Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

Down leaps and doffs his frock alert and plies
The shining fork. Down to the stubble's edge
The easy wain descends half built, then turns
And labours up again. From pile to pile
With rustling step the swain proceeds, and still
Bears to the groaning load the well-poised sheaf;
The gleaner follows, and with studious eye
And bended shoulders, traverses the field

To cull the scattered ear, his perquisite. In the 'Harvest Hymn,' by Mrs. Hemans, we have some beautiful and most appropriate thoughts on this season :

Now autumn strews on every plain,
His mellow fruits and fertile grain;
And laughing plenty, crown’d with sheaves,
With purple grapes,

and spreading leaves,
In rich profusion pours around
Her flowing treasures on the ground.
Oh! mark the great, the liberal hand,
That scatters blessings o'er the land ;
And to the God of nature raise
The grateful song, the hymn of praise.
The infant corn, in vernal hours,
He nurtured with his gentle showers,
And bade the summer clouds diffuse
Their balmy store of genial dews.
He mark'd the tender stem arise,
Till ripen'd by the glowing skies,
And now, matured, his work behold,
The cheering harvest waves in gold.
To nature's God with joy we raise
The grateful song, the hymn of praise.
The valleys echo to the strains
Of blooming maids and village swains-
To him they tune the lay sincere,
Whose bounty crowns the smiling year.
The sounds from every woodland borne,
The sighing winds that bend the corn,
The yellow fields around proclaim
His mighty, everlasting name.
To nature's God united raise

The grateful song, the hymn of praise. As soon as the harvest is gathered, there is great rejoicing amongst those who have contributed to the safe garnering of the crops. The labourers

6

Crowned with ears of corn now come,

And to the pipe sing harvest home. The festive board is prepared, and they all share the liberal hospitality of the master, in the shape of a good supper, to which they do ample justice.

By degrees, yet surely, as has been remarked, autumn loses its early splendour, and nature becomes sober and even solemn in its beauty. The foliage of the woods and hedgerows changes its hue, becoming 'hectic, and grey, and fever-red,' a sure sign of the decay of vegetable life in the leafy structure.

See the fading many-colour'd woods,
Shade deepening over shade, the country round
Imbrown; a crowded umbrage, dusk, and dun,
Of every hue, from wan declining green

To sooty dark. The particular colouring of the fading leaf varies with the species, and is maintained from age to age with unfailing precision. The leaves of the plane-tree become tawny; those of the hazel, yellow; of the oak, yellowish

T green; of the sycamore, obscure brown; of the maple, pale yellow; of the ash, fine lemon yellow; of the elm, orange ; of the hawthorn, tawny yellow ; of the cherry, red; of the hornbeam, bright yellow; of the willow, hoary; and most glorious is the appearance of the woodlands, owing to the variegated tints, when the component trees are of several species.'* Pope, in one of his letters, writes of Autumn :- It is the best time of the

year for a painter ; there is more variety of colours in the leaves; the prospects begin to open, through the thinner woods over the valleys, and through the high canopies of trees to the higher arch of heaven; the dews of the morning impearl every thorn, and scatter diamonds on the verdant mantle of the earth; the forests are fresh and wholesome.' Rarely now is heard the song of birds; but

Congregated thrushes, linnets, larks,
And each wild throat, whose artless strains so late
Swelled all the music of the swarming shades,
Robbed of their tuneful souls, now shivering sit

* Leisure Hour.

[ocr errors]

On the dead tree, a dull despondent flock;
With not a brightness waving o'er their plumes,

And nought sare chattering discord in their note.
Very soon with every breeze that blows-

The leaves, thin dancers upon air,
Go eddying round.
Thomson writes :-

Now the leaf
Incessant rustles from the mournful grore;
Oft startling such as studious walk below,
And slowly circles through the waving air.
But should a quicker breeze among the boughs
Sob, o'er the sky the leafy deluge streams;
Till, choked and matted with the dreary shower
The forest-walks, at every rising gale,
Roll wide the wither'd waste, and whistle bleak.
Fled is the blasted verdure of the fields ;
And, shrunk into their beds, the flowery race
Their sunny robes resign. Een what remained
Of stronger fruits falls from the naked tree;
And woods, fields, gardens, orchards, all around,

