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Autumn Trail

Dreamy glimpses of a world recalled and yet to come:
The Stagecoach Trail declines and wends through thickets under trees,
Illumined red and gold beneath November’s slanting sun
And rustling in the mesh, Alaska’s first exploring breeze.

The season waits uneasily with vigilance its due,
The first approaching cirrus clouds that inch across the sky;
Apocalyptic prayers of saints, their incense burns anew
There ‘midst the blue cathedral dome in acquiescent sigh.

The scent of fallen leaves and earth, damp humus and decay,
Then haunting hint of cedar stirred, assuring breath of grace.
The dancing light through Chartres’ windows from the crossing may
As fleeting focus fades, reveal bright leaves to take their place.

An inner, primal quickening precedes the swelling storm.
Incisive faith disperses doubt: The future we consign
To Him who made the earth and sky, and once again will warm
This trail beneath these dazzling trees, and spring eternal shine.

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Dan Tuton is a poet living in Albuquerque, New Mexico. After an initial career as a family therapist, he has been ordained as an Episcopal priest since early in 2004. He initially served a parish in the Baltimore area for four years, and have been the Vicar, then Rector of Hope in the Desert in Albuquerque since 2007.


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15 Responses

  1. Paul Buchheit

    Nice meter, rhyme, and imagery, Dan. Great line: “An inner, primal quickening precedes the swelling storm.”

    Reply
    • Dan Tuton

      Thanks very much, Paul! I’m glad you enjoyed it, and appreciate your feedback

      Reply
  2. jd

    Enjoyed very much – a beautiful fall poem giving
    credit where credit is due. Thank you.

    Reply
  3. Brian Yapko

    This is a wonderful poem, Dan, which breathes deeply of God and sings of His promise. Your use of iambic heptameter gives the poem a gravity and depth which would be lost with shorter lines, and the language is evocative and stunning. Your invocation of the stained glass at Chartres is unexpected and wonderful. But what I love best after your presentation of a number of complex images, including the “blue cathedral dome in acquiescent sigh,” is the utter simplicity of your declaration of faith: Incisive faith disperses doubt: The future we consign/To Him who made the earth and sky…” I love this poem and I hope we see more from you.

    Reply
    • Dan Tuton

      Brian, thank you so much for your comments. It feels like you received everything I hoped to express, and maybe even a little more! You’ve been an inspiration for me.

      Reply
  4. Geoffrey S.

    The use of heptameter slows the poem to a walking pace so that the reader can appreciate the sights on the trail, and take a little time to think about what he sees, and praise God. It gives it a steady, slow, measured pace. Wasn’t sure how Chartre cathedral fits, however, since the poem starts in Alaska.

    Reply
    • Dan Tuton

      Thank you, Geoffrey! I appreciate the time you took to read and comment. Sorry for the lack of clarity on locations–The Stagecoach Trail is actually in Northern California, and November is usually the month in which the first Pacific storms curl downward from the Gulf of Alaska. The imagery of a cathedral blending with that of a foothill forest was my (rather idiosyncratic) way of honoring sacred spaces crafted by human and divine hands. Thanks again!

      Reply
  5. Margaret Coats

    I think the poem’s symbolic journey happens in the American West, with Alaska’s first exploring breeze coming down from the far north to suggest winter on the way. But this is far more than a nature poem, and every image can be read as a symbol. There is a search for an Edenic old world that will certainly be found. I would say there is no speaker here, but rather a viewer with a wide range of vision. He travels through a place that itself suggests the late history of Christendom, while breathing the incense of the prayers of the saints in the New Testament Apocalypse of Saint John (visionary if ever there was one). Chartres is here to make present again the glory of the Middle Ages, as it did to American writer Henry Adams. There is a storm to come, but faith will pass through it securely, and again warm the trail the viewer contemplates, if only in the eternal spring.

    This year marks the 40th anniversary of the modern Chartres pilgrimage, revived in 1982 by one man who undertook a medieval journey as a pilgrim (not a tourist!) to seek the cure of a son with cancer. The son was cured, and when the father made the trip in thanksgiving in 1983 he was joined by many friends and neighbors. The rest is history, with thousands of Traditionalists from all over the world now making the trek each year on Pentecost weekend. The Chartres pilgrimage and Dan Tuton’s poem are remarkable for upholding the sanctity, the stability, and the perennial character of doctrine, institutions, and customs in true Christianity. But as he says, vigilance is due in our uneasy season.

    Reply
    • Dan Tuton

      Margaret, I’m honored by your comments. Your poetic insights make me feel like you walked the trail with me! And I deeply appreciate your historical perspective on Chartres. I’m warmed at your heartfelt appreciation. Thank you!

      Reply
  6. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    What a beautiful and thought-provoking poem. The shining opening line drew me in, and this atmospheric piece that engages all of the senses with magnificent images, swept me up in thoughts of that thin veil between Heaven and earth… and the gift of eternal life. Thank you.

    Reply
    • Dan Tuton

      Thank you so much, Susan! I, too, often reflect on “thin places”, the mystery of which only enhances my sense of wonder. I’m honored by your kind words.

      Reply

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