Verse > Anthologies > > Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. > The Oxford Book of Victorian Verse
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Arthur Quiller-Couch, comp.  The Oxford Book of Victorian Verse.  1922.
 
Fall of the Year
By Henry Ellison (1811–1880)
 
WHEN Grasshopper, chirping late,
Easing thus his merry heart,
Not from cares but over-joy
Tells that Summer ’s out of date,
Yet thereat no fears annoy        5
His blithe spirit—not one smart
For lost moments, wishes ill—
As he sang so sings he still;
In his life-dregs keeping holy
That joy-essence fresh and clear,        10
Free from taint of melancholy,
Which from Nature, when the Year
Saw his birthday young like him,
He received, a boon of Glory
Man might envy, whom a whim—        15
A mere nothing—can o’er-dim …
 
When the Redbreast whistles blithe,
Taking of sweet song his fill,
Tho’ the other birds be still;
And the lambs full-sized bleat strong,        20
Well-wool’d ’gainst the Winter’s chill;
When no more the reaping-scythe
Finds a cornstalk to cut down,
And the stubble field looks brown
Where the formless vapour shows        25
Objects indistinct and wrong;
When the daylight shorter grows,
And owl’s and bat’s delight is long;
When, nigh eveless, Night draws on,
Waiting scarce for set of sun;        30
Like enchantress whose high spell
Works a sudden miracle …
 
When the peasant, weather-wise,
Shakes his grey head at the skies;
By his blazing cottage-flame        35
Mutters Winter’s chilly name,
Lives o’er the past, in many a tale,
And prophesies, and quaffs his ale:
While in chimney-nook to sleep
Tirèd dog and urchin creep:        40
 
When the weather-signs are rife,
Telling of new Season’s life;
And all creatures, instinct-wise,
Tho’ taught not to philosophise,
Now prepare, each in his way,        45
To protract life’s little day;
And thy own heart plainer still
Than falling leaf or faded hill,
Tells thee that the Summer ’s flown
With all joys that thou hast known …        50
 
Then look thro’ thy heart, and say
What the Summer in its day
Has ripen’d there of good and bright
That may glad thy after-sight.
Has it had its harvest-home?        55
Its Spring growth? its Summer bloom?
And, when bloom has pass’d away,
Has it had its seeding-day
Of well-ripen’d season’d thought
From Experience duly bought;        60
Of wise joys which in the mind
Seeds of better leave behind;
Joys by sorrow touch’d and tried,
And freed from earthly dross and pride;
Such as unreproved and free        65
Sweeten after-memory?
Has the Summer left for thee
In the soul’s high-granary
Produce not of hasty growth
But of well-maturèd worth?        70
Fellow-creature Love and Peace,
With a mind and heart at ease,
And a love for everything
With which Man holds communing,
From the meanest worm that creeps        75
To the babe that cradled sleeps?
Has the Summer left thy heart
That which passes show, the art
Like wise Nature to prepare
From the Past a Future fair?        80
As the Earth within her breast,
When she seems at barren rest
Still prepares in her good time
Coming Springs, and from the slime
Of the brute soil moulds to life        85
Forms with grace and beauty rife;
So within thy inmost soul
Striving t’wards a higher goal,
From this life’s impediments,
And the body’s downward bents,        90
Frame thou the wings to upward aims
As from the gross wood rise pure flames.
In thy spirit’s fertile womb
Mould thou shapes not for the tomb:
There let Faith beget on Love        95
The angel thou shalt be Above!
 
 
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