Frances Anne Kemble
Close Of Our Summer At Frascati - Poem by Frances Anne Kemble
The end is come: in thunder and wild rain
Autumn has stormed the golden house of Summer.
She going—lingers yet—sweet glances throwing
Of kind farewell upon the land she loves
And leaves. No more the sunny landscape glows
In the intense, uninterrupted light
And splendour of transparent, cloudless skies;
No more the yellow plain its tawny hue
Of sunburnt ripeness wears; even at noon
Thick watery veils fall on the mountain ranges,
And the white sun-rays, with pale slanting brushes,
Paint rainbows on the leaden-coloured storms.
Through milky, opal clouds the lightning plays,
Visible presence of that hidden power—
Mysterious soul of the great universe,
Whose secret force runs in red, human veins,
And in the glaring, white veins of the tempest,
Uplifts the hollow earth, the shifting sea;
Makes stormy reformations in the sky,
Sweeping, with searching besoms of sharp winds,
The foul and stagnant chambers of the air,
Where the thick, heavy, summer vapours slumber;
And, working in the sap of all still-growth,
In moonlight nights, unfolding leaves and blossoms;
Of all created life the vital element
Appearing still in fire—whether in the sea,
When its blue waves turn up great swaths of stars;
Or in the glittering, sparkling, winter ice world;
Or in the flickering white and crimson flames,
That leap in the northern sky; or in the sparks
Of love or hate, that flash in human eyes.
Lo, now, from day to day, and hour to hour,
Broad verdant shadows grow upon the land,
Cooling the burning landscape; while the clouds,
Disputing with the sun his heaven-dominion,
Chequer the hill-sides with fantastic shadows.
The glorious unity of light is gone,
The triumph of those bright and boundless skies;
Where, through all visible space, the eye met nothing
Save infinite brightness—glory infinite.
No more at evening does the sun dissolve
Into a heaving sea of molten gold;
While over it a heaven of molten gold
Panted, with light and heat intensely glowing,
While to the middle height of the pure ether,
One deepening sapphire from the amber spreads.
Now trains of melancholy, gorgeous clouds,
Like mourners at an Emperor's funeral,
Gather round the down-going of the sun;
Dark splendid curtains, with great golden fringes,
Shut up the day; masses of crimson glory,
Pale lakes of blue, studded with fiery islands,
Bright golden bars, cold peaks of slaty rock,
Mountains of fused amethyst and copper,
Fierce flaming eyes, with black o'erhanging brows,
Light floating curls of brown and golden hair,
And rosy flushes, like warm dreams of love,
Make rich and wonderful the dying day,
That, like a wounded dolphin, on the shore
Of night's black waves, dies in a thousand glories.
These are the very clouds that now put out
The serene beauty of the summer heavens.
The autumn sun hath virtue yet, to make
Right royal hangings for his sky-tent of them;
But, as the days wear on, and he grows faint,
And pale, and colourless, these are the clouds
That, like cold shrouds, shall muffle up the year,
Shut out the lovely blue, and draw round all—
Plain, hill, and sky—one still, chill wintry gray.
The end is come; the golden links are parting,
That in one chain of happy circumstance,
And gentle, friendly, human fellowship,
Bound many hearts for many a day together.
The precious bond dissolves; one friend departs
With the departing summer, and the end,
Ominous of the loss of all, begins:
Here it begins; with these first feet, that turn
From walking in the paths of daily life,
Where hand in hand, with peace and joy, all walked.
And now, from day to day, and hour to hour,
The brightness of our summer-life grows dim;
The voice that speaks to us from far already,
Soon in the distance shall be heard no more.
The perfect circle of this pleasant life
Hath lost its form—type of eternity—
And lies upon the earth a broken ring,
Token and type of every earthly thing.
Our sun of pleasure hastens towards the west,
But the green freshness of fair memories
Lives over these bright days for evermore;
The chequered lights, the storms of circumstance,
Shall sweep between us and their happy hours,
But not to efface them. O thou wealthy Past,
Thine are our treasures!—thine and ours alone
Through thee: the Present doth in fear rejoice;
The Future, but in fantasy: but thou
Holdest secure for ever and for ever
The bliss that has been ours; nor present woe,
Nor future dread, can touch that heritage
Of joy gone by—the only joy we own.
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