By John Burroughs
Now comes the sunset of the verdant year,
Chemic fires, still and slow,
Burn in the leaves, till trees and groves appear
Dipped in the sunset’s glow.
Through many-stained windows of the wood
The day sends down its beams,
Till all the acorn-punctured solitude
Of sunshine softly dreams.
I take my way where sentry cedars stand
Along the bushy lane,
And whitethroats stir and call on every hand,
Or lift their wavering strain;
The hazel-bush holds up its crinkled gold
And scents the loit’ring breeze —
A nuptial wreath amid its leafage old
That laughs at frost’s decrees.
A purple bloom is creeping o’er the ash —
Dull wine against the day,
While dusky cedars wear a crimson sash
Of woodbine’s kindled spray.
I see the stolid oak tree’s smould’ring fire
Sullen against emerald rye;
And yonder sugar maple’s wild desire
To match the sunset sky.
On hedge and tree the bittersweet has hung
Its fruit that looks a flower;
While alder spray with coral berries strung
Is part of autumn’s dower.
The plaintive calls of bluebirds fill the air,
Wand’ring voices in the morn;
The ruby kinglet, flitting here and there,
Winds again his elfin horn.
Now Downy shyly drills his winter cell,
His white chips strew the ground;
While squirrels bark from hill or acorned dell—
A true autumnal sound.
I hear the feathered thunder of the grouse
Soft rolling through the wood,
Or pause to note where hurrying mole or mouse
Just stirs the solitude.
Anon the furtive flock-call of the quail
Comes up from weedy fields;
Afar the mellow thud of lonely flail
Its homely music yields.
Behold the orchards piled with painted spheres
New plucked from bending trees;
And bronzèd huskers tossing golden ears
In genial sun and breeze.
Once more the tranquil days brood o’er the hills,
And soothe earth’s toiling breast;
A benediction all the landscape fills
That breathes of peace and rest