Verse > Anthologies > Jessie B. Rittenhouse, ed. > The Second Book of Modern Verse
See also: William Ellery Leonard Biography
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Jessie B. Rittenhouse, ed. (1869–1948).  The Second Book of Modern Verse.  1922.
 
Indian Summer
 
William Ellery Leonard (1876–1944)
 
 
(After completing a book for one now dead)
 
 
  (O Earth-and-Autumn of the Setting Sun,
  She is not by, to know my task is done.)
In the brown grasses slanting with the wind,
Lone as a lad whose dog’s no longer near,
Lone as a mother whose only child has sinned,        5
Lone on the loved hill … and below me here
The thistle-down in tremulous atmosphere
Along red clusters of the sumach streams;
The shrivelled stalks of golden-rod are sere,
And crisp and white their flashing old racemes.        10
(… forever … forever …. forever …)
This is the lonely season of the year,
This is the season of our lonely dreams.
 
  (O Earth-and-Autumn of the Setting Sun,
  She is not by, to know my task is done!)        15
The corn-shocks westward on the stubble plain
Show like an Indian village of dead days;
The long smoke trails behind the crawling train,
And floats atop the distant woods ablaze
With orange, crimson, purple. The low haze        20
Dims the scarped bluffs above the inland sea,
Whose wide and slaty waters in cold glaze
Await yon full-moon of the night-to-be,
(… far … and far … and far …)
These are the solemn horizons of man’s ways,        25
These are the horizons of solemn thought to me.
 
  (O Earth-and-Autumn of the Setting Sun,
  She is not by, to know my task is done!)
And this the hill she visited, as friend;
And this the hill she lingered on, as bride—        30
Down in the yellow valley is the end:
They laid her … in no evening autumn tide …
Under fresh flowers of that May morn, beside
The queens and cave-women of ancient earth …
 
This is the hill … and over my city’s towers,        35
Across the world from sunset, yonder in air,
Shines, through its scaffoldings, a civic dome
Of pilèd masonry, which shall be ours
To give, completed, to our children there …
And yonder far roof of my abandoned home        40
Shall house new laughter … Yet I tried … I tried
And, ever wistful of the doom to come,
I built her many a fire for love … for mirth …
(When snows were falling on our oaks outside,
Dear, many a winter fire upon the hearth) …        45
(… farewell … farewell … farewell …)
We dare not think too long on those who died,
While still so many yet must come to birth.
 

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