Elegy to the Harvest Moon
The stream of day, smooth from its source,
Through vales of evergreen delight,
Here wandering winds its devious course,
With moonbeams on the lake of night.-Achmend Ardebeili, A Persian Exile
I, Joyous, hail thy crescent's silvery light,
Kind pledge of bounteous Nature s promis'd boon;
Thy growing lustre soon will gild the night,
And grateful hearts will hail the Harvest Moon.
Though gaudy Summer's gayest flowers are fled,
The fairy tints of sportive Nature's loom,
Yet thou thy mild and mellow light shah shed
On richer sweets than Summer's fairest bloom:
'Tis thine to shed thy pure, translucent gleam,
Where fragrant fruits hang clustering on the wall;
The downy peach and juicy pear thy beam
Shall see, in rich and mellow ripeness fall;
The luscious nectarine, with its purple streak;
While on yon standard's broadly branching arms
The yellow apple shews its glowing cheek,
llich as the blush of rural virgin s charms;
The husky nut attracts the urchin's eye,
He gathers clustering filberts in the vale;
The bush nods o'er the stream that murmurs by,
And there the jay, loquacious, tells her tale.
And thou wilt smile on many a heath-clad hill,
Whose purple bells breathe fragrance to the night;
The rippling wave, clear lake, and bubbling rill,
Reflecting back thy undulating light.
Though elfin feet have now forgot to tread
^ The fairy-ring, besprent with twilight dew,
Though they no more ambrosial banquets spread,
And quaff their nectar from the harebell blue;
Or lightly o'er the daisied meadow prance,
When dew-drops twinkle in the midnight ray,
And round the thorn prolong their mazy dance,
Till chanticleer proclaim approaching day:
For ever vanish'd now the tiny throng;
No moonlight revels in the flowery vale;
They only serve to grace the minstrel's song,
And live in grandam's legendary tale.
But thou shalt see o'er Scotia's sea-girt isle,
Her fruitful vales with yellow harvest crown'd;
On every plain see bounteous Nature smile,
Ami Plenty shed her golden treasure round.
Yes, thou shalt see the poor man's heart rejoice,
As he with gladness gathers in the spoil;
And hear him raise to Heaven his grateful voice,
Whose ripen'd bounty thus rewards his toil.
Now thou art sinking in the distant -west,
And stars shall twinkle in the midnight sky,
Till glowing on the brown-hill's shadowy breast,
The blush of morning blot them from the eye.
He comes—a slender thread of burnish'd gold
Appears above old Ocean's watery bed
Still brighter—now in glory manifold,
The star of day displays his radiant head.
The fleecy cloud before his presence flies,
And morning mists in thin air melt away;
On viewless wings the dews of night arise,
And all abroad is pour'd a flood of day.
Now labour's children to their toil repair,
To reap the treasure from the ripeu'd field;
Childhood, old age, young men, and maidens fair,
The sweeping scythe, or reaping-hook, to wield.
The day is warm—fatiguing their employ,
Still cheerful, still untir'd, their task they ply;
The bloom of health, the glance of love and joy
Glows on each cheek, and gladdens every eye.
The woodlands glow with many-coloured shades,
Now richly blending in the evening sun,
As Summer's verdure from their branches fades,
Green, yellow, filemot, red, brown, and dun.
'Tis night—for vanish'd is the lord of day,
A crimson canopy enshrouds his head;
And Twilight, robed in gold and purple gay,
Has o'er the west her glowing mantle spread.
And now I gladly hail thy orient glow;
Full-orb'd and fair, I see thee rise again;
Thou'rt smiling softly on the green hill's brow,
Thy light is glimmering in the dim wood glen.
Mild orb of light, behold creation fair;
How beautiful, how varied is the scene!
The shrubby dell, the grey rock, rude and bare,
The streamlet, gliding o'er the meadow green.
No sportsman's thunder echoes on the moor,
No pointer glides among the rustling corn;
Beneath thy beam the heathcock sleeps secure,
But wakes to terror with returning morn.
The swelling sail that skims along the deep
Is seen afar, white in thy silver light;
The shepherd hails thee as he folds his sheep;
The watch-dog bays thy form, at noon of night.
Hark! the loud laugh—the song of sportive glee—
Glad Echo, from her cave, repeats the strain;
'Tis joyous reapers, from their labour free,
A blithesome band, slow passing o'er the plain.
The widow'd gleaner bends beneath her load,
Her tiny grand-child prattling by her side;
To her the bank is steep, and long the road,
And lone the cot, where she her head must hide.
Shine out, bright orb, to light her lonely way;
For she is weak, and faint, and wearied sore;
O may no murky cloud obscure thy ray,
Till she in safety reach her cottage door!
And thou wilt see, deep in the shady vale,
Beneath the thorn, a fond and loving pair;
In whispers soft they breathe Love's tender tale;
O spare a virgin's shame, and shine not there!
Let not thy light a maiden's blush betray,
Nor shew the glances of her bright black eye;
And may some whispering zephyr bear away,
Unheard by William's ear, her love-sick sigh.
Though she is guileless as the gentle dove,
Yet bashful modesty and maiden pride,
The constant handmaids of unspotted love,
Constrain her glowing heart that love to hide.
It may not be—her softly-swelling breast,
That heaves and throbs in his enfolding arms,
Her ripe red lip, with raptur'd fondness press'd,
Betray her love—her bosom's soft alarms.
And, haply, thou may'st gild the glistening tear,
That speaks the grief the tongue wants power to tell,
When two fond hearts, close link d in union dear,
Responsive throb, and take a long farewell.
Smile on the hapless pair—then let thy beam
On yonder bank of blossom'd wild-thyme sleep;
Or light the swain, who guides his loaded team
Of swelling sheaves, slow down the rugged steep.
And in the barn-yard pour meridian light,
Where swells the stack beneath the builder's knee;
The master's heart elate with fond delight,
Its towering head and lengthen'd shade to see.
Thy waning beam may, haply, light at morn
A youthful train, arous'd from short repose,
Who, ere the dawn, stoop o'er the bending corn,
The rural labours of the year to close.
And thou may'st see them in the festive dance,
See many a blushing fair and happy swain,
On them, perhaps, bestow a parting glance,
As Tom leads Susan lightly o'er the plain.
And ere thou hast renew'd thy circling horn,
The naked plains, chill fogs, and woodlands sere,
The falling leaf, the brown haw on the thorn,
Will all proclaim that grizzly Winter's near.
Thy growing light and changing form declare
The march of Time—and thou wilt vanish soon;
Thou art a monitor, that cries, " Prepare!
Since life is short, improve its Harvest Moon!"
This work is in the public domain in its country of origin and other countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 70 years or less.
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