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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 struck my wakeful ear,
As o'er the hills and through the vales I wended,
Rejoicing in the glory of the year.
I paused to listen to that plaint of sadness;
It was the wailing of the Autumn-wind:
Quick fled my breast its airy 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 evening's colors of ethereal birth,
Were dull, compared with lowly shrub and tree,
Whose hues gushed forth, a fount of harmony.
I looked into the heavens, and they were deep,
Deep as the soul; unfathomed, save by God;
A lonely cloud the western gate did keep
As the tired sun Night's dusky threshold trod.
The Autumn sky, spotless and pure, is fraught
With melancholy: wild and wandering Thought
Pierces the vault; and Beauty does but veil
The shoreless sea, where Doubt and Wonder sail.
There can be gloom in palaces of splendor—
Sorrow may dwell the brightest smile beneath;
So Nature throws a gorgeous robe around her,
When chilled 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 valley 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 wingèd North he comes,
Strong, strong as Death! Your struggles vain!
As ghosts unblessed among deserted tombs,
With long, low-smothered groans, shall ye complain!
From the dusk 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 harshly creaking;
Their leaves and clinging 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 gone! Summer and Autumn too!
But shall I therefore sigh the winter through?
Bears he no chaplet on his frosty brow?
Unfading Ivy, thou dost surely know,
And faithful Evergreens, his temples bind;
Pluck them, and cast thy sorrows 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 hour to intertwine
Holy affections, and to look within
The soul; to strive to win from Time
A wreath that withers not by change of clime.