The Agony of Autumn Shades

The hues admired by passing eyes
which here adorn each branch and limb
so impress the passers-by,
yet are birthed from pain within. 

Men stroll in autumn's changing air
and revel in the fiery trees;
they think of God painting fair
these tinted bronze and golden leaves. 

But human minds could never guess
the agony of autumn shades
called forth at the divine behest
which turn the forests into graves. 

Each colored leaf on outstretched hand
is dying slow, a death most bright.
And gently falling to the land
they move toward graves of frozen night.

This mighty maple longs for June
when plenteous stars it green unfurled
to shine in verdant green at noon--!
but now stand flushed and dry and curled.

The God in heaven has seen me proud.
What strength I had I thought was mine,
but was in truth by heav'n endowed
and now in fact by heav'n resigned.

He brings me death. My weakness bared
is no triumph against Him, trying.
Yet as the passers-by declare,
my greatest glory is in dying.