The Earthly Paradise, by William Morris

September.

O COME at last, to whom the spring-tide’s hope
Looked for through blossoms, what hast thou for me?
Green grows the grass upon the dewy slope
Beneath thy gold-hung, grey-leaved apple-tree
Moveless, e’en as the autumn fain would be
That shades its sad eyes from the rising sun
And weeps at eve because the day is done.

What vision wilt thou give me, autumn morn,
To make thy pensive sweetness more complete?
What tale, ne’er to be told, of folk unborn?
What images of grey-clad damsels sweet
Shall cross thy sward with dainty noiseless feet?
What nameless shamefast longings made alive
Soft-eyed September will thy sad heart give?

Look long, O longing eyes, and look in vain!
Strain idly, aching heart, and yet be wise,
And hope no more for things to come again
That thou beheldest once with careless eyes!
Like a new-wakened man thou art, who tries
To dream again the dream that made him glad
When in his arms his loving love he had.

MID young September’s fruit-trees next they met,
With calm hearts, willing such things to forget
As men had best forget; and certainly
E’en such a day it was when this might be
If e’er it might be; fair, without a cloud,
Yet windless, so that a grey haze did shroud
The bright blue; neither burning overmuch,
Nor chill, the blood of those old folk to touch
With fretful, restless memory of despair.
Withal no promise of the fruitful year
Seemed unfulfilled in that fair autumn-tide;
The level ground along the river-side
Was merry through the day with sounds of those
Who gathered apples; o’er the stream arose
The northward-looking slopes where the swine ranged
Over the fields that hook and scythe had changed
Since the last month; but ’twixt the tree-boles grey
Above them did they see the terraced way,
And over that the vine-stocks, row on row,
Whose dusty leaves, well thinned and yellowing now,
But little hid the bright-bloomed vine-bunches.

There day-long ’neath the shadows of the trees
Those elders sat; chary of speech they were,
For good it seemed to watch the young folk there,
Not so much busied with their harvesting,
But o’er their baskets they might stop to sing;
Nor for the end of labour all so fain
But eyes of men from eyes of maids might gain
Some look desired.

                    So at the midday those
Who played with labour in the deep green close
Stinted their gathering for a while to eat;
Then to the elders did it seem most meet
Amidst of these to set forth what they might
Of lore remembered, and to let the night
Bury its own dead thoughts with wine and sleep;
So while the loitering autumn sun did creep
O’er flower-crowned heads, and past sweet eyes of grey,
And eager lips, and fresh round limbs that lay
Amid the golden fruit — fruit sweet and fair
Themselves, that happy days and love did bear
And life unburdened — while the failing sun
Drew up the light clouds, was this tale begun,
Sad, but not sad enow to load the yoke,
E’en by a feather’s weight, of those old folk.
Sad, and believed but for its sweetness’ sake
By the young folk, desiring not to break
The spell that sorrow’s image cast on them,
As dreamlike she went past with fluttering hem.

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/m/morris/william/m87ea/chapter19.html

Last updated Thursday, March 6, 2014 at 22:07