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  The Beechnut Gatherer  

 

All over the earth like a mantle,
    Golden, and green, and grey,
Crimson, and scarlet, and yellow,
    The Autumn foliage lay;--
The sun of the Indian Summer
    Laughed at the bare old trees
As they shook their leafless branches
    In the soft October breeze.

Gorgeous was every hill-side,
    And gorgeous every nook,
And the dry, old log was gorgeous,
    Spanning the little brook;
Its holiday robes, the forest
    Had suddenly cast to earth,
And, as yet, seemed scarce to miss, them,
    In its plenitude of mirth.

I walked where the leaves the softest,
    The brightest, and goldenest lay,
And I thought of a forest hill-side,
    And an Indian Summer day,--
Of an eager, little child-face
    O'er the fallen leaves that bent,
As she gathered her cup of beech nuts,
    With innocent content.

I thought of the small, brown fingers
    Gleaning them one by one,
With the partridge drumming near her
    In the forest bare and dun,
And the jet-black squirrel, winking
    His saucy, jealous eye
At those tiny, pilfering fingers,
    From his sly nook up on high

Ah, barefooted little maiden
    With thy bonnetless, sun-burnt brow,
Thou glean'st no more on the hill-side--
    Where art thou gleaning now?
I knew by the lifted glances
    Of thy dark, imperious eye,
That the tall trees bending o'er thee
    Would not shelter thee by and by.

The cottage by the brookside,
    With its mossy roof is gone;--
The cattle have left the uplands,
    The young lambs left the lawn;--
Gone are thy blue-eyed sister,
    And thy brother's laughing brow;
And the beech-nuts He ungathered
    On the lonely hill-side now.

What have the returning seasons
    Brought to thy heart since then,
In thy long and weary wand'rings
    In the paths of busy men?--
Has the Angel of grief, or of gladness,
    Set his seal upon thy brow?
Maiden, joyous or tearful,
    Where art thou gleaning now?

       - Mrs. J. C. Yule


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