Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Always Autumn

Photograph by Ben McCartney

"The suspicion that even God is partial to autumn
has overwhelmed others,
including John Donne, who enthused:
"In Heaven, it is always Autumn."

comment by American Essayist,
Frank Trippett, 1926 - 98

Click to read the entirety of Trippett's excellent autumnal essay --
ranging in topic from ancient harvest legends
to the U. S. Consitition to the World Series --
"A Season for Hymning and Hawing"
from Time Magazine Archives
Monday, Sept. 19, 1977


In the original words of
John Donne, 1572 - 1631
English Metaphysical Poet
from a sermon preached Christmas Day, 1624

. . . in heaven it is always autumn, his mercies are ever in their maturity. We ask panem quotidianum today if you will hear his voice Psalm 95: 7], today he he will hear you. . . . He brought light out of darkness, not out of a lesser light; he can bring thy summer out of winter, though thou have no spring, though in the ways of fortune, or understanding or conscience, thou have been benighted till now, wintered and frozen, clouded and eclipsed, damped and benumbed, smothered and stupefied til now, now God comes to thee, not as in the dawning of the day, not as in the bud of the spring, but as the sun at noon to illustrate all shadows, as the sheaves in harvest, to fill all penuries . . .
[emphasis added]


and inspired by Donne's sermon,
this lovely fall sonnet by American Poet
Elizabeth Spires (b. 1952)

In heaven it is always autumn. The leaves are always near
to falling there but never fall, and pairs of souls out walking
heaven’s paths no longer feel the weight of years upon them.
Safe in heaven’s calm, they take each other’s arm,
the light shining through them, all joy and terror gone.
But we are far from heaven here, in a garden ragged and unkept
as Eden would be with the walls knocked down, the paths littered
with the unswept leaves of many years, bright keepsakes
for children of the Fall. The light is gold, the sun pulling
the long shadow soul out of each thing, disclosing an outcome.
The last roses of the year nod their frail heads,
like listeners listening to all that’s said, to ask,
What brought us here? What seed? What rain? What light?
What forced us upward through dark earth? What made us ...


Lastly, this elegiac concluding passage
from the novel Cold Mountain by American novelist
Charles Frazier (b. 1950)

Ada had tried to love all the year equally, with no discrimination against the greyness of winter, its smell of rotted leaves underfoot, the stillness in the woods and fields. Nevertheless, she could not get over loving autumn best, and she could not entirely overcome the sentimentality of finding poignancy in the fall of leaves, of seeing it as the conclusion to the year and therefore metaphoric, though she knew the seasons came around and around and had neither inauguration nor epilogue" (355).

Earlier in the novel, Frazier refers to
"a day so autumnal that to write anything
about it would be to engage in elegy"

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