"The Melancholy Days Are Come"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: This romantic, lamenting poem is an experiment in verse form and sound effects. Bryant evokes the melancholy deadness of autumn and laments the death of "the fair young flowers," the "beauteous sisterhood." These lovely flowers are now in their graves and can never be brought to life again. Bryant gives a list of all the flowers that were killed by the plague-like frost. Even a "calm mild day" of autumn is unable to revive them. The poem ends with a comparison. The dead flowers remind Bryant of his sister, "one who in her youthful beauty died, / The fair meek blossom that grew up and faded by my side." It seemed sad "that one so lovely should have a life so brief," and yet the poet is reconciled by the fact that it was appropriate that his sister, "So gentle and so beautiful, should perish with the flowers." The first stanza of the poem evokes the gloom of the autumn scene:

The melancholy days are come, the saddest of the year,
Of wailing winds and naked woods, and meadows brown and sere.
Heaped in the hollows of the grove, the autumn leaves lie dead;
They rustle to the eddying gust, and to the rabbit's tread;
The robin and the wren are flown, and from the shrubs the jay,
And from the wood-top calls the crow through all the gloomy day.