There Is A Spell In Autumn

There is a spell in autumn early,
One all too brief, of an enchantment rare:
The nights are radiant and pearly,
The days, pellucid, crystal-clear.

Where played the sickle and fell the corn, a mellow,
A warm and breathless stillness reigns supreme;
Spanning the brown and idle furrow,
A dainty thread of cobweb gleams.

The birds have flown, we hear no more their clamour,
But winter's angry winds not soon will start to blow -
Upon the empty fields there pours the azure glow


The White Man's Foot

In his lodge beside a river,
Close beside a frozen river,
Sat an old man, sad and lonely.
White his hair was as a snow-drift;
Dull and low his fire was burning,
And the old man shook and trembled,
Folded in his Waubewyon,
In his tattered white-skin-wrapper,
Hearing nothing but the tempest
As it roared along the forest,
Seeing nothing but the snow-storm,
As it whirled and hissed and drifted.
All the coals were white with ashes,
And the fire was slowly dying,
As a young man, walking lightly,


The Warden of the Cinque Ports

A mist was driving down the British Channel,
The day was just begun,
And through the window-panes, on floor and panel,
Streamed the red autumn sun.

It glanced on flowing flag and rippling pennon,
And the white sails of ships;
And, from the frowning rampart, the black cannon
Hailed it with feverish lips.

Sandwich and Romney, Hastings, Hithe, and Dover
Were all alert that day,
To see the French war-steamers speeding over,
When the fog cleared away.

Sullen and silent, and like couchant lions,


The Wilderness

Come away! come away! there’s a frost along the marshes,
And a frozen wind that skims the shoal where it shakes the dead black water;
There’s a moan across the lowland and a wailing through the woodland
Of a dirge that sings to send us back to the arms of those that love us.
There is nothing left but ashes now where the crimson chills of autumn
Put off the summer’s languor with a touch that made us glad
For the glory that is gone from us, with a flight we cannot follow,
To the slopes of other valleys and the sounds of other shores.


The Wild Honey-Suckle

Fair flower, that dost so comely grow,
Hid in this silent, dull retreat,
Untouched thy honied blossoms blow,
Unseen thy little branches greet;
...No roving foot shall crush thee here,
...No busy hand provoke a tear.

By Nature's self in white arrayed,
She bade thee shun the vulgar eye,
And planted here the gaurdian shade,
And sent soft waters murmuring by;
...Thus quietly thy summer goes,
...Thy days declinging to repose.

Smit with those charms, that must decay,
I grieve to see your future doom;


The Widow and Her Son XXI

Night fell over North Lebanon and snow was covering the villages surrounded by the Kadeesha Valley, giving the fields and prairies the appearance of a great sheet of parchment upon which the furious Nature was recording her many deeds. Men came home from the streets while silence engulfed the night.

In a lone house near those villages lived a woman who sat by her fireside spinning wool, and at her side was her only child, staring now at the fire and then at his mother.


The Widening Spell of the Leaves

--The Carpathian Frontier, October, 1968
--for my brother

Once, in a foreign country, I was suddenly ill.
I was driving south toward a large city famous
For so little it had a replica, in concrete,
In two-thirds scale, of the Arc de Triomphe stuck
In the midst of traffic, & obstructing it.
But the city was hours away, beyond the hills
Shaped like the bodies of sleeping women.
Often I had to slow down for herds of goats
Or cattle milling on those narrow roads, & for


The Vagabond

Give to me the life I love,
Let the lave go by me,
Give the jolly heaven above
And the byway nigh me.
Bed in the bush with stars to see,
Bread I dip in the river -
There's the life for a man like me,
There's the life for ever.

Let the blow fall soon or late,
Let what will be o'er me;
Give the face of earth around
And the road before me.
Wealth I seek not, hope nor love,
Nor a friend to know me;
All I seek, the heaven above
And the road below me.

Or let autumn fall on me


The Trosachs

THERE 's not a nook within this solemn Pass,
   But were an apt confessional for one
   Taught by his summer spent, his autumn gone,
That Life is but a tale of morning grass
Wither'd at eve. From scenes of art which chase
   That thought away, turn, and with watchful eyes
   Feed it 'mid Nature's old felicities,
Rocks, rivers, and smooth lakes more clear than glass
Untouch'd, unbreathed upon. Thrice happy quest,
   If from a golden perch of aspen spray
   (October's workmanship to rival May)


The Upstairs Room

It must have been in March the rug wore through.
Now the day passes and I stare
At warped pine boards my father's father nailed,
At the twisted grain. Exposed, where emptiness allows,
Are the wormholes of eighty years; four generations' shoes
Stumble and scrape and fall
To the floor my father stained,
The new blood streaming from his head. The drift
Of autumn fires and a century's cigars, that gun's
Magnanimous and brutal smoke, endure.
In March the rug was ragged as the past. The thread


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