Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Ultimate Tribute to Autumn

It is another interesting fall day in New York, still warm and summer-like but also evincing some of the qualities of a deepening autumn and mingled with them are the subtle harbingers of the much colder weather to come.

All of this makes me think of John Keats' "To Autumn." I have memorized this poem and now write it here from memory. It has long been on my list of favorites and reminds me of so much that is thrilling and just a little bit wistful about autumn and the coming of winter. If you're interested in such things, you might want to check to see if I have recalled it accurately. Please don't hold me accountable for the grammar, which, I think, is idiosyncratic and not particularly consistent anyway.

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom friend of the maturing sun
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
The vines that round the thatch eve run;
To bend with apples, the mossed cottage trees,
To fill all fruit with ripeness to the core,
To swell the gourd and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel, to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease
For summer has o'er-brimmed their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reaped furrow fast asleep
Drowsed with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
spares the next swath and all its twined flowers;
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cider-press, with patient look,
Thy watchest the last oozings, hour by hour.

Where are the songs of Spring, Aye, where are they?
Think not of them, thou has thy music too;
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day
And touch the stubble plains with rosy hue,
Then in a wailful choir the gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn,
Hedge-crickets sing and now with treble soft,
The red breast whistles from a garden croft
And gathering swallows twitter in the sky.

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