Palinode

James Russell Lowell
James Russell Lowell

Autumn

Still thirteen years: ‘t is autumn now
On field and hill, in heart and brain;
The naked trees at evening sough;
The leaf to the forsaken bough
Sighs not,—”Auf wiedersehen!”

Two watched yon oriole’s pendent dome,
That now is void, and dank with rain,
And one,—O, hope more frail than foam!
The bird to his deserted home
Sings not,—”Auf wiedersehen!”

The loath gate swings with rusty creak;
Once, parting there, we played at pain;
There came a parting, when the weak
And fading lips essayed to speak
Vainly,—”Auf wiedersehen!”

Somewhere is comfort, somewhere faith,
Though thou in outer dark remain;
One sweet sad voice ennobles death,
And still, for eighteen centuries saith
Softly,—”Auf wiedersehen!”

If earth another grave must bear,
Yet heaven hath won a sweeter strain,
And something whispers my despair,
That, from an orient chamber there,
Floats down,—”Auf wiedersehen!”

James Russell Lowell, 1819-1891

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