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Autumn: A Dirge : Poet Percy Shelley calls on November’s sister months to watch by the graveside of the dead Year.
Autumn: A Dirge

From ‘The Complete Poetical Works of Percy Bysshe Shelley’.

‘Autumn: A Dirge’ was published by Percy Shelley’s widow Mary in 1824, two years after Percy’s death in Italy at the age of just twenty-nine. Unlike his contemporary John Keats, Shelley makes no attempt to evoke Autumn’s golden harvests, but calls on all but the most carefree summer months to keep vigil by the dying Year.

Autumn: A Dirge

THE warm sun is failing, the bleak wind is wailing,
The bare boughs are sighing, the pale flowers are dying,
And the Year
On the earth her death-bed, in a shroud of leaves dead,
Is lying.
Come, Months, come away,
From November to May,
In your saddest array;
Follow the bier
Of the dead cold Year,
And like dim shadows watch by her sepulchre.

The chill rain is falling, the nipped worm is crawling,
The rivers are swelling, the thunder is knelling
For the Year;
The blithe swallows are flown, and the lizards each gone
To his dwelling;
Come, Months, come away;
Put on white, black, and gray;
Let your light sisters play—
Ye, follow the bier
Of the dead cold Year,
And make her grave green with tear on tear.*

* For two very different poetical views of Autumn, see November by Thomas Hood and To Autumn by John Keats.

From ‘The Complete Poetical Works of Percy Bysshe Shelley’.

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