Quiet Lanes, by Madison Cawein

From the lyrical eclogue "One Day and Another"

  Now rests the season in forgetfulness,
  Careless in beauty of maturity;
  The ripened roses round brown temples, she
  Fulfills completion in a dreamy guess.
  Now Time grants night the more and day the less:
  The gray decides; and brown
  Dim golds and drabs in dulling green express
  Themselves and redden as the year goes down.
  Sadder the fields where, thrusting hoary high
  Their tasseled heads, the Lear-like corn-stocks die,
  And, Falstaff-like, buff-bellied pumpkins lie.—
  Deepening with tenderness,
  Sadder the blue of hills that lounge along
  The lonesome west; sadder the song
  Of the wild redbird in the leafage yellow.—
  Deeper and dreamier, aye!
  Than woods or waters, leans the languid sky
  Above lone orchards where the cider press
  Drips and the russets mellow.
  Nature grows liberal: from the beechen leaves
  The beech-nuts' burrs their little purses thrust,
  Plump with the copper of the nuts that rust;
  Above the grass the spendthrift spider weaves
  A web of silver for which dawn designs
  Thrice twenty rows of pearls: beneath the oak,
  That rolls old roots in many gnarly lines,—
  The polished acorns, from their saucers broke,
  Strew oval agates.—On sonorous pines
  The far wind organs; but the forest near
  Is silent; and the blue-white smoke
  Of burning brush, beyond that field of hay,
  Hangs like a pillar in the atmosphere:
  But now it shakes—it breaks, and all the vines
  And tree tops tremble; see! the wind is here!
  Billowing and boisterous; and the smiling day
  Rejoices in its clamor. Earth and sky
  Resound with glory of its majesty,
  Impetuous splendor of its rushing by.—
  But on those heights the woodland dark is still,
  Expectant of its coming…. Far away
  Each anxious tree upon each waiting hill
  Tingles anticipation, as in gray
  Surmise of rapture. Now the first gusts play,
  Like laughter low, about their rippling spines;
  And now the wildwood, one exultant sway,
  Shouts—and the light at each tumultuous pause,
  The light that glooms and shines,
  Seems hands in wild applause.

  How glows that garden!—Though the white mists keep
  The vagabonding flowers reminded of
  Decay that comes to slay in open love,
  When the full moon hangs cold and night is deep;
  Unheeding still their cardinal colors leap
  Gay in the crescent of the blade of death,—
  Spaced innocents whom he prepares to reap,—
  Staying his scythe a breath
  To mark their beauty ere, with one last sweep,
  He lays them dead and turns away to weep.—
  Let me admire,—
  Before the sickle of the coming cold
  Shall mow them down,—their beauties manifold:
  How like to spurts of fire
  That scarlet salvia lifts its blooms, which heap
  With flame the sunlight. And, as sparkles creep
  Through charring vellum, up that window's screen
  The cypress dots with crimson all its green,
  The haunt of many bees.
  Cascading dark old porch-built lattices,
  The nightshade bleeds with berries; drops of blood
  Hanging in clusters 'mid the blue monk's-hood.

  There is a garden old,
  Where bright-hued clumps of zinnias unfold
  Their formal flowers; where the marigold
  Lifts a pinched shred of orange sunset caught
  And elfed in petals; the nasturtium,
  Deep, pungent-leaved and acrid of perfume,
  Hangs up a goblin bonnet, pixy-brought
  From Gnomeland. There, predominant red,
  And arrogant, the dahlia lifts its head,
  Beside the balsam's rose-stained horns of honey,
  Lost in the murmuring, sunny
  Dry wildness of the weedy flower bed;
  Where crickets and the weed-bugs, noon and night,
  Shrill dirges for the flowers that soon shall die,
  And flowers already dead.—
  I seem to hear the passing Summer sigh:
  A voice, that seems to weep,—
  "Too soon, too soon the Beautiful passes by!
  And soon, among these bowers
  Will dripping Autumn mourn with all her flowers"—

  If I, perchance, might peep
  Beneath those leaves of podded hollyhocks,
  That the bland wind with odorous murmurs rocks,
  I might behold her,—white
  And weary,—Summer, 'mid her flowers asleep,
  Her drowsy flowers asleep,
  The withered poppies knotted in her locks.