by Mason Cole (November 2020)
Young Man at his Window, Gustave Caillebotte, 1875
An American Sonnet
Our fathers built a City stone on stone
From drafted plans revised with loving care,
While we (their undeserving heirs) atone
For what we think the sin of living there.
Perhaps it’s best to let their banners fade,
Their walls erode, their monuments decay.
We cannot hope to keep what they have made
When from our hearts they’ve long since passed away.
Still, though their works may vanish, they will not;
Their souls continue in the mind of God —
While we, who cannot match what they have wrought,
Survey our broken homes and barren sod,
Content to dwell imprisoned in a cage
Of our design—the Spirit of our Age!
A Homostrophic Ode to the Fall
I love the fall for its clean crisp breeze,
For its fluttering leaves, for its emptying trees,
For the brisk and agreeable weather—
And also because with each full free breath
My body takes in the perfume of death,
The trees and year wilting together.
The season of spring is for plowing and sowing,
The labor of summer is tending and growing,
But harvest is autumn’s sweet story—
Where the grain of the field and the fruit of the vine
Make for bounteous tables and bottomless wine,
A tribute to natural glory.
Still, the message of fall is that nothing can last,
For the fruits that comprise our autumnal repast
Come from fathers both severed and shaken.
Soon winter will come to consume what remains.
Its frost settles heavy on orchards and plains,
And all that we have will be taken.
But while Earth’s greatest glories are destined to Fall,
A small seed of promise reposes in all,
A hope to which people may cling:
That though buried ‘neath Winter’s tyrannical chill,
Yet the best of this year shall become better still
When it rises anew in the Spring.
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Mason Cole is a history teacher from Oklahoma. He occasionally writes.
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