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A handwritten sonnet by Vardis Fisher found inside the front cover of a copy of his first book, Sonnets to an Imaginary Madonna.

One from a sequence now abandoned –

The summer now is yielding to the frost:
The scarlet patches far away & high
Show where the maples burn against the sky.
The paths upon the hills are trellis-crossed
With autumn’s flame; when above the west
A copper sun hangs in its purple mist
The river rolls in waves of amethyst
And red pools fade to lilac on its breast.

A year ago today this hour you drew
Farewell about you, when your last desire
Obliterated summer in its fire,
The maple with its flaming bough was you
Burning with terrible beauty in that field
Of sacrifice where they give all who yield.

Vardis Fisher


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