This year Autumn seems slow in coming. Our oak tree is streaked with rust here and there, but the days are warm, and mostly the eye meets what Hopkins called “grass and greenworld.” Still, it won't be long before the colour comes to riot in the trees, and the leaves begin to fall. It's my favourite among the seasons, and I've written before about why it inspires more poetry than the others. It also inspires more various poetry. It's a play with many meanings, or a symphony with many themes. Some poems celebrate its beauty, where others, like Dante Gabriel Rossetti's “Autumn Song” (1883), are full of a drowsy melancholy. In spite of the beauty, death is the climax, the returning melody.
Know’st thou not at the fall of the leafHow the heart feels a languid griefLaid on it for a covering,And how sleep seems a goodly thingIn Autumn at the fall of the leaf?
And how the swift beat of the brainFalters because it is in vain,In Autumn at the fall of the leafKnowest thou not? and how the chiefOf joys seems—not to suffer pain?
Know’st thou not at the fall of the leafHow the soul feels like a dried sheafBound up at length for harvesting,And how death seems a comely thingIn Autumn at the fall of the leaf?