Indiana photo by Marsha Williamson Mohr
"Because September travels slow
I catch it when I can
and hold it over for another month or two."
by Rod McKuen
from the poem "True Holly"
found in Twelve Years of Christmas
[for more Rod McKuen Christmas Poems]
"It was a day of exceeding and almost unmatched beauty,
one of those perfectly lovely afternoons
that we seldom get but in September or October.
A warm delicious calm and sweet peace brooded breathless
over the mellow sunny autumn afternoon
and the happy stillness was broken only by the voices of children
blackberry gathering in an adjoining meadow
and the sweet solitary singing of a robin."
Entry for Thursday, 24 September 1874
from A Wiltshire Diary: English Journies
by Clergyman & diarist, Robert Francis Kilvert, 1840 - 1879
Kilvert wrote these words one hundred and thirty - nine years ago, but it could have been this very week! How reassuring to feel so seasonally connected to the writers of yore, to know that the 24th of September in 1874 was precisely the kind of day that we experienced just a few days ago on the 24th of September in 2013! Is it that way every year?
As another sunny September draws to a close -- can it really be the 28th already? -- Rod McKuen's appealing suggestion seems the only way to go. No matter how slowly this beautiful month travels, it still goes by too quickly. Can we maybe hold September over for another month or two? Of course we know the answer. Not possible. Every year, I ask the very same question at the end of October -- Can we please turn back the calendar and have it all over again? It is not a question I ask at the end of every month. Just September and October, and, of course, June. For "what is so rare as a day in June? / Then, if ever, come perfect days" (as American Romantic James Russell Lowell points out in "The Vision of Sir Launfal").
It's true, only a few things are so rare as a day in June, and one of those things is a day in September, especially when it's that improbably fabulous Pleasantville weather: " . . . another sunny day - high 72, low 72, and not a cloud in the sky," so perfect, so beautiful that it would almost break your heart, though hearts don't break in Pleasantville, where perfection is unrelenting. In our world, however, such a sublime day is a reminder that the season doesn't last and that it is ever tinged with melancholy -- a sadness due in part to the fading light and the inability to say just what we mean or to pin down what is slipping away even as we speak.
Someone You Love is Far Away
but Near a Telephone
Twilight, and the maples outside the windows
Of this $95 - a - month room where I live alone
Are turning black with the time of day and time of year,
September. "It's sunset," I'd say if you called,
"And the trees are turning into shadows of themselves."
But it's too late for that, the sun is gone,
It's night here, and what I wanted to tell you
Is a lie already. Maybe, though, where you are, in the next
Time zone west, it's becoming true, taking shape
In the sky, the air, the shadow
You cast against whatever wall keeps you
There, in autumn, in twilight, on the other side
Of the telephone, where suddenly you are wanting to say
Something to someone about leaves, about light,
Not knowing what, or to whom, or why, or how far away
Anything is, while the day goes on changing
Slowly into the same night I wait in
Alone in the darkness, in love, watching the dial
Of the stars move, knowing we are both in the world.
T. R. Hummer
from The Angelic Orders
painting by Scott Prior
For T. R. Hummer ,"the trees are turning into shadows of themselves," and for Thomas Hood, Autumn stands "shadowless like Silence, listening / To silence." I can't help wondering if, in the end, the two sensations are one and the same: Shadows to shadows. Silence to silence.
I saw old Autumn in the misty morn
Stand shadowless like Silence, listening
To silence, for no lonely bird would sing
Into his hollow ear from woods forlorn,
Nor lowly hedge nor solitary thorn;—
Shaking his languid locks all dewy bright
With tangled gossamer that fell by night,
Pearling his coronet of golden corn.
Where are the songs of Summer?—With the sun,
Oping the dusky eyelids of the south,
Till shade and silence waken up as one,
And Morning sings with a warm odorous mouth.
Where are the merry birds?—Away, away,
On panting wings through the inclement skies,
Lest owls should prey
Undazzled at noonday,
And tear with horny beak their lustrous eyes.
Where are the blooms of Summer?—In the west,
Blushing their last to the last sunny hours,
When the mild Eve by sudden Night is prest
Like tearful Proserpine, snatch'd from her flow'rs
To a most gloomy breast.
Where is the pride of Summer,—the green prime,—
The many, many leaves all twinkling?—Three
On the moss'd elm; three on the naked lime
Trembling,—and one upon the old oak-tree!
Where is the Dryad's immortality?—
Gone into mournful cypress and dark yew,
Or wearing the long gloomy Winter through
In the smooth holly's green eternity.
The squirrel gloats on his accomplish'd hoard,
The ants have brimm'd their garners with ripe grain,
And honey bees have stored
The sweets of Summer in their luscious cells;
The swallows all have wing'd across the main;
But here the Autumn melancholy dwells,
And sighs her tearful spells
Amongst the sunless shadows of the plain.
Upon a mossy stone,
She sits and reckons up the dead and gone
With the last leaves for a love-rosary,
Whilst all the wither'd world looks drearily,
Like a dim picture of the drownèd past
In the hush'd mind's mysterious far away,
Doubtful what ghostly thing will steal the last
Into that distance, gray upon the gray.
O go and sit with her, and be o'ershaded
Under the languid downfall of her hair:
She wears a coronal of flowers faded
Upon her forehead, and a face of care;—
There is enough of wither'd everywhere
To make her bower,—and enough of gloom;
There is enough of sadness to invite,
If only for the rose that died, whose doom
Is Beauty's,—she that with the living bloom
Of conscious cheeks most beautifies the light:
There is enough of sorrowing, and quite
Enough of bitter fruits the earth doth bear,—
Enough of chilly droppings for her bowl;
Enough of fear and shadowy despair,
To frame her cloudy prison for the soul!
Thomas Hood, 1798–1845
Photographer Jay Beets says,
"Tilt screen up . . . lean back . . . color gets better!
I liked the color the hay cast this morning . . . that pumpkin hue!"
SEE YOU IN TWO WEEKS FOR MY
Next Fortnightly Post
Monday, October 14th
Between now and then, read
THE QUOTIDIAN KIT
my shorter, almost daily blog posts
Looking for a good book? Try
my running list of recent reading