“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.” ~ Albert Camus
As the twilight of the year is upon us I thought I would give you a break from my ramblings and offer instead some high culture to round off my favourite season – Autumn.
I have taken a selection of poetry, music and art relating this most rustic of seasons, (and yes, it wouldn’t be complete without some music from Vivaldi!) to fill you with awe and admiration at nature’s most vibrant of transitions.
It seems appropriate to turn to prose, while the last of the orange leaves cling doggedly to wind-battered trees…
The temporary and mutable aspects of our existence are highlighted so beautifully in Autumn. The descriptions of Autumn in relation to a human lifespan mirror those of the seasons, and can be likened to a person reaching their most vivid and vibrant peak; having reaped the harvest of a lifetime of experience, still benefiting from bountiful health, before the inevitable decline into the winter of life, which implies death…
In that regard perhaps we’d all wish for an Indian summer!
Enjoy some wonderful, evocative paintings by the likes of Monet, van Gogh, Henry Herbert La Thangue, Atkinson Grimshaw and Camille Pissarro, mixed with some of the most beautiful verses ever written about Autumn…
Digging ~ Edward Thomas (1878 – 1917)
Today I think
Only with scents, – scents dead leaves yield,
And bracken, and wild carrot’s seed,
And the square mustard field;
Odours that rise
When the spade wounds the root of tree,
Rose, currant, raspberry, or goutweed,
Rhubarb or celery;
The smoke’s smell, too,
Flowing from where a bonfire burns
The dead, the waste, the dangerous,
And all to sweetness turns.
It is enough
To smell, to crumble the dark earth,
While the robin sings over again
Sad songs of Autumn mirth.
Marsh Marigolds ~ Nora Hopper (Mrs Chesson) (1871 – 1906)
Here in the water-meadows
Marsh Marigolds ablaze
Brighten the elder shadows
Lost in autumn haze.
Drunkards of sun and summer
They keep their colours clear,
Flaming among the marshes
At the waning of the year.
Thicker than bee-swung clovers
They crowd the meadow-space:
Each to the mist that hovers
Lifts an undaunted face.
Time that has stripped the sunflower,
And driven the bees away,
Hath on these golden gypsies
No power to dismay.
Marsh marigolds together
Their ragged banners lift
Against the darkening weather,
Lost rains and frozen drift:
They take the lessening sunshine
Home to their hearts to keep
Against the days of darkness,
Against the time of sleep.
John Keats – Ode to Autumn:
Spring passes and one remembers one’s innocence.
Summer passes and one remembers one’s exuberance.
Autumn passes and one remembers one’s reverence.
Winter passes and one remembers one’s perseverance.
“No spring nor summer beauty hath such grace as I have seen in one autumnal face.” ~ John Donne
Elegy IX: The Autumnal
Dante Gabriel Rossetti – Autumn Song:
“That time of year thou mayst in me behold” (Sonnet 73) by William Shakespeare
That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thou see’st the twilight of such day
As after sunset fadeth in the west;
Which by and by black night doth take away,
Death’s second self, that seals up all in rest.
In me thou see’st the glowing of such fire,
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the deathbed whereon it must expire,
Consumed with that which it was nourished by.
This thou perceiv’st, which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well which thou must leave ere long.
William Blake – To Autumn:
Charles Baudelaire – Chant d’Automne
Soon we shall plunge into the cold darkness;
Farewell, vivid brightness of our short-lived summers!
Already I hear the dismal sound of firewood
Falling with a clatter on the courtyard pavements.
All winter will possess my being: wrath,
Hate, horror, shivering, hard, forced labor,
And, like the sun in his polar Hades,
My heart will be no more than a frozen red block.
All atremble I listen to each falling log;
The building of a scaffold has no duller sound.
My spirit resembles the tower which crumbles
Under the tireless blows of the battering ram.
It seems to me, lulled by these monotonous shocks,
That somewhere they’re nailing a coffin, in great haste.
For whom? — Yesterday was summer; here is autumn
That mysterious noise sounds like a departure.
I love the greenish light of your long eyes,
Sweet beauty, but today all to me is bitter;
Nothing, neither your love, your boudoir, nor your hearth
Is worth as much as the sunlight on the sea.
Yet, love me, tender heart! be a mother,
Even to an ingrate, even to a scapegrace;
Mistress or sister, be the fleeting sweetness
Of a gorgeous autumn or of a setting sun.
Short task! The tomb awaits; it is avid!
Ah! let me, with my head bowed on your knees,
Taste the sweet, yellow rays of the end of autumn,
While I mourn for the white, torrid summer!
Miles Davis – Autumn Leaves:
The brilliant baroque concerto from Antonio Vivaldi with Julia Fischer and the Academy of St. Martin In The Fields:
I’ll leave you with this poignant performance of Tchaikovsky – The Seasons ‘October’ Vladimir Tropp on Piano:
“I would rather sit on a pumpkin, and have it all to myself, than be crowded on a velvet cushion.” ~ Henry David Thoreau