Despite the unnatural mugginess of the London streets, it is now officially Autumn! It’s hard to say, but I think this may be my favourite season of the year. I’m not one for warm weather; I like fresh, crisp afternoons with blackberry crumble, dog walks and lots of tartan.
The poem I have chosen for October is from the Romantic period, which I believe to be the best literary era. Think Wordsworth, Coleridge and Austen, and the emotive language used to describe the wonders of our natural world. George Monbiot wrote a fantastic piece in the Guardian today about our reckless destruction of the planet, and it seems fitting to reflect on this poem by John Keats, from a time when the world was greener and people were deeply connected with nature.
I find the poem comforting in its reminder not to be sad that the warm months are gone, because Autumn has its own music to play.
To Autumn by John Keats
Seasons 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-eaves run;
To bend with apples the mossed 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-brimmed 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-reaped furrow sound asleep,
Drowsed with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twinèd 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? Aye, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too –
While barrèd 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.