The desolated prospect thrills the soul. One of our great preachers,* in a "Sermon on Autumn,' says:— There is an “eventide " in the yeara season, as we now witness, when the sun withdraws his propitious light, when the winds arise and the leaves fall, and nature around us seems to sink into decay. When we go out into the fields in the evening of the year, a different voice approaches us. We regard, even in spite of ourselves, the still but steady advances of time. A few days ago, and the summer of the year was grateful, and every element was filled with life, and the sun of heaven seemed to glory in his ascendant. He is now enfeebled in his power; the desert no more - blossoms like the rose; the song of joy is no moro heard among the branches, and the earth is strewed with that foliage which once bespoke the magnificence of summer.'

The days gradually shorten, and the nights grow longer and longer. In the words of Thomson :

* Rev. Archibald Alison (1757–1838).

[ocr errors]

The western sun withdraws the shortened day,
And humid evening, gliding o'er the sky,
In her chill progress, to the ground condensed
The vapours throws. Where creeping waters ooze,
Where marshes stagnate, and where rivers wind,
Cluster the rolling fogs, and swim along
The dusky-mantled lawn. Meanwhile the moon,
Full-orb'd, and breaking through the scatter'd clouds,
Shows her broad visage in the crimsoned east.
Wide the pale deluge floats, and streaming mild
O’er the skied mountain to the shadowy vale,
While rocks and floods reflect the quivering gleam,
The whole air whitens with a boundless tide

Of silver radiance, trembling round the world. The dawning of the last autumnal day is pictured in beautiful language by the same poet:

The lengthened night elapsed, the morning shines
Serene, in all her dewy beauty bright,
Unfolding fair the last autumnal day.
And now the mounting sun dispels the fog;
The rigid hoar-frost melts before his beam;
And hung on every spray, on every blade

Of grass, the myriad dow-drops twinkle round. And by another poet, George Crabbe, one of the last days of autumn is thus described :

Cold grow the foggy morn, the day was brief,
Loose on the cherry hung the crimson leaf;
The dew dwelt ever on the herb; the woods
Roared with strong blasts, with mighty showers the floods :
All green was vanished save of pine and yew,
That still displayed their melancholy hue;
Save the green holly with its berries red,
And the green moss that o'er the gravel spread.

Tennyson, the present poet-laureate, says of 'The Autumn Flower Garden':

A spirit haunts the year's last hours,
Dwelling amid these yellowing bowers :

To himself he talks ;
For at eventide, listening earnestly,
At his work you may hear him sob and sigh

In the walks ;

Earthward he boweth the heavy stalks
Of the mouldering flowers.

[ocr errors]

Heavily hangs the broad sunflower

Over its grave i' the earth so chilly ;
Heavily hangs the hollyhock,

Heavily hangs the tiger-lily.
The air is damp, and hush’d, and close,
As a sick man's room when he taketh repose

An hour before death;
My very heart faints and my whole soul grieres
At the moist rich smell of the rotting leaves,

And the breath

Of the fading edges of box beneath,
And the year's last rose.

Heavily hangs the broad sunflower

Over its grave i' the earth so chilly ;
Heavily hangs the hollyhock,

Heavily hangs the tiger-lily. And the Characteristics of Autumn, Shelley thus gives :

The warm sun is failing, the bleak wind is wailing,
The bare bougbs are sighing, the pale flowers are dying,

And the year
On the earth her death-bed, in a shroud of leaves dead,

Is lying.
The chill rain is falling, the night-worm is crawling,
The rivers are swelling, the thunder is knelling

For the year ;
The blithe swallows are flown, and the lizards each gone

To his dwelling. Autumn's changes are full of teaching to all. Another extract from the “ Sermon on Autumn' puts this teaching strikingly. The preacher says:

—We feel that all we witness is the emblem of our own fate. Such also in a few years will be our own condition. The blossoms of our spring, the pride of our summer, will also fade into decay; and the pulse that now beats high will gradually sink, and then must stop for ever. The mightiest pageantry of life will pass—the loudest notes of triumph or of conquest will be silent in the grave; the wicked, wherever active, will “ cease from troubling, and the weary, wherever suffering, “ will be at rest."

a

6

[ocr errors]
« ZurückWeiter »