Poetry Sunday: Autumn in the Garden

The autumn sun lends a glow to these 'Graham Thomas' roses in my December garden, some of the last of the year.

The late autumn garden is a bittersweet place. We know that the first frost is just around the corner, but in these last few days before its arrival, the blossoms seem lovelier than ever. The days now are filled with sunshine. With the high temperatures in the 60s F., it is very pleasant just to spend the day puttering around the garden and soaking it all in.

Henry Van Dyke was an American writer and poet who lived from 1852 to 1933. I think he caught the essence of the autumn garden very well in this poem. I particularly like the sentiment that he expresses in his last stanza: "They who know the sorrows other lives have known never walk alone." 

Indeed, in my experience, gardeners are the most empathetic of humans and they well know that "the sadness of the fall comes alike to all." 

Autumn in the Garden

           by Henry Van Dyke

When the frosty kiss of Autumn in the dark

Makes its mark
On the flowers, and the misty morning grieves
Over fallen leaves;
Then my olden garden, where the golden soil
Through the toil
Of a hundred years is mellow, rich, and deep,
Whispers in its sleep.

'Mid the crumpled beds of marigold and phlox,
Where the box
Borders with its glossy green the ancient walks,
There's a voice that talks
Of the human hopes that bloomed and withered here
Year by year,--
Dreams of joy, that brightened all the labouring hours,
Fading as the flowers.

Yet the whispered story does not deepen grief;
But relief
For the loneliness of sorrow seems to flow
From the Long-Ago,
When I think of other lives that learned, like mine,
To resign,
And remember that the sadness of the fall
Comes alike to all.

What regrets, what longings for the lost were theirs!
And what prayers
For the silent strength that nerves us to endure
Things we cannot cure!
Pacing up and down the garden where they paced,
I have traced
All their well-worn paths of patience, till I find
Comfort in my mind.

Faint and far away their ancient griefs appear:
Yet how near
Is the tender voice, the careworn, kindly face,
Of the human race!
Let us walk together in the garden, dearest heart,
Not apart!
They who know the sorrows other lives have known
Never walk alone. 


  1. I liked it, particularly these verses:
    "There's a voice that talks
    Of the human hopes that bloomed and withered here
    Year by year..."

    1. There are many passages in this poem that speak to me. It seems so evocative of this season.

  2. Lovely roses too! Too bad we don't have roses this time of the year in New England.


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