Sunday, October 10, 2010

Autumn Poems

An exchange between blogger- neighbor Anna Lear and me (go to her Laughing Raven for exquisite photos of our country, often focused on the small rather than the large), starting with her reaction to the photo below, prompted me to reprint my favorite Autumn poems.

Campbell's was written when he lived in Provence near Marseilles in the twenties. But (trivia time); though he was English, Hughes wrote October Dawn in Northampton, Mass in the fifties when he was living there with his then wife Sylvia Plath. As a sometimes UMass Amherst student I did a lot of hawking and grouse and woodcock shooting within 20 miles of there in the seventies...

by Roy Campbell (1901-1957)

I love to see, when leaves depart,
The clear anatomy arrive,
Winter, the paragon of art,
That kills all forms of life and feeling
Save what is pure and will survive.

Already now the clanging chains
Of geese are harnessed to the moon:
Stripped are the great sun-clouding planes:
And the dark pines, their own revealing,
Let in the needles of the noon.

Strained by the gale the olives whiten
Like hoary wrestlers bent with toil
And, with the vines, their branches lighten
To brim our vats where summer lingers
In the red froth and sun-gold oil.

Soon on our hearth's reviving pyre
Their rotted stems will crumble up:
And like a ruby, panting fire,
The grape will redden on your fingers
Through the lit crystal of the cup.

October Dawn

By Ted Hughes

October is marigold, and yet
A glass half full of wine left out

To the dark heaven all night, by dawn
Has dreamed a premonition

Of ice across its eye as if
The ice-age had begun to heave.

The lawn overtrodden and strewn
From the night before, and the whistling green

Shrubbery are doomed. Ice
Has got its spearhead into place.

First a skin, delicately here
Restraining a ripple from the air;

Soon plate and rivet on pond and brook;
Then tons of chain and massive lock

To hold rivers. Then, sound by sight
Will Mammoth and Saber-tooth celebrate

Reunion while a fist of cold
Squeezes the fire at the core of the world,

Squeezes the fire at the core of the heart,
And now it is about to start.

Update. Jackson Frishman illustrates the poem here.


Anonymous said...

Love the images.

Almost didn't leave a comment but when I saw that the captcha was "etherial" I could not resist.

Anonymous said...

I've always liked the cummings poem, all in green went my love riding, for a fall poem...


Peculiar said...

I just posted a Southern Rockies take on October Dawn.

I love that cummings poem, Paul, but I can't say I ever thought of it as particularly autumnal, hunting imagery notwithstanding. It's a very green and silver poem to me, rather than red or gold. Though I perceive Lohengrin as strongly green and gold, while everyone else in the world seems to find it blue and silver, so perhaps my synaesthesia is miscalibrated.