The Last Walk In Autumn




O'ER the bare woods, whose outstretched hands

Plead with the leaden heavens in vain,

I see beyond the valley lands,

The sea's long level dim with rain.


Around me all things, stark and dumb,

Seem praying for the snows to come,

And, for the summer bloom and greenness gone,

With winter's sunset lights and dazzling morn atone.


Along the river's summer walk,

The withered tufts of asters nod;

And trembles on its arid stalk

The hoar plume of the golden rod.


And on a ground of somber fir,

And azure-studded Juniper,

The silver birch its buds of purple shows,

And scarlet berries tell where bloomed the sweet wild rose!


With mingled sound of horns and bells,

A far heard clang, the wild geese fly,

Storm-sent, from Arctic moors and fells,

Like a great arrow through the sky,—


Two dusky lines converged in one,

Chasing the southward flying sun;

While the brave snow-birds and the hardy jay

Call to them from the pines as if to bid them stay.


I passed this way a year ago:

The wind blew south; the noon of day

Was warm as June's; and save that snow

Flecked the low mountains far away,


And that the vernal-seeming breeze

Mocked faded grass and leafless trees,

I might have dreamed of summer as I lay

Watching the fallen leaves with the soft wind at play.


Since then, the winter blasts have piled

The white pagodas of the snow

On these rough slopes, and, strong and wild,

Yon river, in its overflow


Of spring-time rain and sun, set free,

Crashed with its ices to the sea;

And over these gray fields, then green and gold,

The summer corn has waved, the thunder's organ rolled.


Rich gift of God! A year of time!

What pomp of rise and shut of day,

What hues wherewith our Northern clime

Makes autumn's dropping woodlands gay,


What airs out-blown from ferny dells,

And clover-bloom and sweetbrier smells,

What songs of brooks and birds, what fruits and flowers,

Green woods and moonlit snows, have in its round been ours!


What greetings smile, what farewells wave,

What loved ones enter and depart!

The good, the beautiful, the brave,

The Heaven-lent treasures of the heart!


How conscious seems the frozen sod

And beechen slope whereon they trod!

The oak leaves rustle, and the dry grass bends

Beneath the shadowy feet of lost or absent friends.




J. G. Whittier.