A Dream of Autumn

James Whitcomb Riley

  Mellow hazes, lowly trailing
  Over wood and meadow, veiling
  Somber skies, with wildfowl sailing
    Sailor-like to foreign lands;
  And the north-wind overleaping
  Summer's brink, and floodlike sweeping
  Wrecks of roses where the weeping
    Willows wring their helpless hands.

  Flared, like Titan torches flinging
    Flakes of flame and embers, springing
  From the vale the trees stand swinging
    In the moaning atmosphere;
  While in dead'ning-lands the lowing
  Of the cattle, sadder growing,
  Fills the sense to overflowing
    With the sorrow of the year.

  Sorrowfully, yet the sweeter
  Sings the brook in rippled meter
  Under boughs that lithely teeter
    Lorn birds, answering from the shores
  Through the viny, shady-shiny
  Interspaces, shot with tiny
  Flying motes that fleck the winy
    Wave-engraven sycamores.

  Fields of ragged stubble, wrangled
  With rank weeds, and shocks of tangled
  Corn, with crests like rent plumes dangled
    Over Harvest's battle-piain;
  And the sudden whir and whistle
  Of the quail that, like a missile,
  Whizzes over thorn and thistle,
    And, a missile, drops again.

  Muffled voices, hid in thickets
  Where the redbird stops to stick its
  Ruddy beak betwixt the pickets
    Of the truant's rustic trap;
  And the sound of laughter ringing
  Where, within the wild-vine swinging,
  Climb Bacchante's schoolmates, flinging
    Purple clusters in her lap.

  Rich as wine, the sunset flashes
  Round the tilted world, and dashes
  Up the sloping west and splashes
    Red foam over sky and sea--
  Till my dream of Autumn, paling
  In the splendor all-prevailing,
  Like a sallow leaf goes sailing
    Down the silence solemnly.

This is another of James Whitcomb Riley's poems which evoke his native Indiana landscape. The Hoosier poet's work is inextricably linked with the countryside, people and culture of Indiana.

Main Location:

Indiana, USA