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And now that the lofty leaves have fallen

And now that the lofty leaves have fallen, that kept our garden sheltered beneath their shade, through the bare branches can be seen beyond them the roofs of the old villages climbing towards the horizon.
So long as summer poured out its gladness, none of us saw them grouped so near our door; but now that the flowers and the leaves are withered, we often brood on them with gentle thoughts.
Other people live there between stone walls, behind a worn threshold protected by a coping, having as sole friends but the wind and the rain and the lamp shining with its friendly light.
In the darkness at the fall of evening, when the fire awakens and the clock in which time swings is hushed, doubtless, as much as we, they love the silence, to feel themselves thinking through their eyes.
Nothing disturbs for them or for us those hours of deep and quiet and tender intimacy wherein the moment that was is blessed for having been, and of which the coming hour is always the best.
Indeed, how they also clench the old happiness, made up of pain and joy, within their trembling hands; they know each other's bodies that have grown old together, and each other's looks worn out by the same sorrows.
The roses of their life, they love them faded, with their dead glory and their last perfume and the heavy memory of their dead brightness falling away, leaf by leaf, in the garden of the years.
Against black winter, like hermits, they stay crouching within their human fervour, and nothing disheartens them and nothing leads them to complain of the days they no longer possess.
Oh! the quiet people in the depths of old villages! Indeed, do we not feel them neighbours of our heart! And do we not find in their eyes our tears and in their courage our strength and ardour!
They are there beneath their roof, seated around fires, or lingering sometimes at their window-sill; and on this evening of spacious, floating wind, perhaps they have thought of us what we think of them.

Poem by Emile Verhaeren
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