Kate Seymour Maclean

The Battle Autumn Of 1862 - Poem by Kate Seymour Maclean

Under the orchard boughs,
That drop red leaves like coals into the grass.
The golden arrows of the sunset fall;
And on the vine-hung wall
Great purple clusters in delicious drowse,
Beakers of chrysolite and amethyst,
Yet by the sun unkissed,
Lean down to all the wooing lips that pass,
Brimful of red, red wine
Sweet as brown peasants glean along the castled Rhine

All sights and sounds are of the Autumn weather;
The urchin rock'ng in the trees
Shakes silver laughter with the apples down,-
And wading to the knees
Among the stubble and the husks so brown,
The oxen keeping every patient step together,
Bring in the creaking wain,
High-piled with yellow maize and sheaves of rustling grain.

While in the mill, with ceaseless whirr and drone,
With moss and lichens to the roof o'ergrown
An undertone to every other sound,
The blind old horse goes round

Gathered along the farm-house eaves
In noisy congress, see the swallows sit,
Or whirling in mid air like autumn leaves,
In airy wheels they flit.
Bright rovers of all summer skies,
I follow them with wistful eyes
To-morrow's sunset they will be
A thousand leagues by land and sea
Beyond this wintry hemisphere
Heaven gathers round their joyous wings
The sunlight of perpetual springs,
Soft airs and fragrant blossomings
Through all the glad round year.

I hear as though I did not hear,
Along the upland fields remote,
The plough-boy's whistle, silver clear:
For hark' the herds-man's graver note,
Who hums beneath the orchard boughs,
The ballad of that grand old man,
Who marshalled freedom's battle van,
And fell,-no laurel round his brows.

To-day the hero-martyr's grave
Is shaken by the armed tread
Of patriotic soldiers o'er his head
Not by the footsteps of one slave!

So grows the work that he began,
Wrought out in slow and toilsome ways,
Yet ever building through the days,
A grander heritage for man.

Oh! harvest years, foretold so long!
Through seas of blood, through years of wrong,
A people patient brave and strong,
In camp and field, and battle clang,
'Mid cannon's roar and trumpet's peal,
And shock of war, and clash of steel,
For you each steadfast blade out-sprang!
In you each loyal heart kept faith
As strong as life, as stern as death;
Though human lives like summer grain
Were sown on every battle-plain;
Blood of our bravest and our best,
The red, red wine of life was pressed,
And lost like summer rain.
In dust and smoke of carnage whirled,
Before those dying eyes still swam
Those coming years so grand and calm,
The golden Autumns of the world!

Through frost and snow and wintry rains,
Speed, silent hours!-the Nation waits,
While at her feet the slave in chains,
Kneels, listening for the coming fates;
And round him droops in soil and dust,
The bright flag of her stripes and stars:
Speed, Autumn hours!-we wait in trust
No tale of traitor lips can dim,
Till Liberty's white hand unbars
The broad gates of the glad New Year,
Unfurls our banner free and clear,
And ushers Peace and Freedom in!

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Poem Submitted: Monday, September 20, 2010

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