Autumn

By Alice Cary 1820–1871 Alice Cary
Shorter and shorter now the twilight clips
   The days, as though the sunset gates they crowd,
And Summer from her golden collar slips
   And strays through stubble-fields, and moans aloud,

Save when by fits the warmer air deceives,
   And, stealing hopeful to some sheltered bower,
She lies on pillows of the yellow leaves,
   And tries the old tunes over for an hour.

The wind, whose tender whisper in the May
   Set all the young blooms listening through th’ grove,
Sits rustling in the faded boughs to-day
   And makes his cold and unsuccessful love.

The rose has taken off her tire of red—
   The mullein-stalk its yellow stars have lost,
And the proud meadow-pink hangs down her head
   Against earth’s chilly bosom, witched with frost.

The robin, that was busy all the June,
   Before the sun had kissed the topmost bough,
Catching our hearts up in his golden tune,
   Has given place to the brown cricket now.

The very cock crows lonesomely at morn—
   Each flag and fern the shrinking stream divides—
Uneasy cattle low, and lambs forlorn
   Creep to their strawy sheds with nettled sides.

Shut up the door: who loves me must not look
   Upon the withered world, but haste to bring
His lighted candle, and his story-book,
   And live with me the poetry of Spring.

Source: American Poetry: The Nineteenth Century (The Library of America, 1993)

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet Alice Cary 1820–1871

Subjects Nature, Fall

 Alice  Cary

Biography

The sisters Alice and Phoebe Cary grew up on a farm near Cincinnati, Ohio. There they immersed themselves in the classics of literature under the tutelage of an older sister whose death in 1833 affected them deeply. Although both published poems while still teenagers, it wasn’t until 1850, after their work had been noticed by such luminaries as Edgar Allan Poe and John Greenleaf Whittier, that a book—Poems of Alice and Phoebe . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Nature, Fall

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.