Her Imperial Majesty has Arrived

By Noel Smith
Baptist Bible Tribune • October 3, 1952

Did you know that Autumn has arrived? Well, she has. Her Imperial Majesty arrived at 9:24 p.m., Central Standard time, Monday, September 22.

She did not appear from around the mountain riding six white horses, her golden locks glorious on the wings of the wind. Not she. Preceded by the yellow and pale moons accompanied by skies of stars, Her Majesty arrived in all her aristocratic dignity and great and quiet splendor, the charm and sweetness of her smile commingling with the incense of spirals of smoke drifting from drowsy wood fires. In her fragrant gown of red and ochre and claret and russet, with a touch of vermilion, she is royally handsome and superlatively beautiful. Her angelic calm, maturity, gracefulness of mien and manner, the rose of her cheeks and lips, the softness and gentleness and music of her voice

Ah, we must confess that she has already lured us into her tender bondage, from which we are making decreasingly faint efforts to release ourself.

When Her Majesty arrives we are no longer responsible. As Bob Taylor who lived in Happy Valley by the waters of the Nolachuky in Tennessee used to say – or should have said – we can’t be responsible for everything. And so, if while touching the nectar of her presence to our lips we slip up and begin to talk about the things that are great and old and mellow and the breaths of charm and notes of music –

Of the Pilgrims hewing a new world out of a frozen New England wilderness,

Washington kneeling in the snows of Valley Forge,

Mount Vernon on the Potomac,

Jefferson at Monticello,

Daniel Webster looking toward the sea,

Andrew Jackson telling Buchanan that he once knew a man who succeeded admirably and amassed a fortune by simply minding his own business,

Gen. Lee in immaculate uniform and canary gauntlets astride Traveller,

Stonewall Jackson crossing over the river to rest under the shade of the trees,

Sherman marching to the sea amidst fire and shell and smoke,

Lincoln in conference with Grant and lonely and sublime at Gettysburg,

Teddy Roosevelt speaking from a table in Louisville with all the fury of a bobcat and casting away his sheets of manuscript as he finishes with them,

William Jennings Bryan on the hustings,

Kryl and his band at the Chautauqua,

Paderewski at his Steinway in the shadows and leaving his private car for an afternoon stroll,

Schumann-Heink and Brahms’ Lullaby,

Black Jack Pershing’s Americanism,

Mark Twain at Storm-field,

Billy Sunday approaching his climax,

William E. Borah bringing tears to the eyes of the Senate,

the turbulent Tom Watson crying “Meet in Atlanta, boys,” flivver dust rising a mile high as they hightail it over the roads to hear the raven voice of Jim Reed,

the smell of sawdust and hamburgers at the Tennessee State Fair,

familiar smiles floating above the sea of faces,

Pop Geers in the sulky behind a Tennessee trotter,

the odors coming from the dining car of the Dixie Flyer as it pauses at the station in Murfreesboro on a late wintry afternoon,

the smell of heavy buggy rugs in the livery stable and the strange look in the glass eyes of the dog and horse heads woven into them,

Ty Cobb circling the bases like a streak of lightning,

Babe Ruth knocking them over the fence at Sportsman’s Park,

Walter Johnson throwing them so fast and hard that you can only see a speck between him and the batter,

*our world going into eclipse when Jack Johnson put Jess Willard to sleep in Havana,

Chicago’s Michigan Boulevard and the cold winds from Lake Michigan and everybody having something to do quick and Tribune Tower and the American atmosphere of its lobby and the Injun Summer of John T. McCutcheon,

circling over the snow-white airport of Indianapolis at four in the morning,

the cheer and optimism in the Texas Pacific’s Texas Eagle diner as she pulls out of Dallas for Memphis as the sun is declining,

the Old South come back to life in the Memphis Cotton Carnival,

the lonely Indiana fields passing the windows of the New York Central’s Pacemaker on a cloudy December afternoon,

the cold Kansas winds allowed to do their unrestrained best in a Kansas hotel room with all windows open as you he in the center of a big, clean, warm bed,

the melancholy notes of N. C. & St. Us train No. 3’s whistle telling the mountains of the burdens of the world between midnight and 3 &clock,

gathering the last of the beans in the cornfield and the last small, but firm and juicy tomatoes the night before frost,

*the Toronto skyline seen from Lake Ontario in a scarlet dusk,

fishing under the railroad bridge with a pin for a hook and a worm for bait,

the eyes of a possum on a log in the woods,

the bark of the coondog farther beyond,

the hounds racing across the distant ridge in a yellow moon while the black coffee boils and the bacon fries –

If we slip up and begin talking like this you may know that we are lolling in the delicious embraces of Her Imperial Majesty, Autumn.

*line edited

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