It was the autumn of the year

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* * *

IT was the autumn of the year;
The time to labouring peasants, dear:
Week after week, from noon to noon,
September shone as bright as June;
Still, never hand a sickle held;
The crops were garnered in the field,
Trod out, and ground by horses' feet,
While every ear was milky sweet;
And kneaded on the threshing floor
With mire of tears and human gore.
Some said they thought that heaven's pure rain
Would hardly bless those fields again.
Not so—the all-benignant skies
Rebuked that fear of famished eyes—
July passed on with showers and dew
And August glowed in showerless blue;
No harvest time could be more fair
Had harvest fruits but ripened there.

* * *

Strange proofs I've seen how hearts could hide
Their secret with a life-long pride,
And then reveal it as they died.
Strange courage, and strange weakness too,
In that last hour when most are true,
And timid natures strangely nerved
To deeds from which the desperate swerved!
These I may tell, but, leave them now.
Go with me where my thoughts would go;
Now all today, and all last night
I've had one scene before my sight—

Wood-shadowed dales; a harvest moon
Unclouded in its glorious noon;
A solemn landscape, wide and still,
A red fire on a distant hill;
A line of fire, and deep below,
Another dusker, drearier glow;
Charred beams, and lime, and blackened stones
Self-piled in cairns o'er burning bones;
And lurid flames that licked the wood,
Then quenched their glare in pools of blood.

September 14, 1846.