Verse > Anthologies > William Wilfred Campbell, ed. > The Oxford Book of Canadian Verse
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William Wilfred Campbell, comp.  The Oxford Book of Canadian Verse.  1913.
 
September
By Archibald Lampman (1861–1899)
 
NOW hath the summer reached her golden close,
  And lost, amid her cornfields, bright of soul,
Scarcely perceives from her divine repose
  How near, how swift, the inevitable goal:
Still, still, she smiles, though from her careless feet        5
  The bounty and the fruitful strength are gone,
  And through the soft long wondering days goes on
The silent sere decadence sad and sweet.
 
The kingbird and the pensive thrush are fled,
  Children of light, too fearful of the gloom;        10
The sun falls low, the secret word is said,
  The mouldering woods grow silent as the tomb;
Even the fields have lost their sovereign grace,
  The cone-flower and the marguerite; and no more,
  Across the river’s shadow-haunted floor,        15
The paths of skimming swallows interlace.
 
Already in the outland wilderness
  The forests echo with unwonted dins;
In clamorous gangs the gathering woodmen press
  Northward, and the stern winter’s toil begins.        20
Around the long low shanties, whose rough lines
  Break the sealed dreams of many an unnamed lake,
  Already in the frost-clear morns awake
The crash and thunder of the falling pines.
 
Where the tilled earth, with all its fields set free,        25
  Naked and yellow from the harvest lies,
By many a loft and busy granary,
  The hum and tumult of the threshers rise;
There the tanned farmers labour without slack,
  Till twilight deepens round the spouting mill,        30
  Feeding the loosened sheaves, or with fierce will,
Pitching waist deep upon the dusty stack.
 
Still a brief while, ere the old year quite pass,
  Our wandering steps and wistful eyes shall greet
The leaf, the water, the belovèd grass;        35
  Still from these haunts and this accustomed seat
I see the wood-wrapt city, swept with light,
  The blue long-shadowed distance, and, between,
  The dotted farm-lands with their parcelled green,
The dark pine forest and the watchful height.        40
 
I see the broad rough meadow stretched away
  Into the crystal sunshine, wastes of sod,
Acres of withered vervain, purple-grey,
  Branches of aster, groves of golden-rod;
And yonder, towards the sunlit summit, strewn        45
  With shadowy boulders, crowned and swathed with weed,
  Stand ranks of silken thistles, blown to seed,
Long silver fleeces shining like the noon.
 
In far-off russet cornfields, where the dry
  Grey-shocks stand peaked and withering, half concealed        50
In the rough earth, the orange pumpkins lie,
  Full-ribbed; and in the windless pasture-field
The sleek red horses o’er the sun-warmed ground
  Stand pensively about in companies,
  While all around them from the motionless trees        55
The long clean shadows sleep without a sound.
 
Under cool elm-trees floats the distant stream,
  Moveless as air; and o’er the vast warm earth
The fathomless daylight seems to stand and dream,
  A liquid cool elixir—all its girth        60
Bound with faint haze, a frail transparency,
  Whose lucid purple barely veils and fills
  The utmost valleys and the thin last hills,
Nor mars one whit their perfect clarity.
 
Thus without grief the golden days go by,        65
  So soft we scarcely notice how they wend,
And like a smile half happy, or a sigh,
  The summer passes to her quiet end;
And soon, too soon, around the cumbered eaves
  Sly frosts shall take the creepers by surprise,        70
  And through the wind-touched reddening woods shall rise
October with the rain of ruined leaves.
 
 
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