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Thomas Cole's poetry

the collected poems of America's foremost painter of the Hudson River School reflecting his feelings for nature and the romantic spirit of the Nineteenth Century

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The Summer Days are Ended

Summer is gone! The summer days are ended!
A voice mysterious sounded through my ear;
As o'er the hills and through the vales I wended
Rejoicing in the glory of the year.
I paused to listen to the plaint of sadness
It was the wailing of the Autumn wind;
Quick fled my breast its joy and gladness
And sorrow cloud-like brooded o'er my mind.
Wide spread the scene; beauty was still around
And more than beauty; for the glowing earth
In regal crimson and in gold was bound;
And every tree and lowly shrub gave birth
To tents that evening's sun-lit dome no dye
Ethereal shows, their richness could outvie.
I looked into the heavens and they were deep,
Deep as the soul—unfathomed but by God;
A lonely cloud the western gate did keep
As the tired sun night's dusky threshold trod.
The Autumn sky spotless pure is fraught
With melancholy—wild and wandering thought
Pierces the vault; beauty does but veil
The shoreless sea where Doubt and Wonder sail.
There can be gloom in palaces of splendour
Sorrow may dwell the brightest smile beneath
So nature throws a gorgeous robe around her
When chill'd by Winter's sudden grasp of death.
The daylight vanished from the mountain's head
The round moon shone upon the waving woods
And all was silent save the voice that said
With mournful cadence like far-falling floods
“Summer is gone! The Summer days are ended!”
Ere with slow feet my homeward path I wended.


A few short days had passed and forth once more
I ventured for the fresh and healthful air;
I trod the hills and vallies as before;
The vales were cheerless and the hills were bare.
The wintry blast
With ruffian hands had torn
The robe that Earth had worn
In fragments cast
It on the miry ground—the floods;
And ruthless shook the loud lamenting woods.
The floods were riotous and spread
Their greedy arms o'er grassy plains;
Tore from the husbandman his harvest grains
And foaming—tossing, swiftly sped
Down the terrific steep
And plunged in ocean's all-devouring deep.
Cease! cease proud Floods your laughter
Your sorrowing shall come after.
Stern Frost shall forge your chain
See now upon the winged North he comes!
Strong strong as Death! Your struggles vain
As ghosts unblest among deserted tombs
With long low smothered groans ye shall complain.
From the deep glen up starts the hoary cliff
Like a grim giant from his gloomy lair
'Waked by some fiendish scream
Heard in his horrid dream
Shakes from his brow the dark dishevelled hair
And stares around with icy horror stiff.
For round its granite head the winds are shrieking
The old oaks on its breast are loudly creaking;
Their leaves are shatter'd branches torn
Through air tempestuously borne—
From every dell and rock a voice is breaking—
“Summer is gone! The summer days are ended
And o'er the earth the cold dark months descended.”


Yes they are fled Summer and Autumn too!
But shall I grieve and sigh the Winter through?
Bears he no chaplet on his barren brow?
Unfading Ivy, thou dost surely know,
And faithful Evergreens his temples bind;
Pluck them and cast thy sadness to the wind!
Beside the hearth when winter winds are wild
Domestic peace and Love and Friendship mild,
Those Evergreens shall bloom; they flourish best
When by the storm heart nearer heart is prest.
Wait God's-own seasons; it would be a curse
Perennial Summer—Winter is the nurse
Of Virtue—'Tis the time to intertwine
Holy affections and to look within
The Soul—to strive and win from Time
A wreath that blights nor withers by the change of clime.
Thos. Cole 1840