Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Last Summer Days

Gorgeous Indian-summer day in Portland; I had work up in the far northeast of Vancouver, Washington, monitoring infiltration tests though the lazy, sunny afternoon. Cool enough for crispness - the meadowgrass was white with frost when I arrived in the predawn - but warming to pleasantly shirtsleeve temperatures by afternoon. A light wind from the south bringing on it the dry tartness of fallen leaves, the sultry scent of woodsmoke, and the high, clear iciness of the late October sky.

It gave me time to sit on my tailgate, book neglected at my side, and just enjoy the beauty of the last of summer and the brief, bright autumn we pass through so quickly before the gray rains of winter begin.


When summer's end is nighing
  And skies at evening cloud,
I muse on change and fortune
  And all the feats I vowed
  When I was young and proud.

The weathercock at sunset
  Would lose the slanted ray,
And I would climb the beacon
  That looked to Wales away
  And saw the last of day.

From hill and cloud and heaven
  The hues of evening died;
Night welled through lane and hollow
  And hushed the countryside,
  But I had youth and pride.

And I with earth and nightfall
  In converse high would stand,
Late, till the west was ashen
  And darkness hard at hand,
  And the eye lost the land.

The year might age, and cloudy
  The lessening day might close,
But air of other summers
  Breathed from beyond the snows,
  And I had hope of those.

They came and were and are not
  And come no more anew;
And all the years and seasons
  That ever can ensue
  Must now be worse and few.

So here's an end of roaming
  On eves when autumn nighs:
The ear too fondly listens
  For summer's parting sighs,
  And then the heart replies.

~A.E. Housman (Last Poems)

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