'Tis Indian Summer's richest, latest day;
The skies are bending down, serenly blue;
And, to the south wind's sigh, the branches sway
With answering music as they lightly strew
Upon the ground beneath, the gorgeous leaves
Of russet-green and ruby-red and gold,
So bright, my heart, sad as the south wind, grieves
To see their glories sinking in the mould!
And every gay and gladsome thing seems taking
A lingering leave of grove and field and sky;
Birds, all the glens and forest aisles forsaking,
In croft and orchard sweet lament are making
For roses dead and loveless winter nigh.
The bees are hovering o'er the lonely flowers,
The gift of mild September's sunny hours--
Pale asters that have lived through frosty eves,
And still in languid beauty tint their leaves
Amid the mountain fern, that yet retains
Its fragrant breath through all the autumnal rains,
And meek immortelles that, till snows appear,
Will mourn the buried splendors of the year;
While squirrels haste with nuts and acorns brown
That every waft above the wood brings down;
And, on the wing, a golden butterfly,
The last, the loveliest, is flitting by.
So calm! so fair! yet well I know at morn
Wild winds will blow till all the groves are shorn,
And soft mists vanish and the mountains rise
Cold and severe in melancholy skies.
Now fades the sun from hill and stream and dell--
O mellow Indian Summer! fare thee well!
Edna Dean Proctor (1827-1923)
from Poems, 1866
[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]
Edna Dean Proctor biography