A Day of the Indian Summer.

—Sarah H. Whitman.

“Yet one more smile, departing distant sun
Ere o’er the frozen earth the loud winds run
And snows are sifted o’er the meadows bare.”

A DAY of golden beauty!—Through the night
The hoar-frost gathered o’er each leaf and spray
Weaving its filmy network, thin and bright
And shimmering like silver in the ray
Of the soft, sunny morning—turf and tree
Pranct in its delicate embroidery,
And every withered stump and mossy stone,
With gems encrusted and with seed-pearl sown;
While in the hedge the frosted berries glow,
The scarlet holly and the purple sloe,
And all is gorgeous, fairy-like and frail
As the famed gardens of the Arabian tale.

How soft and still the varied landscape lies,
Calmly outspread beneath the smiling skies,
As if the earth in prodigal array
Of gems and broidered robes kept holiday;
Her harvest yielded and her work all done
Basking in beauty ‘neath the autumn sun!

Yet once more through the soft and balmy day
Up the brown hill-side, o’er the sunny brae
Far let us rove—or, through lone solitudes
Where “autumn’s smile beams through the yellow woods,”
Fondly retracing each sweet, summer haunt
And sylvan pathway—where the sunbeams slant
Through yonder copse, kindling the saffron stars
Of the witch-hazel with their golden bars,
Or, lingering down this dim and shadowy lane
Where still the damp sod wears an emerald stain,
Though ripe brown nuts hang clustering in the hedge
And the rude barberry o’er yon rocky ledge
Droops with its pendant corals. When the showers
Of April clothed this winding path with flowers,
Here oft we sought the violet, as it lay
Buried in beds of moss and lichens grey;
And still the aster greets us as we pass
With her faint smile—among the withered grass
Beside the way, lingering as loth of heart,
Like me, from these sweet solitudes to part.

Now seek we the dank borders of the stream
Where the tall fern-tufts shed a ruby gleam
Over the water from their crimsoned plumes,
And clustering near the modest gentian blooms
Lonely around—hallowed by sweetest song,
The last and loveliest of the floral throng.
Yet here we may not linger, for behold,
Where the stream widens, like a sea of gold
Outspreading far before us—all around
Steep wooded heights and sloping uplands bound
The sheltered scene—along the distant shore
Through colored woods the glinting sunbeams pour,
Touching their foliage with a thousand shades
And hues of beauty, as the red light fades
Upon the hill-side ‘neath yon floating shroud,
Or, from the silvery edges of the cloud
Pours down a brighter gleam. Gray willows lave
Their pendant branches in the crystal wave,
And slender birch-trees o’er its banks incline,
Whose tall, slight stems across the water shine
Like shafts of silver—there the tawny elm,
The fairest subject of the sylvan realm,
The tufted pine-tree and the cedar dark,
And the young chestnut, its smooth polished bark
Gleaming like porphyry in the yellow light,
The dark brown oak and the rich maple dight
In robes of scarlet, all are standing there
So still, so calm in the soft misty air
That not a leaf is stirring—nor a sound
Startles the deep repose that broods around,
Save when the robin’s melancholy song
Is heard from yonder coppice, and along
The sunny side of that low, moss-grown wall
That skirts our path, the cricket’s chirping call,
Or, the fond murmur of the drowsy bee
O’er some lone flowret on the sunny lea,
And, heard at intervals, a pattering sound
Of ripened acorns rustling to the ground
Through the crisp, withered leaves.—How lonely all,
How calmly beautiful! Long shadows fall
More darkly o’er the wave as day declines,
Yet from the west a deeper glory shines,
While every crested hill and rocky height
Each moment varies in the kindling light
To some new form of beauty—changing through
All shades and colors of the rainbow’s hue,
“The last still loveliest” till the gorgeous day
Melts in a flood of golden light away,
And all is o’er. Before to-morrow’s sun
Cold winds may rise and shrouding shadows dun
Obscure the scene—yet shall these fading hues
And fleeting forms their loveliness transfuse
Into the mind—and memory shall burn
The painting in on her enamelled urn
In undecaying colors. When the blast
Rages around and snows are gathering fast,
When musing sadly by the twilight hearth
Or lonely wandering through life’s crowded path
Its quiet beauty rising through the gloom
Shall soothe the languid spirits and illume
The drooping fancy—winning back the soul
To cheerful thoughts through nature’s sweet control.


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