Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE LAST OF AUTUMN, by EDMUND CHARLES BLUNDEN

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THE LAST OF AUTUMN, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: From cloudy shapes of trees that cluster the hills
Last Line: And cash upon his garden palisades.
Alternate Author Name(s): Blunden, Edmund
Subject(s): Autumn; England; Landscape; Seasons; Fall; English

FROM cloudy shapes of trees that cluster the hills
The calm blue morning into brightness climbs;
And joy unhoped-for holds us hushed, and grace
Lures love again to coigns whence the long vales
Lie beautiful; that to my watch-tower come
I haunt an hour, I warm to radiance too,
By oaks that seem to kindle with the dawn.
But near his noon the sun sheds dizzy light,
And burning boughs burn with the dawn of death.

Shorn empty fields! where yet the eye discerns
A harvest home; look how the expanses point
To what the crowded season scorned, to stubs
That hold afield their outlaw solitude,
The mandrakes of the farms; see grouping sheep
Dapple the broad pale green, nabbing or resting.
Haystacks and hurdles gleam for honour now
And troughs and hovels in the lonely spaces
Rejected once are headstones in each corner.

Now once again the heart that long had feasted
On revel of song and wing, then long had dimmed
Its airy pleasure, cannot let a bird
Chance by but counts him into memory's tribe.
For there the witty jay laughs; here on waves
Invisible ripples the linnet, gross rooks gabble,
Or pheasant in his gaudy coat clangs past.
These are the riches of our poverty,
And all is peopled, though so few are there.

When sometimes wells a springing music from
The belt of pines, then the glad moment cries
"The nightingale," nor that same little bird,
Who now in Abyssinia claps his wings,
Might grieve to own the clear recalling call.

Then, senses, quicken, for it is not long --
Though slowly flow the gentle shadows over.

Ivy with wasp and hornet buzzes still,
Blue glittering flies are sunning on the stones,
And the hives among the nettles' chalky flowers
Are toiling; welcome, wayside thistles' crown,
And rare-grown daisy in the meadow, shine,
Though your pale cheeks have lost their lovely red.

But the wind that frets the old and clinging leaves
Arises deep, the very dirge and knell
Of this doomed dream;
And sets the weazel, where she hangs and dries
To skin and bone, still with her whiskered snarl,
A-swaying on the barren sloe-tree's thorn.

For slow and sure comes change, and in the mass
Of time how swift! Look down the glade and know
The timber felled, the vast too-cumbrous branch
Fallen, by the pillar of white that lightning left.
The village grandsires knew another glade.
This day so seeming-still, so patient-paced
Will drop down precipice darkness to its grave,
The whirlpooled past, the legion roar of night
Rend the tired world and leave it to its winter:
Whose turbulent angers and fierce siege shall die
When newness comes to the birth.
But who may tell
When spring shall be again? and if these eyes
Should then be shut to the brightness of her coming?
So for her phantom violets I'll not lose
These rich, these poor, these fading glowing lulls
Nor drown my joy in boding. Better it were
To be dull Thrift, than squander thus this day:
Dull Thrift, who now has sown his mite of land,
Has thrashed his corn and beans, and where the dew's
Quicksilver bubbles lodge and shine all day
In the cabbage leaves, and the last lady-bird
Wafts her bright rosy way, leans pencilling coombs
And cash upon his garden palisades.

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