The quality of light on such a day,
Late autumn, when the leaves are in their fall,
It is enough to overwhelm, dismay
The senses, with the beauty of it all.
“Indian Summer,” as we used to call
The patch of temperate weather after cold,
Luxuriant so that we wish to stall
Time’s movement—back the winter’s onslaught hold!
As everywhere around are yellow, gold,
Bright reds, deep burgundies of falling leaves
That, even though they die do call out bold
So brilliantly that not a sad heart grieves
Stunned into witness. If the time deceives,
For in a few short days will all be bare
The trees, the season granting no reprieves,
On such a day, with color everywhere
The soul is overjoyed too much to care,
And dare not look beyond the present scene
In prescience, but clasps the moment rare,
Itself made vibrant, flush and brilliantine.
Some of the oaks and taller trees are seen
To have no leaves already, as the first
To shed, while others, empty air between
Their naked boughs, display there interspersed
Few solitary leaves, a red orange burst
Against the clarity of sun-filled sky,
The leaves of all the trees suffused immersed
Save where there falls a shadow by and by.
The leaves are trembling, some unwittingly
Shaken loose by a passing, tender breeze,
As everywhere, i’ the air, they scattered fly
And make their way, late from the limbs of trees,
Down to the carpet lush by curled degrees;
While too a fragrant scent the air has carried,
Its wafture gently, filled with memories
Of all the autumns former time has buried.
Yet if nature conform, its pattern varied
Refreshes and surprises all the time,
For it will not be rushed, will not be harried
But all the same, its pageantry sublime
Devolves to its conclusion sure as rhyme
With which the human heart must wrest and grapple.
Alone amidst this glorious noontide I’m
Strolling within the autumn world my chapel
Which does not need the sanctity of papal
Bull to be house of worship, when I stop
Utterly stunned before a bright-orange maple,
Of which some few leaves have begun to drop
But there is like a fire upon its top,
While on the grass beneath it a thin blanket,
Coverlet of the same orange brilliant crop,
So that my first instinct is but to thank it,
As through my eyes the soul imbibed and drank it
In all its standing majesty. O, Lord,
Thou hast prepared this day such plenteous banquet,
A cornucopia rich with fruit and gourd
That I believe soul’s larder might be stored
For an infinity; could I but stay
Transfixed in time, not ever growing bored.
Were I to die this year, and pass away
Before the spring, Lord, yet I must be gay.