October 17 - Falling in Love with Fall

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On October 17, 1900, a Philadelphia newspaper published Paul Laurence Dunbar's poem "October."  It had previously appeared in his poetry collections Oak and Ivy (1893) and Lyrics of Lowly Life (1896).

October is the treasurer of the year,
And all the months pay bounty to her store;
The fields and orchards still their tribute bear,
And fill her brimming coffers more and more.
But she, with youthful lavishness,
Spends all her wealth in gaudy dress,
And decks herself in garments bold
Of scarlet, purple, red, and gold.


Excerpt from "October" by Paul Laurence Dunbar.  The Call (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania).  October 17, 1900.

Though he spent most of his life in urban areas, Paul wrote a great deal of poetry in appreciation of nature and the seasons, such as "Merry Autumn" and "Love's Seasons."  He had recently returned to the East from a fall and winter spent in the Rocky Mountains.  In a newspaper essay and his novel The Love of Landry, Paul described the colorful beauty of autumn in the Rockies.

I started to Denver a little over eight months ago.  I shook hands with friends who never expected to press my hand again, and then a dash across the country, through seas of yellow grain, over vast prairies, across great rivers, and one day with a compelling power that I shall never forget, Denver took me into her arms.  Through a long golden autumn, the most beautiful I have ever seen, she nursed me like a gentle mother, and I lay on her breast drinking her pure air like a child its mother's milk.  New life glowed within me.  New strength throbbed in my limbs.  The future that had been so dark brightened.  I awoke in the mornings to look out upon the mountains with joy in life again.

"Paul Laurence Dunbar Restored to Health."  Unidentified newspaper clipping [1900].  Paul Laurence Dunbar Papers, Ohio History Connection (Microfilm edition, Roll 5).

The morning was like a song, so sweet it was half sad.  The air was like wine, and so clear that the farthest mountain ranges looked near and neighborly.  The alfalfa fields, with their deep, dark green, half sprung from the third cutting, stood out in deep contrast to the browns and yellows which are Colorado’s prevailing autumn tints.  The sky was a dream of blue and white, with a touch of crimson over a peak where the sun had lately come up.  The mysterious, ever-changing mountains were clothed in a morning veil of pale opal light, except in the hollows, where the darkness of shadow turned it to lavender and purple.

Excerpt from Chapter 5 of The Love of Landry, by Paul Laurence Dunbar.  Published in 1900.