Season of Mists and Mellow Fruitfulness

Two hundred years ago, halfway around the planet from where I sit, Constable painted someone fishing, or perhaps just messing around, in some little English stream I shall never see.  “Tree Trunks” is the name it goes by, and the trunks are all right, as are the shadows and sun on the grassy bank.  What touch me most are the browned leaves of autumn and the shimmering gold light created by those increasingly slanting sunbeams.

This is what we have now; we have it every year; amazing.  Further, after the last couple of weeks we deserve it more than ever.

To go with that, here is John Keats:  Ode to Autumn.

“Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness!
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
And 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-reap’d furrow sound asleep,
Drowsed with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twinèd flowers;
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cider-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

Where are the songs of Spring?  Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too, –
While barrèd clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small 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 redbreast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

 

No more have we thatched roofs, thankfully, and no more standing there winnowing grain for hours by throwing basket after basket after basket – full up into the air so that the chaff can blow away.  Nor do we dose our babies with poppy juice, as my ancestors did, and lay them to snooze at the edge of the field while we go out to bend down and reap, hours by hours.

Aside from those things, Keats details all the loveliness still to be enjoyed in autumn. Our season is prolonged this year.  How goes it with you all? Have you a favorite painting or poem for autumn?

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14 thoughts on “Season of Mists and Mellow Fruitfulness”

  1. Immortal Autumn,  by Archibald MacLeish, is my fave!

    “I speak this poem now in grave and level voice

    In praise of Autumn, of the far, horn-winding Fall.

    ……

    Between the mutinous brave burning of the leaves

    And Winter’s covering of our hearts with his deep snow

    We are alone.  There are no evening birds. We know

    The naked moon, the tame stars circle at our eaves.*

    ……

    ..It is the human season. On this sterile air

    Do words outcarry breath; the sound goes on and on..”

     

    These are just excerpts, please, read the poem!!  Oh but * I loooove this line, “the tame stars circle at our eaves “.  “I praise the Fall, it is the human season”..

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  2. Oh and I also love Edna St Vincent Millay’s line, in a sonnet “I know I am but Summer to Your Heart” where she refers to Autumn with the words “gracious weight of golden fruit”.  How perfect: the vowel harmony of ” gracious weight”,  which sneaks up on the reader because of the spelling  idiosyncrasies ….Praise God for our poets!

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  3. jzdro:
    barrèd clouds bloom the soft-dying day

    We have this, on most clear evenings, for quite a few days this time of year. The high cirrus, the mackerel clouds, few but way up there, preen as the declining sun streams his graduating angstroms. Suddenly the crowns of the trees, still in leaf, snap into flat images of black lace all along the ridge back of the hayfield. Those high barrèd clouds, awed, retire to obscurity in the sky.

    That is what happens; what can I say?

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  4. Hypatia:
    of the far, horn-winding Fall.

    Hi Hypatia!  What’s he talking about with the horn-winding Fall?

    You said to look it up, so I did. What came up included far-horn-winding.

    Hum. Is he making us imagine the sound of a blowing horn way on the horizon, on account of the leaves are down, the puckerbrush is dying back, and so sound travels farther across the landscape?

    If so, that’s tomorrow’s post! Tomorrow it’s about how it all turns into a chilly world overnight. The warm days do cease.  Today we bask in the balmy golden photons and believe they will never stop streaming to us at this level of balminess.

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  5. jzdro:
    Have you a favorite painting or poem for autumn?

    I’ll see that and raise you H. G. Wells, Richard Burton, and glam rock: “Forever Autumn”.

    Autumn in Lignières:

    Arbres en automne: 2013-11-25

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  6. Tripods? The rout of civilization? The massacre of mankind?

    Gee, thanks! Everything was all so mellow and golden. Then somebody showed up.

    That is an interesting photo of Lignières countryside. Is it about to hail or sleet? Hail the almighty thunderstone?

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  7. jzdro:
    That is an interesting photo of Lignières countryside. Is it about to hail or sleet? Hail the almighty thunderstone?

    Actually just the customary autumn ground fog, above our altitude at the moment, with oblique sunlight below.

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  8. John Walker:
    Actually just the customary autumn ground fog, above our altitude at the moment, with oblique sunlight below.

    That’s a relief to learn. Now I can go back to it and appreciate the beauty.

    Haha – thanks!

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  9. jzdro:

    Hypatia:
    of the far, horn-winding Fall.

    Hi Hypatia!  What’s he talking about with the horn-winding Fall?

    You said to look it up, so I did. What came up included far-horn-winding.

    Hum. Is he making us imagine the sound of a blowing horn way on the horizon, on account of the leaves are down, the puckerbrush is dying back, and so sound travels farther across the landscape?

    If so, that’s tomorrow’s post! Tomorrow it’s about how it all turns into a chilly world overnight. The warm days do cease.  Today we bask in the balmy golden photons and believe they will never stop streaming to us at this level of balminess.

    Well, you’re right, MacLeish is talking about rhe period

    “between the mutinous brave burning of the leaves/And Winter’s  covering of our hearts with his deep snow”

    So yes, his poem is about later in the year.  Given the last line, I think “far horn winding” refers to the way sound carries when the forests are bare of foliage.

    (Usually, that is.  This is the first year of my life that we really didn’t get any Autumn color to speak of.  I hate to even say it.  The leaves are brownish red and gold where they lie on the ground, but the canopy  is almost bare now, and they did not turn colour before they dropped.   It’s cold here now, but it was very warm even last week at this time.  And the rain ,it raineth every day!  and every night, it seems.   People are saying it’s the general sogginess which prevented the cold nights that lead to the quick blanching out of the chlorophyll….all I know it its depressing.

    Any  of our scientists have a cheery word for me?  Will we ever see the gorgeous reds and yellows again on our mountain? )

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  10. John Walker:
    I’ll see that and raise you H. G. Wells, Richard Burton, and glam rock: “Forever Autumn”.

    I guess it speaks to my combination of age, eclectic musical tasts, and geeky interests that I own these CDs.  As real CDs, and losslessly stored in my media server.  (-:

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  11. Hypatia:
    People are saying it’s the general sogginess which prevented the cold nights that lead to the quick blanching out of the chlorophyll….all I know it its depressing.

    In complementary fashion, ladies from Vermont waiting with us to board the Lake Champlain historical cruise vessel Carillon allowed as how they had had drought in northeastern Vermont this past summer, and then lots of red in the maple trees bang at the start of the fall.

    It is depressing.  When a sunny day does come around we really do take notice and enjoy it.

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