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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
America: Vols. XXV–XXIX. 1876–79.

Southern States: Shenandoah, the Valley, Va.

A November Nocturne

By Margaret Junkin Preston (1820–1897)

THE AUTUMN air sweeps faint and chill

Across yon maple-crested hill;

And on my ear

Falls, tingling clear,

A strange, mysterious, woodland thrill.

From outmost twig, from scarlet crown,

Untouched with yet a tinct of brown,

Reluctant, slow,

As loath to go,

The loosened leaves come wavering down.

And not a hectic trembler there,

In its decadence doomed to share

The fate of all,

But in its fall

Flings something sob-like on the air.

No drift or dream of passing bell,

Dying afar in twilight dell,

Hath any heard

Whose echoes stirred

A tenderer pathos of farewell.

A silent shiver, as of pain,

Goes quivering through each sapless vein;

And there are moans

Whose undertones

Are sad as autumn-midnight rain.

If then, without a dirge-like sigh,

No lightest-clinging leaf can die,—

Let him who saith

Decay and death

Need bring no heart-break, tell me why.

Each graveyard gives the answer: there

I read “Resurgam” everywhere;

So easy said

Above the dead,—

So weak to anodyne despair!