Autumn [poem by C. J. Dennis]

[Editor: This poem by C. J. Dennis was published in The Singing Garden (1935).]

Autumn

Now comes the time when quiet showers soothe
The wounds of Summer’s too intense embrace,
And gentle hands reach down softly to smooth
The wrinkles from the garden’s sun-seared face;
Quick little breezes race
Down thro’ the forest; swell, and die again,
And saplings toss like merry boys at play,
And tall, time-roughened trees, like grave old men,
Forgetting that the years have made them grey,
Laugh with the laughing day.

The adolescent gaiety of Spring
Long since has gone; the nestling birds have flown
Upon their own affairs on practised wing,
Soon to devise housekeeping of their own;
The garden’s guise has grown
Sedate, yet, waxing in maturity,
Waxes in loveliness. No longer frail,
Brighter and sturdier blossoms tempt the bee
For yet a space, before they droop and fail
’Neath Winter’s bitter flail.

Then flit about this fragrant countryside
Exotic elves who ride the scented breeze:
Exiled but merry artists, ranging wide
This land, to deck their lovely English trees
In Autumn’s harmonies.
Her mellow mood has laughed out Summer’s pride;
And her gay henchmen, not to be denied,
Yet riot as they please.

Past wattles dreaming of Spring’s coming song,
About the land these gay elves peer and peek;
Past blackwood, Christmas-bush and kurrajong,
Past grave old gums that mark the dwindling creek,
For canvases they seek.
And in this clearing, sown these summers long
With ash and sumach, birch and poplar strong,
They make one merry week.

Now in my garden, as each morning comes,
In waxing beauty is the picture spread:
Before green backgrounds of the sober gums
Dawn purple, russet-brown and gold and red;
The tenderer green has fled.
And while grim Winter rolls advancing drums,
In splendid motley, as each leaf succumbs,
Cool earth is carpeted.

Red glows the sumach by the poplar’s gold;
Translucent amber, burning bright and clear,
Like hope aflame, and tints a thousandfold
Marching in glorious pageantry appear.
High festival is here
That laughs at death — a wonder to behold . . .
“Now,” sigh the trees, “we sleep; for we are cold.
Call us when Spring is near.”



Source:
C. J. Dennis, The Singing Garden, Sydney: Angus & Robertson, 1935, pages 105-107

Editor’s notes:
gay = happy, joyous, carefree (may also mean well-decorated, bright, attractive) (in modern times it may especially refer to a homosexual, especially a male homosexual; may also refer to something which is no good, pathetic, useless)

’neath = beneath

russet = a reddish brown colour (or light brown, yellowish brown); a coarse reddish brown cloth, especially used for making clothes (may also mean: rustic; homely)

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