It's undoubtedly time for some Autumn poetry. There's Keats, of course, and Shelley and Blake. There's Rossetti and Browning and Stevenson and Frost. Almost everyone who's put poem to paper has written about this stirring season. One of the lesser known offerings comes from eighteenth-century Scottish minister and editor, John Logan. His ecstatic poem (the full version contains no fewer than 26 exclamation marks), "A visit to the country in Autumn" contains some of the cliches of Autumn, but has I think some fine and lovely phrases, and deserves a place at Autumn's altar. These are five of its nine stanzas.
'Tis passed! No more the summer blooms!
Ascending in the rear,
Behold congenial Autumn comes,
The sabbath of the year!
What time thy holy whispers breathe,
The pensive evening shade beneath,
And twilight consecrates the floods;
While Nature strips her garment gay,
And wears the vesture of decay,
O, let me wander through the sounding woods.
Ah! well known streams! Ah! wonted groves,
Still pictured in my mind!
Oh! Sacred scene of youthful loves,
Whose image lives behind!
While sad I ponder on the past,
The joys that must no longer last;
The wild flower strown on Summer’s bier,
The dying music of the grove,
And the last elegies of love,
Dissolve the soul and draw the tender tear!
Alas! misfortune's cloud unkind
May summer soon o’ercast;
And cruel fate's untimely wind
All human beauty blast!
The wrath of Nature smites our bowers,
And promised fruits, and cherish'd flowers,
The hopes of life in embryo sweeps;
Pale o’er the ruins of his prime,
And desolate before his time,
In silence sad the mourner walks and weeps!
Relentless power! whose fated stroke
O’er wretched man prevails!
Ha! love's eternal chain is broke,
And friendship's covenant fails!
Upbraiding forms! a moment's ease
O memory! how shall I appease
The bleeding shade, the unlaid ghost?
What charm can bind the gushing eye?
What voice console the incessant sigh,
And everlasting longings for the lost?
Yet not unwelcome waves the wood
That hides me in its gloom,
While lost in melancholy mood
I muse upon the tomb.
Their chequered leaves the branches shed,
Whirling in eddies o’er my head,
They sadly sigh, that Winter’s near:
The warning voice I hear behind,
That shakes the wood without a wind,
And solemn sounds the death-bell of the year.