An Autumn Evening

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Dinner and day together go,
As round the table still we dwell,
Watching the sun descending slow,
Our faces shine with day’s farewell.

This is the moment of all time
When stillness reigneth over all:
When life calms down, the highest lime
Moves not, nor any leaf dares fall.

Shall we sit still in low-voiced talk
Anticipating lamp and book,
Or once more take a sauntering walk
Hill-ward to catch the sun’s last look?

The lambs and sheep have parted long,
No anxious bleat nor moor-hen’s call
Is heard, nor robin’s autumn song,
Absolute stillness reigns o’er all.

Over the orange-tinted brae,
Against that wondrous north-west sky,
Over the far sea golden-gray,
Where no horizon we descry.

A glorified world is there, behold,
Above that cloud-bank growing dim,
Where the great king hath laid his head,
Fragments of crimson still unfold:
Cherubim’s wings are ruby red,
So these may be the cherubim!

Now we return with noiseless tread,
These cottage doors are shut betimes,
Listen, this is old John Grimes’,
He reads before he goes to bed;

He reads a chapter of the Book
Of Books, to comfort his old wife,
Happily in this far Scotch nook,
Faith still trims the lamp of life.

But there our own high windows shine,
The evening fire is lit we see,
Wayfaring shoes let us resign,
And you will sing that hymn to me.

 

– William Bell Scott

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