The Two Autumns

by George Arnold

George ArnoldAutumn

THE tall grass waves o'er lowly graves,
The golden sunshine floods the meadows,
And in the breeze, the willow-trees,
That guard the tomb of Eloise,
Wave to and fro, with flickering shadows.
And here I sit, while bright birds flit
Among the gravestones whitely gleaming,
And muse away the summer day
Beneath the vines' and willows' sway, —
On that fair maiden's memory dreaming.
O'er fields unmown the poppy shone,
The earliest rose had hardly perished,
When she confessed that in her breast
Young Love was throned, a royal guest,
My image there alone she cherished.
O happy hour, when from her bower,
With clambering grape-vines close entangled,
We saw the moon of leafy June
Rise calmly o'er the wide lagoon,
And climb the sky with bright stars spangled.
Her deep blue eyes, like tropic skies,
Not less profound, and never colder, -
Were fixed on mine with gaze divine,
And, golden as the German wine,
Her regal ringlets swept her shoulder.
Her little hand, which scarcely spanned
With timid clasp my first three fingers,
Her lip, her cheek, which bees might seek;
Her voice - but, ah! mere words are weak
To paint the joys where memory lingers!
The summer passed, and autumn's blast
Swept bleakly cold across the heather;
The bright leaves browned,'neath skies that
Then whirled in circles to the ground,
And strewed the paths we trod together.
0 heavy grief I with autumn's leaf
They told me that her days were numbered:
She passed away, - her mortal clay
In death's pale beauty silent lay,
As calm as if she only slumbered.
I sit among the graves o'erhung
With many a slender-threaded willow;
The churchyard mould seems now less cold
Since, deep beneath, those locks of gold
Have found a soft and dreamless pillow.
About the tombs the laurel blooms,
I hear the bees above it humming,
The zephyrs sigh, in floating by;
They bring the scent of ripened rye,
And tell another autumn coming.
Far down upon the horizon
A purple haze is softly falling,
The fading rose of summer goes,
And distant bells, at day's repose,
Unto my inner ear are calling.
Ah, dreamily they say to me
That those, who here are called to sever,
Are elsewhere blessed with peace and rest,
And I, unto this lonely breast
Shall clasp my Eloise forever.

Last updated September 17, 2022