Lillian M. Miller

A Japanese November (1919)

Lo, with a swift decaying pomp, November comes,
Her scarlet tresses rippling along the trees
And all her robes in tapestry of bronze
And gold. Across far fields of rice she comes,
Stopping to peer into the sunny courts
Of sleek, thatched farmers’ cottages, where bright
Persimmons hang their burnished fruit aloft
On wrinkled boughs, like orange elfin lanterns
Strung in brocaded patterns with the rich
Blue-green of pines. Even the slim bamboos,
Soft-whispering to the winds, wave gold-tipped plumes;
And myriad leaves drop from their summer nests
To crumple down beside old temple walls
Where, in a last imperial pageantry,
Russet chrysanthemums flaunt to the end
Their wine-tipped petals. Breathlessly, the world
Waits for the golden bubble of autumn to fall,
Burst by cold winter’s ruthless, ice-ringed hand.

And lo, with a gaunt mysteriousness, November goes
From hedge and maple grove to the high, lone hills:
There, tiredly, to sink beneath the pines,
Tall, grey-winged pines, ghosts hauntingly half veiled
In blowing mist, that stand and watch alone
Between dim, shadowy voids unfathomable.
Gravely she lies, lulled by the murmuring rains
That string the slender needles of the pines
With crystal beads; and silently she sleeps
Under the pale dream mountains, half revealed,
Half melting into mist; while o’er her grave
The long, faint bamboo grasses whisper low
With swaying leaves in rustling requiem,
As she glides forth to grey eternity.

Lillian May Miller was an American illustrator who studied ukiyoe techniqie in Japan and produced prints with Japanese subjects, some of which are collected in Grass Blades from a Cinnamon Garden (1927). ‘A Japanese November’ appeared in the journal of the American Asiatic Association, Asia, in November 1919, p. 1125.

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