Home  »  Poems of Places An Anthology in 31 Volumes  »  Close of Our Summer at Frascati

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Italy: Vols. XI–XIII. 1876–79.


Close of Our Summer at Frascati

By Frances Anne Kemble (1809–1893)

THE END is come: in thunder and wild rain

Autumn has stormed the golden house of Summer.

She, going, lingers yet,—sweet glances throwing

Of kind farewell upon the land she loves

And leaves. No more the sunny landscape glows

In the intense, uninterrupted light

And splendor of transparent, cloudless skies;

No more the yellow plain its tawny hue

Of sunburnt ripeness wears; even at noon

Thick watery veils fall on the mountain-ranges,

And the white sun-rays, with pale slanting brushes,

Paint rainbows on the leaden-colored storms.

Through milky, opal clouds the lightning plays,

Visible presence of that hidden power,—

Mysterious soul of the great universe,

Whose secret force runs in red human veins,

And in the glaring white veins of the tempest;

Uplifts the hollow earth, the shifting sea;

Makes stormy reformations in the sky,

Sweeping, with searching besoms of sharp winds,

The foul and stagnant chambers of the air,

Where the thick, heavy summer vapors slumber;

And, working in the sap of all still-growth,

In moonlight nights, unfolding leaves and blossoms,—

Of all created life the vital element

Appearing still in fire,—whether in the sea,

When its blue waves turn up great swathes of stars;

Or in the glittering, sparkling winter ice-world;

Or in the flickering white and crimson flames

That leap in the northern sky; or in the sparks

Of love or hate that flash in human eyes.

Lo, now, from day to day and hour to hour

Broad verdant shadows grow upon the land,

Cooling the burning landscape; while the clouds,

Disputing with the sun his heaven-dominion,

Checker the hillsides with fantastic shadows.

The glorious unity of light is gone,

The triumph of those bright and boundless skies;

Where, through all visible space, the eye met nothing

Save infinite brightness,—glory infinite.

No more at evening does the sun dissolve

Into a heaving sea of molten gold,

While over it a heaven of molten gold

Panted, with light and heat intensely glowing,

While to the middle height of the pure ether,

One deepening sapphire from the amber spreads.

Now trains of melancholy, gorgeous clouds,

Like mourners at an emperor’s funeral,

Gather round the down-going of the sun;

Dark splendid curtains, with great golden fringes,

Shut up the day; masses of crimson glory,

Pale lakes of blue, studded with fiery islands,

Bright golden bars, cold peaks of slaty rock,

Mountains of fused amethyst and copper,

Fierce flaming eyes, with black o’erhanging brows,

Light floating curls of brown and golden hair,

And rosy flushes, like warm dreams of love,

Make rich and wonderful the dying day,

That, like a wounded dolphin, on the shore

Of night’s black waves, dies in a thousand glories.

These are the very clouds that now put out

The serene beauty of the summer heavens.

The autumn sun hath virtue yet, to make

Right royal hangings for his sky-tent of them;

But, as the days wear on, and he grows faint

And pale and colorless, these are the clouds

That, like cold shrouds, shall muffle up the year,

Shut out the lovely blue, and draw round all—

Plain, hill, and sky—one still, chill wintry gray.