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William Davis Gallagher

(August 21, 1808 - June 27, 1894)
American Poet,  Editor  and Journalist


Autumn in the West                     
THE autumn time is with us. Its approach
Was heralded, not many days ago,                         
By Hazy skies that veiled the brazen sun,
And sea-like murmurs from the rustling corn,
And low-voiced brooks that wandered drowsily
By pendant clusters of empurpling grapes
Swinging upon the vine. And now, 'tis here!
And what a change hath passed upon the face
Of nature, where the waving forest spreads,
Then robed in deepest green! All through the night
The subtle frost has plied its magic art;
And in the day the golden sun hath wrought
True wonders; and the winds of morn and even
Have touched with magic breath the changing leaves.
And now, as wanders the dilating eye
Athwart the varied landscape, circling far,
What gorgeousness, what blazonry, what pomp
Of colors bursts upon the ravished sight!
Here, where the poplar rears its yellow crest,
A golden glory;, yond, where the oak
Stands monarch of the forest, and the ash
Is girt with flame-like parasite, and broad
The dogwood spreads beneath, and fringing all,
The sumac blushes to the ground, a flood
Of deepest crimson; and afar, where looms
The gnarled gum, a cloud of bloodiest red.
Out in the woods of autumn! I have cast
Aside the shackles of the town, that vex
The fetterless soul, and come to hide myself,
Miami! in thy venerable shades.
Here where seclusion looks out on a scene
Of matchless beauty, I will pause awhile,
And on this bank with varied mosses crowned
Gently recline. Beneath me, silver-bright,
Glide the calm waters, with a plaintive moan
For summer's parting glories. High o'er-head,
Seeking the sedgy brinks of still lagoons
That bask in southern suns the winter through,
Sails tireless the unerring waterfowl,
Screaming among the cloud-racks. Oft from where,
In bushy covert hid, the partridge stands,
Bursts suddenly the whistle clear and loud,
Far-echoing through the dim wood's fretted aisles.
Deep murmurs from the trees, bending with brown
And ripened mast, are interrupted oft
By sounds of dropping nuts; and warily
The turkey from the thicket comes, and swift
As flies an arrow darts the pheasant down,
To batten on the autumn; and the air,
At times, is darkened by a sudden rush
Of myriad wings, as the wild pigeon leads
His squadrons to the banquet. Far away,
Where tranquil goves on sunny slopes supply
Their liberal store of fruits, the merry laugh
Of children, and the truant school-boy's shout,
Ring on the air, as, from the hollows borne,
Nuts load their creaking carts, and lush pawpaws
Their motley baskets fill, with clustering grapes
And golden-sphered persimmons spread o'er all.



The Cardinal Bird

A DAY and then a week passed by:
  The redbird hanging from the sill
Sang not; and all were wondering why
It was so still--
When one bright morning, loud and clear,
Its whistle smote my drowsy ear,
Ten times repeated, till the sound
Filled every echoing niche around;
And all things earliest loved by me,--
The bird, the brook, the flower, the tree,--
Came back again, as thus I heard
The cardinal bird.
When maple orchards towered aloft,
  And spicewood bushes spread below,
Where skies were blue, and winds were soft,
I could but go--
For, opening through a wildering haze,
Appeared my restless childhood's days;
And truant feet and loitering mood
Soon found me in the same old wood
(Illusion's hour but seldom brings
So much the very form of things)
Where first I sought, and saw, and heard
The cardinal bird.
Then came green meadows, broad and bright,
  Where dandelions, with wealth untold,
Gleamed on the young and eager sight
Like stars of gold;
And on the very meadow's edge,
Beneath the ragged blackberry hedge,
Mid mosses golden, gray and green,
The fresh young buttercups were seen,
And small spring-beauties, sent to be
The heralds of anemone:
All just as when I earliest heard
The cardinal bird.
Upon the gray old forest's rim
  I snuffed the crab-tree's sweet perfume;
And farther, where the light was dim,
I saw the bloom
Of May-apples, beneath the tent
Of umbrel leaves above them bent;
Where oft was shifting light and shade
The blue-eyed ivy wildly strayed;
And Solomon's-seal, in graceful play,
Swung where the straggling sunlight lay:
The same as when I earliest heard
The cardinal bird.
And on the slope, above the rill
  That wound among the sugar-trees,
I heard them at their labors still,
The murmuring bees:
Bold foragers! that come and go
Without permit of friend or foe;
In the tall tulip-trees o'erhead
On pollen greedily they fed,
And from low purple phlox, that grew
About my feet, sipped honey-dew:--
How like the scenes when first I heard
The cardinal bird.
How like!--and yet . . . The spell grows weak:--
  Ah, but I miss the sunny brow--
The sparkling eye--the ruddy cheek!
Where, where are now
The three who then beside me stood
Like sunbeams in the dusky wood?
Alas, I am alone! Since then,
They've trod the weary ways of men:
One on the eve of manhood died;
Two in its flush of power and pride.
Their graves are green, where first we heard
The cardinal bird.
The redbird, from the window hung,
  Not long my fancies thus beguiled:
Again in maple-groves it sung
Its wood-notes wild;
For, rousing with a tearful eye, I gave it to the trees and sky!
Who walked youth's flowery ways with me,
I could not, dared not but believe
It too had brothers, that would grieve
Till in old haunts again 't was heard,--
The cardinal bird.

 See Google Books for  Selections from the Poetical Literature of the West by William Davis Gallagher (1841),M1 which includes a further selection of his poems.