Summer is Over, Autumn has Announced Itself

Summer is Over, Autumn has Announced Itself

The first arrival for me came Tuesday, when I emerged from my car, and was hit at mid-day with a gust of breeze that had a cool leading edge. The breezes have had warm or hot edges til now. The coolness was lovely and refreshing and it sent me off on a search for how to express the coming arrival poetically.  There are lots of springtime poems. One of my favorites for that season is G.M. Hopkins’ What is so beautiful as spring, when weeds, in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush; thrushes’ eggs look little low heavens . . . ?

Autumn has fewer admirers, but I found some good ones new to me. I already knew the aforesaid poet Hopkins’ poem Spring and Fall–to a Young Girl, which is a meditation on youth, growth, and death. But I wanted something fresh and found several. Keats’ To Autumn was a revelation, as were the autumnal poetry of Frost, and Rilke, Shelley, Wallace Stevens, and somebody named Shakespeare.

The one I want to share with you is by the modern poet Mary Oliver, a favorite of UUs for two generations. One verse of hers that appears in our hymnal is

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

Her poem “Song for Autumn” asks us more questions

In the deep fall don’t you imagine the leaves think how comfortable it will be to touch the earth instead of the nothingness of air and the endless freshets of wind?

And don’t you think the trees themselves, especially those with mossy, warm caves, begin to think of the birds that will come – size, a dozen – to sleep inside their bodies?

And don’t you hear the goldenrod whispering goodbye, the everlasting being crowned with the first tuffets of snow?

The pond vanishes, and the white field over which the fox runs so quickly brings out its blue shadows. And the wind pumps its bellows. And at evening especially, the piled firewood shifts a little, longing to be on its way.

Rev. Leland Bond-Upson

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