Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. V. Nature
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Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume V. Nature.  1904.
 
III. The Seasons
Life in the Autumn Woods
Philip Pendleton Cooke (1816–1850)
 
[Virginia]

      SUMMER has gone,
And fruitful Autumn has advanced so far
That there is warmth, not heat, in the broad sun,
And you may look, with naked eye, upon
      The ardors of his car;        5
The stealthy frosts, whom his spent looks embolden,
      Are making the green leaves golden.
 
      What a brave splendor
Is in the October air! how rich, and clear,
And bracing, and all-joyous! We must render        10
Love to the Spring-time, with its sproutings tender,
      As to a child quite dear;
But Autumn is a thing of perfect glory,
      A manhood not yet hoary.
 
      I love the woods,        15
In this good season of the liberal year;
I love to seek their leafy solitudes,
And give myself to melancholy moods,
      With no intruder near,
And find strange lessons, as I sit and ponder,        20
      In every natural wonder.
 
      But not alone,
As Shakespeare’s melancholy courtier loved Ardennes,
Love I the browning forest; and I own
I would not oft have mused, as he, but flown        25
      To hunt with Amiens—
And little thought, as up the bold deer bounded,
      Of the sad creature wounded.
 
      A brave and good,
But world-worn knight—soul-wearied with his part        30
In this vexed life—gave man for solitude,
And built a lodge, and lived in Wantley wood,
      To hear the belling hart.
It was a gentle taste, but its sweet sadness
      Yields to the hunter’s madness.        35
 
      What passionate
And keen delight is in the proud swift chase!
Go out what time the lark at heaven’s red gate
Soars joyously singing—quite infuriate
      With the high pride of his place;        40
What time the unrisen sun arrays the morning
      In its first bright adorning.
 
      Hark! the quick horn—
As sweet to hear as any clarion—
Piercing with silver call the ear of morn;        45
And mark the steeds, stout Curtal and Topthorne,
      And Greysteil and the Don—
Each one of them his fiery mood displaying
      With pawing and with neighing.
 
      Urge your swift horse        50
After the crying hounds in this fresh hour;
Vanquish high hills, stem perilous streams perforce,
On the free plain give free wings to your course,
      And you will know the power
Of the brave chase,—and how of griefs the sorest        55
      A cure is in the forest.
 
      Or stalk the deer;
The same red lip of dawn has kissed the hills,
The gladdest sounds are crowding on your ear,
There is a life in all the atmosphere:—        60
      Your very nature fills
With the fresh hour, as up the hills aspiring
      You climb with limbs untiring.
 
      It is a fair
And goodly sight to see the antlered stag        65
With the long sweep of his swift walk repair
To join his brothers; or the plethoric bear
      Lying in some high crag,
With pinky eyes half closed, but broad head shaking,
      As gadflies keep him waking.        70
 
      And these you see,
And, seeing them, you travel to their death
With a slow, stealthy step, from tree to tree,
Noting the wind, however faint it be.
      The hunter draws a breath        75
In times like these, which, he will say, repays him
      For all care that waylays him.
 
      A strong joy fills
(A joy beyond the tongue’s expressive power)
My heart in Autumn weather—fills and thrills!        80
And I would rather stalk the breezy hills
      Descending to my bower
Nightly, by the sweet spirit of Peace attended,
      Than pine where life is splendid.
 
 
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