I’ll Tell You How

Fall Colors in Minnesota October 2021

Come, Little Leaves

by George Cooper (1840 – 1927)

“Come, little leaves,” said the wind one day.
“Come o’er the meadows with me, and play’
Put on your dress of red and gold,—
Summer is gone, and the days grow cold.”

Soon as the leaves heard the wind’s loud call,
Down they came fluttering, one and all;
Over the brown fields they danced and flew,
Singing the soft little songs they knew.

“Cricket, good-by, we’ve been friends so long;
Little brook, sing us your farewell song,—
Say you are sorry to see us go;
Ah! you will miss us, right well we know.”

“Dear little lambs, in your fleecy fold,
Mother will keep you from harm and cold;
Fondly we’ve watched you in vale and glade;
Say, will you dream of our loving shade?”

Dancing and whirling, the little leaves went;
Winter had called them, and they were content.
Soon fast asleep in their earthy beds,
The snow laid a coverlet over their heads.

We have had a very summer like fall so far, but that’s about to change.  A little nip in the air makes me feel playful and I am looking forward to temperatures dropping.  I find the process of raking leaves relaxing.  No leaf blowers allowed at my house, I like the quiet rustle of leaves and honestly find a big rake with a tarp faster and more efficient for cleaning up.   Gone are the days when I would look forward to jumping into the leaf pile in the compost bin once the chore of raking was complete, but I remember fondly jumping off the ladder into the mammoth leaf pile that the oak trees in our yard as a kid would create.     

Today’s poems are both from the 19th century, and written for as children’s poems.   Cooper was known more for his song lyrics, but also published a wide range of poetry in his lifetime.    Many of his song lyrics were set to music by Stephen Foster, one of the most influential song writers of his generation.   Here’s an example of one of their less serious collaborations.   

How the Leaves Came Down

by Susan Coolidge (1835 –  1905)

I’ll tell you how the leaves came down.
  The great Tree to his children said,
“You’re getting sleepy, Yellow and Brown,
  Yes, very sleepy, little Red;
  It is quite time you went to bed.”

“Ah!” begged each silly, pouting leaf,
  “Let us a little longer May;
Dear Father Tree, behold our grief,
  ‘Tis such a very pleasant day
We do not want to go away.”

So, just for one more merry day
  To the great Tree the leaflets clung,
Frolicked and danced and had their way,
  Upon the autumn breezes swung,
  Whispering all their sports among,

“Perhaps the great Tree will forget
  And let us stay until the spring
If we all beg and coax and fret.”
  But the great Tree did no such thing;
  He smiled to hear their whispering.

“Come, children all, to bed,” he cried;
  And ere the leaves could urge their prayer
He shook his head, and far and wide,
  Fluttering and rustling everywhere,
  Down sped the leaflets through the air.

I saw them; on the ground they lay,
  Golden and red, a huddled swarm,
Waiting till one from far away,
  White bed-clothes heaped upon her arm,
  Should come to wrap them safe and warm.

The great bare Tree looked down and smiled.
  “Good-night, dear little leaves” he said;
And from below each sleepy child
  Replied “Good-night,” and murmured,
  “It is so nice to go to bed.”