When in Her Hour of Still Decay

WHEN in her hour of still decay,
The matron Earth to her worn breast
The relics of her Spring array
Folds, ere she sink in quiet rest;
Envying her calm, thou wak'st that hour,
Prince of the tainted air's rude power:
And twisting, sweeping, rushing, rending,
With every gentlest motion blending
Of frailest shrub in greenwood lair,
Before their time thou lay'st them bare.

E'en so when Christian souls are sere,
And fading leaves of earthly life
Drop one by one, and leave all clear
For a new Spring, whose buds are rife
Already, then the unsleeping foe
Watches to lay that glory low;
Some breath of passion wild preparing,
Pride, hate, desire's untimely glaring;
And in a moment mars our best.
Autumnal wanderers, keep your nest!
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