Verse > Anthologies > Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. > An American Anthology, 1787–1900
Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908).  An American Anthology, 1787–1900.  1900.
98. My Autumn Walk
By William Cullen Bryant
ON woodlands ruddy with autumn
  The amber sunshine lies;
I look on the beauty round me,
  And tears come into my eyes.
For the wind that sweeps the meadows        5
  Blows out of the far Southwest,
Where our gallant men are fighting,
  And the gallant dead are at rest.
The golden-rod is leaning,
  And the purple aster waves,        10
In a breeze from the land of battles,
  A breath from the land of graves.
Full fast the leaves are dropping
  Before that wandering breath;
As fast, on the field of battle,        15
  Our brethren fall in death.
Beautiful over my pathway
  The forest spoils are shed;
They are spotting the grassy hillocks
  With purple and gold and red.        20
Beautiful is the death-sleep
  Of those who bravely fight
In their country’s holy quarrel,
  And perish for the Right.
But who shall comfort the living,        25
  The light of whose homes is gone:
The bride that, early widowed,
  Lives broken-hearted on;
The matron whose sons are lying
  In graves on a distant shore;        30
The maiden, whose promised husband
  Comes back from the war no more?
I look on the peaceful dwellings
  Whose windows glimmer in sight,
With croft and garden and orchard,        35
  That bask in the mellow light;
And I know that, when our couriers
  With news of victory come,
They will bring a bitter message
  Of hopeless grief to some.        40
Again I turn to the woodlands,
  And shudder as I see
The mock-grape’s blood-red banner
  Hung out on the cedar-tree;
And I think of days of slaughter,        45
  And the night-sky red with flames,
On the Chattahoochee’s meadows,
  And the wasted banks of the James.
Oh, for the fresh spring-season,
  When the groves are in their prime,        50
And far away in the future
  Is the frosty autumn-time!
Oh, for that better season,
  When the pride of the foe shall yield,
And the hosts of God and Freedom        55
  March back from the well-won field;
And the matron shall clasp her first-born
  With tears of joy and pride;
And the scarred and war-worn lover
  Shall claim his promised bride!        60
The leaves are swept from the branches;
  But the living buds are there,
With folded flower and foliage,
  To sprout in a kinder air.
ROSLYN, October, 1864.


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