Monday, 18 November 2019

Poetry Revisited: Autumn in the Hills by Frances Fuller Victor

Autumn in the Hills

(from Poems: 1900)

November came that day,
⁠And all the air was gray
⁠With delicate mists, blown down
From hilltops by the south wind’s balmy breath;
⁠And all the oaks were brown
⁠As Egypt’s kings in death.
⁠The maple’s crown of gold
⁠Laid tarnished on the wold;
The alder, and the ash, the aspen and the willow,
⁠Wore tattered suits of yellow.

⁠The soft October rains
⁠Had left some scarlet stains
Of color on the landscape’s neutral ground;
⁠Those fine ephemeral things,
⁠The winged notes of sound,
⁠That sing the “Harvest Home“
⁠Of ripe Autumn in the gloam
Of the deep and bosky woods, in the field and by the river,
⁠Sang that day their best endeavor.

⁠I said: “In what sweet place
⁠Shall we meet, face to face,
⁠Her loveliest self to see—
Meet Nature, at her sad autumnal rites,
⁠And learn the mystery
⁠Of her unnamed delights?“
⁠Then you said: “Let us go
⁠Where the late violets blow
In hollows of the hills, under dead oak leaves hiding;—
⁠We’ll find she’s there abiding.“

⁠Do we recall that day?
⁠Has its grace passed away—
⁠Its tenderest, dream-like tone,
Like one of Turner’s landscapes limned on air—
⁠Has its fine perfume flown
⁠And left the memory bare?
⁠Not so; its charm is still
⁠Over wood, vale and hill—
The ferny odor sweet, the humming insect chorus,
⁠The spirit that before us

⁠Enticed us with delights
⁠To the blue, breezy heights.
⁠O, beautiful hills that stand
Serene ‘twixt earth and heaven, with the grace
⁠Of both to make you grand,—
⁠Your loveliness leaves place
⁠For nothing fairer, fair,
⁠And complete beyond compare,
O, lovely purple hills! O, first day of November,
⁠Be sure that I remember.

Salem. Or., 1869.

Frances Fuller Victor (1826-1902)
American historian, novelist and poet

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