Golden coat as autumn is gold,
Blue eyes as the sky is blue
When the summer singing through
Has not yet wearied or grown old:
So I saw her, so she was,
Lying asleep on a green hill,
One paw bathed by a tumbling rill,
Shining like the sunlight does.
She lifted her head, and her eyes
Pinned me with a gaze I could not flee,
Gazed into the soul and heart of me
With a look fierce, and fiercely wise.
Then she heaved herself to her feet,
Stood, and yawned, and shook her head,
Miraculous as a rising of the dead.
She drank from the blue waters fleet,
And bounded down the hill and away.
I stood for a moment as if frozen.
It was not something I would have chosen,
To see a lioness that day.
A week later, and the summer green
Well settled in the leaves had become.
Then the summer lioness struck me dumb
When playing in the woods she was seen
By me as I went to fetch the water.
She leaped and swatted at the trees,
Whipping leaves loose with her claws' breeze.
She shone like the sunlight's daughter,
Sent from some palace beyond the light.
She roared, and the sound was of flutes,
Of striking drums, of harps and lutes.
She gazed at me in her flight,
And I was struck dumb once again
By the sheer beauty and grace of her,
More delicate than autumn's whisper
Barely touching the forest then.
She somersaulted, leaped, and like dawn
That in sky shines only a short while,
She leaped into golden exile
Deeper into the wood, and was gone.
I saw her then on the edge of autumn,
Pacing slowly on the hill
Where there flowed the tumbling rill.
I knew at once her death had come.
The golden coat had darkned in hue
To a russet like that of the leaves
That hung on the trees in fading sheaves.
Her eyes had faded from their blue
To a pale color, like the foul smoke
That rises from the human fires.
Her face spoke of lost desires
As her steps the loud silence broke.
I gazed on her, met her eyes,
And I saw in her the truth and pain:
She would not come until summer again
Came back, until summer's sunrise.
She laid herself down, her gold hide
Cooling slowly into the ground.
No more could she leap or bound.
I watched over her as she died,
And (even now my heart grieves)
Saw her change and melt away.
The summer lioness on her last day
Became a pile of withered leaves.