This month’s poem is Autumn, from 1922, by Laila Mitchell. Not much information exists about Laila. She seemed to be widely published as a poet. Newspapers, Ladie’s Home Journal, the American Agriculturalist, New Ideal Magazine, and more carried her poetry. I found her published in one book, from 1917: The Best Christmas Book: Recitations, Dialogues, Exercises, Plays… etc., edited by Joseph Sindelar. Definitely one to look at if you like vintage poetry and activities with young folks involved.
Although I’ve titled this poem Autumn from 1922, I have no idea when it was really written. Most of the poetry I found from Laila was printed between 1905 and 1938, and often they listed the periodical where the poem was published first. For instance, a poem about Christmas might be titled Christmas… as seen in New Ideal Magazine. Whether this information was provided by Laila or the newspaper itself I have no idea.
So, in the hopes that Laila’s work will not pass from the earth, I give you her Fall poem.
by Laila Mitchell
When maple-leaves begin to show
A tint of crimson at their tips;
When clover-meadows umber grow,
And somber-hued the pheasant slips
Through copse and hedge, the truth is
We near the end of summers reign.
When chestnut-burrs have prickly grown,
And apples ripen on the trees,
When locusts hum their monotone,
And heavy-winged the laggard bees
Fly hiveward, then we’re sure at last
The golden summer-time is past.
When wild-grapes redden in the sun,
And milkweeds spill their snowy down,
When field-mice through the stubble run,
And sumacs don their crimson gown,
When birds in flocks at even meet,
Then autumn comes on flying feet.
And when we wanderers homeward turn,
Tired with the search for happier things,
When on the hearth the home-fires burn,
And in his nook the cricket sings,
We know the crown of all the year,
The gladdest, sweetest days are here.
Do you know Laila?
If you know anything about Laila or her history, or if she published her poetry in one place somewhere, I’d love to know. It seems that she started signing her poetry Laila Mitchell Thornton sometime in the late Twenties/early Thirties, but I was unable to find anything more than the few newspapers who listed her poetry with her added last name.
Laila wrote often about the seasons, the holidays, and nature. If you enjoy this type of nature poetry, you might enjoy this post about A Song of June.