The New Penelope/Polk County Hills

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November came that day,
And all the air was gray
With delicate mists, blown down
From hill-tops by the south wind's balmy breath;
And all the oaks were brown
As Egypt's kings in death;
The maple's crown of gold
Laid tarnished on the wold;
The alder and the ash, the aspen and the willow,
Wore tattered suits of yellow.

The soft October rains
Had left some scarlet stains
Of color on the landscape's neutral ground;
Those fine ephemeral things,
The winged motes of sound,
That sing the "Harvest Home"
Of ripe Autumn in the gloam
Of the deep and bosky woods, in the field and by the river,
Sang that day their best endeavor.

I said: "In what sweet place
Shall we meet face to face,
Her loveliest self to see—
Meet Nature at her sad autumnal rites,
And learn the mystery
Of her unnamed delights?"
Then you said: "Let us go
Where the late violets blow
In hollows of the hills, under dead oak leaves hiding;—
We'll find she's there abiding."

Do we recall that day?
Has its grace passed away?
Its tenderest, dream-like tone,
Like one of Turner's landscapes limned on air—
Has its fine perfume flown
And left the memory bare?
Not so; its charm is still
Over wood, vale and hill—
The ferny odor sweet, the humming insect chorus,
The spirit that before us

Enticed us with delights
To the blue, breezy hights.
O, beautiful hills that stand
Serene 'twixt earth and heaven, with the grace
Of both to make you grand,—
Your loveliness leaves place
For nothing fairer; fair
And complete beyond compare.
O, lovely purple hills, O, first day of November,
Be sure that I remember!