A Succession of Autumnal Poems by Jones Very

by Ann Neilson

Very is a poet dear to my heart. In life, his character seemed unlike any of his contemporaries, being stereotyped for his curious eccentricity and zealous and turgid religious views; yet, far after death, the nature of his devout and blessed soul continues to speak sincerely, humbly and eloquently in his sonnets and other poetical writings. I hope you are, also, able to find the underlying beauty within this solitary gentleman in the three poems below.

THE ACORN.
THE seed has started,—who can stay it? see,
The leaves are sprouting high above the ground;
Already o’er the flowers, its head; the tree
That rose beside it and that on it frowned,
Behold! is but a small bush by its side.
Still on! it cannot stop; its branches spread;
It looks o’er all the earth in giant pride.
The nations find upon its limbs their bread,
Its boughs their millions shelter from the heat,
Beneath its shade see kindreds, tongues, and all
That the wide world contains, they all retreat
Beneath the shelter of that acorn small
That late thou flung away; ’twas the best gift
That heaven e’er gave;—its head the low shall lift.

LINES
TO A WITHERED LEAF SEEN ON A POET’S TABLE.
POET’S hand has placed thee there,
Autumn’s brown and withered scroll!
Though to outward eye not fair,
Thou hast beauty for the soul,

Though no human pen has traced
On that leaf its learned lore,
Love divine the page has graced,—
What can words discover more?

Not alone dim Autumn’s blast
Echoes from yon tablet sear,—
Distant music of the Past
Steals upon the poet’s ear.

Voices sweet of summer hours,
Spring’s soft whispers murmur by;
Feathered songs from leafy bowers
Draw his listening soul on high.

THE DEAD.
I SEE them,—crowd on crowd they walk the earth
Dry leafless trees to autumn wind laid bare;
And in their nakedness find cause for mirth,
And all unclad would winter’s rudeness dare;
No sap doth through their clattering branches flow,
Whence springing leaves and blossoms bright appear;
Their hearts the living God have ceased to know
Who gives the spring time to th’ expectant year;
They mimic life, as if from him to steal
His glow of health to paint the livid cheek;
They borrow words for thoughts they cannot feel,
That with a seeming heart their tongue may speak;
And in their show of life more dead they live
Than those that to the earth with many tears they give.

(The poems in this post are borrowed from this transcription of Essays and Poems by Jones Very.)