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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

Love’s Autumn

By Paul Hamilton Hayne (1830–1886)

[From Poems. Complete Edition. 1882.]

I WOULD not lose a single silvery ray

Of those white locks which like a milky way

Streak the dusk midnight of thy raven hair;

I would not lose, O Sweet! the misty shine

Of those half-saddened, thoughtful eyes of thine,

Whence Love looks forth, touched by the shadow of care;

I would not miss the droop of thy dear mouth,

The lips less dewy-red than when the South,

The young South wind of passion, sighed o’er them;

I would not miss each delicate flower that blows

On thy wan cheeks, soft as September’s rose

Blushing but faintly on its faltering stem;

I would not miss the air of chastened grace

Which, breathed divinely from thy patient face,

Tells of love’s watchful anguish, merged in rest;

Naught would I miss of all thou hast, or art,

O friend supreme! whose constant, stainless heart

Doth house, unknowing, many an angel guest.

Their presence keeps thy spiritual chambers pure;

While the flesh fails, strong love grows more and more

Divinely beautiful with perished years.

Thus, at each slow, but surely deepening sign

Of life’s decay, we will not, Sweet! repine,

Nor greet its mellowing close with thankless tears.

Love’s spring was fair, love’s summer brave and bland,

But through love’s autumn mist I view the land,

The land of deathless summers yet to be;

There, I behold thee, young again and bright,

In a great flood of rare transfiguring light,

But there as here, thou smilest, Love! on me!