Wednesday, November 13, 2013


An Autumn Serenade

John Leicester Warren (1835-1895), "An Autumn Serenade," The Collected Poems of Lord De Tabley (London: Chapman & Hall Limited, 1903), p. 85 (line numbers added):
Before the tears of autumn shed
  All leaves away at winter's door,
My queen, across the foliage tread
  Of yellow gusty woodland floor;
And watch the squirrel overhead        5
  In stories of her pine-trees hoar.

When only redbreast chirps thee on,
  And fingered chestnut leaves are cast;
And gaudy greenwood gathers wan
  On lime and beech, and sickens fast;        10
And acorns thicken paths upon,
  And shrew-mice treasure winter mast.

When plovers tremble up to cloud,
  And starling legions whirl apace;
And redwing nations restless-loud        15
  Are over every fallow's face;
And barren branches like a shroud
  Blacken the sun-way's interspace.

The winds, all summer idly dead,
  Give prelude to their winter tune.        20
Grey hoar-frost hears them, from his bed
  Lays out white hands, and wakens soon.
He laughs as soughing elm-trees shed
  Old homes of breeding rooks in June.
Notes to myself:

3 My queen: parse as vocative
3, 5 parse as imperatives
6 stories: plural of storey, not story
7 chirps thee on: the Oxford English Dictionary recognizes that chirp may be transitive (sense 2.b "To greet or incite by chirping") but gives no examples
8 gather: none of the intransitive meanings in the Oxford English Dictionary really seem to fit, except perhaps "To contract, to grow narrower" (sense 20.a) or "To form folds or wrinkles" (sense 20.b)
11 upon: postponed preposition, whose object is paths
16 fallow: parse as a noun

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