Autumn Woods

William Cullen Bryant

     Ere, in the northern gale,
The summer tresses of the trees are gone,
The woods of Autumn, all around our vale,
     Have put their glory on.

     The mountains that infold,
In their wide sweep, the coloured landscape round,
Seem groups of giant kings, in purple and gold,
     That guard the enchanted ground.

     I roam the woods that crown
The upland, where the mingled splendours glow,
Where the gay company of trees look down
     On the green fields below.

     My steps are not alone
In these bright walks; the sweet south-west, at play,
Flies, rustling, where the painted leaves are strown
     Along the winding way.

     And far in heaven, the while,
The sun, that sends that gale to wander here,
Pours out on the fair earth his quiet smile,--
     The sweetest of the year.

     Where now the solemn shade,
Verdure and gloom where many branches meet;
So grateful, when the noon of summer made
     The valleys sick with heat?

     Let in through all the trees
Come the strange rays; the forest depths are bright?
Their sunny-coloured foliage, in the breeze,
     Twinkles, like beams of light.

     The rivulet, late unseen,
Where bickering through the shrubs its waters run,
Shines with the image of its golden screen,
     And glimmerings of the sun.

     But 'neath yon crimson tree,
Lover to listening maid might breathe his flame,
Nor mark, within its roseate canopy,
     Her blush of maiden shame.

     Oh, Autumn! why so soon
Depart the hues that make thy forests glad;
Thy gentle wind and thy fair sunny noon,
     And leave thee wild and sad!

     Ah! 'twere a lot too blessed
For ever in thy coloured shades to stray;
Amid the kisses of the soft south-west
     To rove and dream for aye;

     And leave the vain low strife
That makes men mad--the tug for wealth and power,
The passions and the cares that wither life,
     And waste its little hour.


This is another of William Cullen Bryant's poems which while evoking nature in general, were inspired by the hills, woods and streams of his native Cummington, Massachussetts.

Bryant's home and its environs are now preserved as the William Cullen Bryant Homestead in Cummington Massachussetts.