Verse > Anthologies > Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. > A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895
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Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908).  A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895.  1895.
 
Love’s Autumn
 
John Payne (b. 1842)
 
 
YES, love, the Spring shall come again,
  But not as once it came:
Once more in meadow and in lane
  The daffodils shall flame,
The cowslips blow, but all in vain;        5
  Alike, yet not the same.
 
The roses that we pluck’d of old
  Were dew’d with heart’s delight;
Our gladness steep’d the primrose-gold
  In half its lovely light:        10
The hopes are long since dead and cold
  That flush’d the wind-flowers’ white.
 
Oh, who shall give us back our Spring?
  What spell can fill the air
With all the birds of painted wing        15
  That sang for us whilere?
What charm reclothe with blossoming
  Our lives, grown blank and bare?
 
What sun can draw the ruddy bloom
  Back to hope’s faded rose?        20
What stir of summer re-illume
  Our hearts’ wreck’d garden-close?
What flowers can fill the empty room
  Where now the nightshade grows?
 
’T is but the Autumn’s chilly sun        25
  That mocks the glow of May;
’T is but the pallid bindweeds run
  Across our garden way,
Pale orchids, scentless every one,
  Ghosts of the summer day.        30
 
Yet, if it must be so, ’t is well:
  What part have we in June?
Our hearts have all forgot the spell
  That held the summer noon;
We echo back the cuckoo’s knell,        35
  And not the linnet’s tune.
 
What shall we do with roses now,
  Whose cheeks no more are red?
What violets should deck our brow,
  Whose hopes long since are fled?        40
Recalling many a wasted vow
  And many a faith struck dead.
 
Bring heath and pimpernel and rue,
  The Autumn’s sober flowers:
At least their scent will not renew        45
  The thought of happy hours,
Nor drag sad memory back unto
  That lost sweet time of ours.
 
Faith is no sun of summertide,
  Only the pale, calm light        50
That, when the Autumn clouds divide,
  Hangs in the watchet height,—
A lamp, wherewith we may abide
  The coming of the night.
 
And yet, beneath its languid ray,        55
  The moorlands bare and dry
Bethink them of the summer day
  And flower, far and nigh,
With fragile memories of the May,
  Blue as the August sky.        60
 
These are our flowers: they have no scent
  To mock our waste desire,
No hint of bygone ravishment
  To stir the faded fire:
The very soul of sad content        65
  Dwells in each azure spire.
 
I have no violets: you laid
  Your blight upon them all:
It was your hand, alas! that made
  My roses fade and fall,        70
Your breath my lilies that forbade
  To come at Summer’s call.
 
Yet take these scentless flowers and pale,
  The last of all my year:
Be tender to them; they are frail:        75
  But if thou hold them dear,
I ’ll not their brighter kin bewail,
  That now lie cold and sere.
 

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