asleep,
And left it there on its stem to weep:
It froze the drop on a lily's leaf,
And the shivering blossom was bowed in grief.
O'er the gentian it breathed, and the withered flower
Fell blackened and scathed in its lonely bower;
It stooped to the asters all blooming around,
And kissed the buds as they slept on the ground.
They slept, but no morrow could waken their bloom,
And shrouded by moonlight, they lay in their tomb.

The Frost Spirit went, like the lover light,
In search of fresh beauty and bloom that night
Its wing was plumed by the moon's cold ray,
And noiseless it flew o'er the hills away.
It flew, yet its dallying fingers played,
With a thrilling touch, through the maple's shade;
It toyed with the leaves of the sturdy oak,
It sighed o'er the aspen, and whispering spoke
To the bending sumach, that stooped to throw
Its chequering shade o'er a brook below.
It kissed the leaves of the beech, and breathed
O'er the arching elm, with its ivy wreathed:
It climbed to the ash on the mountain's height
It flew to the meadow, and hovering light
O'er leafy forest and fragrant dell,
It bound them all in its silvery spell.
Each spreading bough heard the whispered bliss,
And gave its cheek to the gallant's kiss
Though giving, the leaves disdainingly shook,
As if refusing the boon they took.

Who dreamed that the morning's light would speak,
And show that kiss on the blushing cheek?
For in silence the fairy work went through
And no croning owl of the scandal knew:
No watch-dog broke from his slumbers light,
To tell the tale to the listening night.
But that which in secret is darkly done,
Is oft displayed by the morrow's sun;
And thus the leaves in the light revealed,
With their glowing hues what the night concealed.
The sweet, frail flowers that once welcomed the morn,
Now drooped in their bowers, all shrivelled and lorn;
While the hardier trees shook their leaves in the blast
Though tell-tale colors were over them cast.
The maple blushed deep as a maiden's cheek,
And the oak confessed what it would not speak.
The beech stood mute, but a purple hue
O'er its glossy robe was a witness true.
The elm and the ivy with varying dyes,
Protesting their innocence, looked to the skies:
And the sumach rouged deeper, as stooping to look,
It glanced at the colors that flared in the brook.
The delicate aspen grew nervous and pale,
As the tittering forest seemed full of the tale;
And the lofty ash, though it tossed up its bough,
With a puritan air on the mountain's brow,
Bore a purple tinge o'er its leafy fold,
And the hidden revel was gayly told!

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