October

Across the stubble fields the lazy breezes pass,
From Autumn orchards sloping southward in the sun,
Where dropping from the low-hung branches, one by one,
The apples hide in tangles of the wind-blown grass.
A warm, sweet scent of mellow fruit fills all the air,
And faintly over hills and hollows comes the cry
Of some shrill bluejay, and his mate's far-off reply.
Like Ruth, the winds will go a-gleaning, by and by,
And garner in the leaves till all the woods are bare.

But now my boyhood's love has come again to me,
October -- in her royal red and gold arrayed!
She comes with glowing cheeks, my dusky Indian maid,
And all the world seems bright because so bright is she.
Unto her lips the wild grapes hold their spicy wine.
Persimmons, sweet and golden with the early frost,
Drop at her feet; and where the narrow creek has crossed
The woods, and in the ferns and flags its way has lost,
Blood-red the corals of the dog-wood berries shine.

And thus she comes, my Love I loved when I was young!
We wander far for a little while across the hills,
And, as of old, her sunny presence warms and fills
My heart.  But like a lute with one string left un-strung,
When I would sing again the song of other years,
Something is lost.  The harmony is incomplete.
And though the same old melody I still repeat,
One alto note of joy is gone that made it sweet,
And something trembles in the Autumn haze like tears.

By Annie Fellows Johnston


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Background and graphics by Mary Stephens
Smokey Mt. road photo by Justin Nation.
Used by permission.
Oct. 2015; CA; updated 2019