Now the November skies,
And the clouds that are thin and gray,
That drop with the wind away;
A flood of sunlight rolls,
In a tide of shallow light,
Gold on the land and white
On the water, dim and warm in the wood;
Then it is gone, and the wan
Clear of the shade
Covers fields and barren and glade.
The peace of labor done,
Is wide in the gracious earth;
The harvest is won;
Past are the tears and the mirth;
And we feel in the tenuous air
How far beyond thought or prayer
Is the grace of silent things,
That work for the world alway,
Neither for fear nor for pay,
And when labor is over, rest.
The moil of our fretted life
Is borne anew to the soul,
Borne with its cark and strife,
Its burden of care and dread,
Its glories elusive and strange;
And the weight of the weary whole
Presses it down, till we cry:
Where is the fruit of our deeds?
Why should we struggle to build
Towers against death on the plain?
All things possess their lives
Save man, whose task and desire
Transcend his power and his will.
The question is over and still;
Nothing replies: but the earth
Takes on a lovelier hue
From a cloud that neighbored the sun,
That the sun burned down and through,
Till it glowed like a seraph’s wing;
The fields that were gray and dun
Are warm in the flowing light;
Fair in the west the night
Strikes in with vibrant star.
Something has stirred afar
In the shadow that winter flings;
A message comes up to the soul
From the soul of inanimate things:
A message that widens and grows
Till it touches the deeds of man,
Till we see in the torturous throes
Some dawning glimmer of plan;
Till we feel in the deepening night
The hand of the angel Content,
That stranger of calmness and light,
With his brow over us bent,
Who moves with his eyes on the earth,
Whose robe of lambent green,
A tissue of herb and its sheen,
Tells the mother who gave him birth.
The message plays through his power,
Till it flames exultant in thought,
As the quince-tree triumphs in flower.
The fruit that is checked and marred
Goes under the sod:
The good lives here in the world;
It persists, it is God.