Verse > Anthologies > Samuel Kettell, ed. > Specimens of American Poetry
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Samuel Kettell, ed.  Specimens of American Poetry.  1829.
 
Autumn Woods
By William Cullen Bryant (1794–1878)
 
      ERE, in the northern gale,
The summer tresses of the trees are gone,
The woods of autumn, all around our vale,
      Have put their glory on.
 
      The mountains that infold        5
In their wide sweep, the color’d landscape round,
Seem groups of giant kings in purple and gold,
      That guard the enchanted ground.
 
      I roam the woods that crown
The upland, where the mingled splendors glow,        10
Where the gay company of trees look down
      On the green fields below.
 
      My steps are not alone
In these bright walks; the sweet southwest, at play,
Flies, rustling, where the painted leaves are strown        15
      Along the winding way.
 
      And far in heaven, the while,
The sun, that sends that gale to wander here,
Pours out on the fair earth his quiet smile,—
      The sweetest of the year.        20
 
      Where now the solemn shade,
Verdure and gloom where many branches meet;
So grateful, when the noon of summer made
      The valleys sick with heat?
 
      Let in through all the trees        25
Come the strange rays; the forest depths are bright;
Their sunny-color’d foliage, in the breeze,
      Twinkles, like beams of light.
 
      The rivulet, late unseen,
Where bickering through the shrubs its waters run,        30
Shines with the image of its golden screen,
      And glimmerings of the sun.
 
      But, ’neath yon crimson tree,
Lover to listening maid might breathe his flame,
Nor mark, within its roseate canopy,        35
      Her blush of maiden shame.
 
      Oh, Autumn! why so soon
Depart the hues that make thy forests glad;
Thy gentle wind and thy fair sunny noon,
      And leave thee wild and sad!        40
 
      Ah, ’t were a lot too blest
For ever in thy color’d shades to stray
Amidst the kisses of the soft southwest
      To rove and dream for aye;
 
      And leave the vain low strife        45
That makes men mad—the tug for wealth and power,
The passions and the cares that wither life,
      And waste its little hour.
 
 
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