The Literary Maiden

A compendium of obscure 19th century writing.

Tag: autumn poetry

“Autumn Thoughts” by John Greenleaf Whittier

After an unexpected absence, I am back to continue my Autumnal-themed poetry and prose postings. To celebrate, I present a poem by one of my favorite poets-you’ve guessed it(!)- dear John G. Whittier. —Ann Neilson

Autumn Thoughts
John Greenleaf Whittier

GONE hath the Spring, with all its flowers,
And gone the Summer’s pomp and show,
And Autumn, in his leafless bowers,
Is waiting for the Winter’s snow.

I said to Earth, so cold and gray,
“An emblem of myself thou art;”
“Not so,” the Earth did seem to say,
“For Spring shall warm my frozen heart.”

I soothe my wintry sleep with dreams
Of warmer sun and softer rain,
And wait to hear the sound of streams
And songs of merry birds again.

But thou, from whom the Spring hath gone,
For whom the flowers no longer blow,
Who standest blighted and forlorn,
Like Autumn waiting for the snow;

No hope is thine of sunnier hours,
Thy Winter shall no more depart;
No Spring revive thy wasted flowers,
Nor Summer warm thy frozen heart.

Elizabeth Oaksmith’s “The First Leaf of Autumn”

“…for the breath of autumn had passed over them changing their color, but as yet few were displaced. The distant hills, and slopes of the river, looked as if some gorgeous drapery had been drawn over the rich earth.”—The Western Captive and Other Indian Stories by Elizabeth Oakes Smith, pg. 139

How glorious is this time of transition? I never feel I can exhaust my delight with autumn and its artistic presentation. I am grateful for poets of the past who are able to adequately describe the rich beauty of the season and its fruitful splendor. Thus, Elizabeth Oaksmith is today’s spotlighted poet, due to her skillful representation of Fall. Was there no end to her other-worldly abilities as a writer?

However, before the poem—although I do not usually pair music with my transcriptions, I happened to be listening to this song by South Korean musician Yiruma whilst transcribing Oaksmith’s poem, and I feel it sonorously echoes her words.

“The First Leaf of Autumn”

I SEE thee fall, thou quivering leaf, of faint and yellow hue,
The first to feel the autumn winds, that, blighting, o’er thee blew—
Slow-parted from the rocking branch, I see thee floating by,
To brave, all desolate and lone, the bleak autumnal sky.

Alas! the first, the yellow leaf—how sadly falls it there,
To rustle on the crispéd grass, with every chilly air!
It tells of those that soon must drop all withered from the tree,
And it hath waked a sadder chord in deathless memory.

Thou eddying leaf, away, away, there’s sorrow in thy hue;
Thou soundst the knell of sunny hours, of buds, and liquid dew—
And thou dost tell how from the heart the blooms of hope decay;
How each one lingers, loath to part, till all are swept away.

Autumn’s Unabated Appearance

Today marks the Autumn Equinox—those two delightful words which bring a crisp taste of nostalgia to the tongue. Cozily blanketed evenings; effervescent leaves resignedly dropping to the earth, blanketing the world in gamboge and golden hues; warm fires snapping vivaciously amidst an atmosphere of dark cheer; these are merely a few of the memories I carry with me of Autumn from my younger years.

I must be candid, Autumn is debatably my favorite season, albeit being closely tied with Winter. Therefore, please look forward to a new Autumnal-themed poem every few days or so (or perhaps more frequently than that) throughout the rest of this month and into October. It is a season to be celebrated, and several of my dead literary friends certainly left us with substantial content to last us several more Falls to come. To begin, I want to share a poem that I have greatly enjoyed for a while; one which is now, I believe, transcribed for the first time here in cyberspace.

By James Gates Percival

Now the growing year is over,
And the shepherd’s tinkling bell
Faintly from its winter cover
Rings a low farewell:—
Now the birds of Autumn shiver,
Where the wither’d beech-leaves quiver,
O’er the dark and lazy river,
In the rocky dell.

Now the mist is on the mountains,
Reddening in the rising sun;
Now the flowers around the fountains
Perish one by one:—
Not a spire of grass is growing,
But the leaves that late were glowing,
Now its blighted green are strowing
With a mantle dun.

Now the torrent brook is stealing
Faintly down the furrow’d glade—
Not as when in winter pealing,
Such a din is made,
That the sound of cataracts falling
Gave no echo so appalling,
As its hoarse and heavy brawling
In the pine’s black shade.

Darkly blue the mist is hovering
Round the clifted rock’s bare height—
All the bordering mountains covering
With a dim, uncertain light:—
Now, a fresher wind prevailing,
Wide its heavy burden sailing,
Deepens as the day is failing,
Fast the gloom of night.

Slow the blood-stain’d moon is riding
Through the still and hazy air,
Like a sheeted spectre gliding
In a torch’s glare:—
Few the hours, her light is given—
Mingling clouds of tempest driven
O’er the mourning face of heaven,
All is blackness there.