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(January 12, 1829 – September 20, 1879 / Canada)

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Autumn Winds

“Oh! Autumn winds, what means this plaintive wailing
Around the quiet homestead where we dwell?
Whence come ye, say, and what the story mournful
That your weird voices ever seek to tell—
Whispering or clamoring, beneath the casements,
Rising in shriek or dying off in moan,
But ever breathing, menace, fear, or anguish
In every thrilling and unearthly tone?”

“We come from far off and from storm-tossed oceans,
Where vessels bravely battle with fierce gale,—
Mere playthings of our stormy, restless power,
We rend them quickly, shuddering mast and sail;
And with their, stalwart, gallant crews we hurl them
Amid the hungry waves that for them wait,
Nor leave one floating spar nor fragile taffrail
To tell unto the world their dreary fate.”

“But He who holds you, wrathful winds of Autumn,
Within the hollow of His mighty hand,
Can stay your onward course of reckless fury,
Your demon wrath, or eerie sport command,
Changing your rudest blast to zephyr gentle
As rocks the rose in summer evenings still,
Calming the ocean and yourselves enchaining
By simple fiat of Almighty Will.”

“We’ve been, too in the close and crowded city
Where want is often forced to herd with sin;
And our cold breath has pierced through without pity,
Bare, ruined hovel and worn garments thin;
Through narrow chink and broken window pouring
Draughts rife with fever and with deadly chill,
Choosing our victims ’mid old age and childhood,
Or tender, fragile infancy at will.”

“Oh, Autumn blasts, He, whose kind care doth temper
The searching wind unto the small shorn lamb,
To those poor shiv’ring victims, too, can render
Thy keenest, sharpest blasts, both mild and calm
Rave on—rave on, around our happy homestead
Upon this dark and wild November night,
Ye do but work out your God-given mission,
Mere humble creatures of our Father’s might.”

“But, listen, we come, too, from graveyards lonely,
From mocking revels held ’mid tombstones tall,
Tearing the withered leaves from off the branches,
The clinging ivy from the time-stained wall,—
Uprooting, blighting every tiny leaflet
That hid the grave’s bleak nakedness from sight,
Driving the leaves in hideous, death like dances,
Around the lowly mounds, the grave-stones white.”

“And, what of that, ye cruel winds of Autumn?
Spring will return again with hope and mirth,
Clothing with tender green the budding branches,
Decking with snowdrops, violets, the earth;
And, oh! sweet hope, sublime and most consoling,
The sacred dust within those graves shall rise
In God’s good time, to reign on thrones of glory
With Him, beyond the cloudless, golden skies.”

Submitted: Tuesday, April 20, 2010


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