Ella Wheeler Wilcox

(5 November 1850 - 30 October 1919 / Johnstown Center / Rock County / Wisconsin)

Fading


All in the beautiful Autumn weather
One thought lingers with me and stays;
Death and winter are coming together,
Though both are veiled by the amber haze
I look on the forest of royal splendour!
I look on the face in my quiet room;
A face all beautiful, sad and tender,
And both are stamped with the seal of doom.

All through the days of Indian summer,
Minute by minute and hour by hour,
I feel the approach of a dreaded Comer –
A ghastly presence of awful power.
I hear the birds in the early morning,
As they fly from the fields that are turning brown,
And at noon and at night my heart takes warning,
For the maple leaves fall down and down.

The sumac bushes are all a-flaming!
The world is scarlet, and gold, and green,
And my darling’s beautiful cheeks are shaming
The painted bloom of the ball-room queen.
Why talk of winter, amid such glory?
Why speak of death of a thing so fair?
Oh, but the forest king white and hoary
Is weaving a mantle for both to wear.

God! If I could by the soft deceiving
Of forests of splendour and cheeks of bloom
Lull my heart into sweet believing
Just for a moment and drown my gloom;
If I could forget for a second only
And rest from the pain of this awful dread
Of the days that are coming long and lonely
When the Autumn goes and she is dead.

But all the while the sun gilds wood and meadow
And the fair cheeks, hectic glows and cheats,
I know grim death sits veiled in shadow
Weaving for both their winding sheets.
I cannot help, and I cannot save her.
My hands are as weak as a babe’s new-born;
I must yield her up to One who gave her
And wait for the resurrection morn.

Submitted: Monday, May 19, 2003

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