Madison Julius Cawein Poems >>
Late October

Ah, haughty hills, sardonic solitudes,
  What wizard touch hath, crowning you with gold,
 Cast Tyrian purple o'er broad-shouldered woods,
  And to your pride anointed empire sold
 For wan traditioned death, whose misty moods
  Shake each huge throne of quarried shadows cold?

 Now where the agate-foliaged forests sleep,
  Bleak briars are ruby-berried, and the brush
 Flames--when the winds armsful of motion heap
  In wincing gusts upon it--amber blush;
 The beech an inner beryle breaks from deep
  Encrusting topaz of a sullen flush.

 Dead gold, dead bronze, dull amethystine rose,
  Rose cameo, in day's gray, somber spar
 Of smoky quartz--intaglioed beauty--glows
  Luxuriance of color. Trunks that are
 Vast organs antheming the winds' wild woes
  A faded sun and pale night's paler star.

 Bulged from its cup the dark-brown acorn falls,
  And by its gnarly saucer in the streams
 Swells plumped; and here the spikey spruce-gum balls
  Rust maces of an ouphen host that dreams;
 Beneath the chestnut the split burry hulls
  Disgorge fat purses of sleek satin gleams.

 Burst silver white, nods an exploded husk
  Of snowy, woolly smoke the milk-weed's puff
 Along the orchard's fence, where in the dusk
  And ashen weeds,--as some grim Satyr's rough
 Red, breezy cheeks burn thro' his beard,--the brusque
  Crab apples laugh, wind-tumbled from above.

 Runs thro' the wasted leaves the crickets' click,
  Which saddest coignes of Melancholy cheers;
 One bird unto the sumach flits to pick
  Red, sour seeds; and thro' the woods one hears
 The drop of gummy walnuts; the railed rick
  Looms tawny in the field where low the steers.

 Some slim bud-bound Leimoniad hath flocked,
  The birds to Echo's shores, where flossy foams
 Boom low long cream-white cliffs.--Where once buzzed
  Unmillioned bees within unmillioned blooms,
 One hairy hummer cramps one bloom, frost mocked,--rocked
  A miser whose rich hives squeeze oozing combs.

 Twist some lithe maple and right suddenly
  A leafy storm of stars about you breaks--
 Some Hamadryad's tears: Unto her knee
  Wading the Naiad clears her brook that streaks
 Thro' wadded waifs: Hark! Pan for Helike
  Flutes melancholy by the minty creeks.