by Carol Dixon photo by me of my back garden
‘Barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day’
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-eves 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-brimm’d 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 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,
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 barred 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. John Keats
I first came across Keats’ poem Ode to Autumn when we studied it as part of our English Literature course at the girls’ grammar school I attended in the 1960s. For me it still is one of the best descriptions of the feel of the season–not only because of its wonderful rich description of the world around at this time of year but also because it refers back to the other seasons as well and even gives a hint to forthcoming winter (robin chirruping & swallows leaving for warmer climes).
Ode to Autumn was the last poem Keats wrote before his death of tuberculosis as a young man, and due to the incurable nature of the disease, he would be well aware that he was in the autumn of his life, despite his youth. As a septuagenarian, I too am in the autumn of my life; over the years, even when I was young, there were ‘autumn’ periods through illness or change of circumstances. Yet rather than causing sadness, sometimes they were times of abundance and great joy as ‘old’ things passed in order to give birth to a fallow wintertime of rest which hinted at the spring to come.
John Donne’s poem To Autumn takes a more somber note, but still there are glimmers of light in the darker times.
Come, pensive Autumn, with thy clouds and storms
And falling leaves and pastures lost to flowers;
A luscious charm hangs on thy faded forms,
More sweet than Summer in her loveliest hours,
Who in her blooming uniform of green
Delights with samely and continued joy:
But give me, Autumn, where thy hand hath been,
For there is wildness that can never cloy –
The russet hue of fields left bare, and all
The tints of leaves and blossoms ere they fall.
In thy dull days of clouds a pleasure comes,
Wild music softens in thy hollow winds;
And in thy fading woods a beauty blooms
That’s more than dear to melancholy minds.
Donne suffered greatly from depression, but in his lighter moments when the fog lifted he was able to see so perceptively and his beautiful words have spoken to many over the centuries and provided hope in the dull days of life.
Both of these poets remind us of the need to be thankful for the gifts of God around us even when it is difficult to see them for the mist and autumn rain–as I have discovered myself, recently, while recovering from surgery, (with a couple of setbacks I hadn’t reckoned on) and learning to find God in pain hasn’t been an easy lesson. I am so grateful for the Godspacelight current theme of Gratitude & Thankfulness and for the wonderful reflections submitted by my fellow Godspacelight writers which have helped immensely, along with your prayers.
One of my favourite gratitude songs which I used to sing with my family (now in their 40s!) is classed as a children’s hymn but it is wonderful to sing whatever our age or season of life. It’s called ‘Autumn days’ by Estelle White and I hope you enjoy singing along and ask yourself what ‘GREAT BIG THANK YOU’ you need to say to God today.
Join Christine and Lilly TODAY for the next session of Facebook Live on October 13th, 2021 at 9am PT. If you are not able to join live, you can check out the recording on YouTube later.