by Hervey Allen

Hervey Allen

Crazy poets, cease to praise
Pettish April and her ways.
It will get you no more bays.
Why with borrowed madness sing
Of our lazy western spring?
Not, of course, that I would quarrel
Over subjects for the laurel —
You at least might take one moral,
In a draught of native waters,
Here's the time when reason totters;
Baptized " Autumn, " but we call —
Call her by her real name, " Fall, "
Fall the witch of Season's daughters.

" Witch, " I said, for she can take
Every shape a witch can make.
Summer finds her like a snake.
Shivers like a startled rose
When about her softly close
Frosty coils that intertwine
With a motion serpentine,
Coil on, coil on; fold in, fold in,
Till upon a meadow golden,
Summer like a flower lies
Underneath her butterflies
With a cobweb on her eyes.
All the leaves in magic fright
Shiver while the birds take flight —
Shiver; hide her from our sight.

Now the torchmen in the wake
Of the southward-flowing snake
Kindle Summer's funeral pyre
In the maples' leaping fire,
And the mountains' amethyst
To the very crest is kissed
By the flame that writhes and seethes
Where the scarlet sumac wreathes.
Hill and hillocks' chilly shoulders
Gather veils while Summer smolders.

But at last when mad October
Sits in ashes brown and sober,
Comes a day of arctic shouting
All the forest's motley flouting.
And the north wind rollicks past,
Stripping woodland spar and mast;
Driving hosts of lisping leaves
To the shelter of the sheaves,
Till the nut trees hear the noise
Of triumphant little boys.

Now the blood of murdered apples
Mantles in the mug and dapples,
And the hardened hearts of pears
Soften at November's prayers —
In the time and for the day
That November stoops to pray
In the versicles of May,
Luring out the last late hummer
With the lie of Indian Summer.

What! Shall lover's excess call
Horrid names at lovely Fall?
" Witch " and " serpent, " " liar " — never
Can the poet thus be clever;
Never thus with foolish lore
Lure a lamia to our shore.

Fall, you are an Indian maiden
With the sacred wampum braid on,
Coming through the forest laden
With the tasseled harvest store.
Therefore, Princess brown of hands,
Followed by your warrior bands,
Lady of the shocks and sheaves,
Fire amid the fainting leaves, —
Trip it south through Iroquois lands.
Come, and go, like Pocahontas
Leaving but a glow to haunt us
For a love the soul remembers
Dreaming by December's embers.

Last updated September 05, 2017