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And sundown clouds have caught again
The flush of ripe October.
We hear the woody hill-tops croon,
The airy maize-blades whisper,
The year is in its afternoon,
And leaf-bells ring the vesper.
What is it gives this gloaming song,
Its melancholy feature?
What is it makes our souls prolong
This monotone of nature?
What tearful grief is in our hearts—
What swaying under-reason?
What sorrow real now imparts
Its spirits to the season?
The crisping leaves may shoal the ways,
The sun turn down the heavens—
Still all the years have fading days,
And all the days have evens.
Enough—whatever else may be—
That in this Autumn weather,
The verdure of the world and Lee
Have silent fled together.
So prone are men where'er they move
To tread the ways of evil,
They seldom hold their kind above
A common grade and level.
But Lee, beside his fellowmen,
Stood, over all, a giant—
The higher type—the perfect plan—
God fearing, God reliant.
A giant not alone in fields
Where bent the sanguine Reaper,
Where death threw o'er his harvest-yields
An autumn crimson deeper;
But with the iron strength of will
He sought his life to fashion,
He held his ruder pulses still
And closed the gates of passion.
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