Janet Hamilton

1795-1873 / Scotland

October, 1863

Month of storm, beat shocks and sheaves,
Withered flowers, and falling leaves,
Sullen clouds that darkly loom
Like the shadows of the tomb;
Looks the sun through murky haze
With a weird and watery gaze,
Lighting up the fields and streams,
Vanishing like lightning gleams.
Brooks that sung through mead and dingle
With a silvery tinkle tingle,
Foaming, turbid, rush along
With a rudely brawling song.
Robin of the noiseless wing
And ruddy vest, begins to sing
His wintry lay, and, flitting by,
Scans me with his bold, bright eye.
Sore, October, thou hast grieved me,
Ah! thine advent hath deceived me,
For thou cam'st with thunder crashing,
Deadly lightnings round thee flashing,
Furious gales, and drenching rains,
Sweeping o'er the ravished plains.
I would welcome thee, October,
Gracious, mild, serene, and sober;
With thy fields of russet hue,
With thy skies of hazy blue,
With thy sun, whose chastened glory
Tells brown Autumn's latest story.
Month of all the circling year,
To my soul's best feelings dear,
Sweet the balm thou oft hast poured
When my heart had quailed and cowered,
And shrunk into its inner cell
To bleed unseen. I may not tell
The bitter woes, the chilling fears,
The grief that lies 'too deep for tears,'
The venomed sting, whose burning smart
Thrills o'er the life-strings of my heart.
O then how sweet the soft solace,
To gaze upon thy saintly face,
So dreamy, tender, meek, and calm;
My spirit drank the soothing balm,
The sense of stillness and repose
That round thee like a halo flows.
Dear to you above all others,
You, my toiling, care-worn brothers,
Is the needed, blessed boon
Of your weekly afternoon,
When, with grateful heart and eyes,
'Neath our 'Indian summer' skies,
Our own October, forth ye go
Picking berry, nùt, and sloe.
While the woodlands dim and sere,
Their treasure shed to form the bier-
The death-bed of the waning year-
Think of your own so very near:
So learn, so live, that each October
Finds you more wise, more chaste, more sober.
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