Gray orchards starred with fruitage gold and red,
Field beyond field of yellow-tasseled corn,
Rippling responsive to each breath of morn.
Along the Southern wall the dark vines shed
Their splendid clusters, blue-black and pale green,
With liquid sunshine through their thin films seen.
In yonder mead the haymakers at work
With lusty sounds the clear tense air fulfill,
Rearing the shapely hayrick's mimic hill,
The dried grass tossing with light-wielded fork.
Daylong the reapers glean the bladed gold;
High to the topmost orchard branches climb
The apple-gatherers, and from each limb
Shake the ripe globes of sweetness, downward rolled
Upon the leaf-strewn ground; and all day long
From the near vineyard comes the merry song
Of those who prune the stocks and tread the press.
The spirit melts beneath the mastering sense
Of supreme beauty and beneficence,
Power divine and awful gentleness.
No space for sadness in the heart to-day,
Seeing the generous, faithful earth fulfill
The springtide promise of vine, field and hill
When bush and hedge were rosy-flushed with May.
Yet at the threshold of fruition fain
We pause to catch the savor once again
Of sweet expectancy. The perfect year
In fourfold beauty rounds itself at length,
With golden fullness of developed strength,
Into the sure, complete, unswerving sphere.
This the result of frozen winter-rains,
Of hard, white snows, of dull, loud-dripping thaw,
Of showers and shine of spring, of March blasts raw,
Of glaring August heats,—these dainty grains,
This fruitage delicate. O sluggard soul!
What harvest reapest thou as seasons roll?
Mayhap to thee the slow results of time
Bring also profit, though thy fruit, hung high,
Escape the glance of careless passers-by,
A seeming fragile husk of empty rhyme.
Yet there are those who know what fed the root,
What long, dull tedium as of wintry hours,
What rapture as of spring-light after showers,
Went to the ripening of this strange, frail fruit.
Defeat and hope, disaster, joy and pain,
Grief, pleasure and despair—the same old train
That follows every soul. No grafted seed,
No alien harvest this, but a true part
Of the whole being—soul and pulse and heart—
That from the living bough is lightly freed.