TREES IN AUTUMN By Alice M. Shepard

Chestnut Tree in Autumn
By Alice M. Shepard

When Summer's sun with fervent heat
Has ripened corn, and oats, and wheat;
When yellow pumpkins dot the fields,
And fragrance tells of apple yields;
When tardy blooms give way to seed
Of garden flower, and roadside weed;
Then Autumn's alchemists appear
To pay gold for the vanished year.

They touch a branchlet here and there,
And sombre leaves begin to flare;
A torch is thrown from tree to tree,
And red fire flashes, wild and free;
The lowly bushes catch the blaze,
And burn with blue flame in the haze;
Whole groves are shining with the glint
Of coins, just taken from the mint.

The country road and city street
Form a procession, fit to greet
Return of hero or of king;
Then at a touch the leaves take wing,
The fields are spread with cloth of gold,
A crimson carpet, fold on fold,
Lines gutter, hollow, gap and hole;
Yet every errant breeze takes toll.

And, as they dance, and whirl, and fly,
Their hue is caught up to the sky,
Where all the sunsets give it back,—
A vivid, gorgeous zodiac.
Against the glow the naked bough
Reveals an unknown fairness now,
And grace of line is seen to be
The innate beauty of the tree.