When the grey lake-water rushes
Past the dripping alder-bushes,
And the bodeful autumn wind
In the fir-tree weeps and hushes,—
When the air is sharply damp
Round the solitary camp,
And the moose-bush in the thicket
Glimmers like a scarlet lamp,—
When the birches twinkle yellow,
And the cornel bunches mellow,
And the owl across the twilight
Trumpets to his downy fellow,—
When the nut-fed chipmunks romp
Through the maples’ crimson pomp,
And the slim viburnum flushes
In the darkness of the swamp,—
When the blueberries are dead,
When the rowan clusters red,
And the shy bear, summer-sleekened,
In the bracken makes his bed,—
On a day there comes once more
To the latched and lonely door,
Down the wood-road striding silent,
One who has been here before.
Green spruce branches for his head,
Here he makes his simple bed,
Crouching with the sun, and rising
When the dawn is frosty red.
All day long he wanders wide
With the grey moss for his guide,
And his lonely axe-stroke startles
The expectant forest-side.
Toward the quiet close of day
Back to camp he takes his way,
And about his sober footsteps
Unafraid the squirrels play.
On his roof the red leaf falls,
At his door the bluejay calls,
And he hears the wood-mice hurry
Up and down his rough log walls;
Hears the laughter of the loon
Thrill the dying afternoon;
Hears the calling of the moose
Echo to the early moon.
And he hears the partridge drumming,
The belated hornet humming,—
All the faint, prophetic sounds
That foretell the winter’s coming.
And the wind about his eaves
Through the chilly night-wet grieves,
And the earth’s dumb patience fills him,
Fellow to the falling leaves.