Autumnal

No spring nor summer beauty hath such grace
         As I have seen in one autumnal face.
– John Donne, from Elegy IX
WordPress recently gave me a “tip” to the effect that I could make my posts more attractive by adding a few pictures. So today, i decided to take them at their word.
 
Of course, you can easily find better autumnal pictures elsewhere on the net, but, as with everything else on this blog, this is the best I could do.
 
These pictures were all taken yesterday afternoon at the Winkworth Arboretum, near Godalming, in Surrey, England.
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17 responses to this post.

  1. Boo, off with the pictures! We want words! Hiss!

    Reply

  2. We always say with pride that the autumn colors are best and brightest here in New England, but what you show is not bad, not bad. Regard your post as a contribution to my global education.

    Reply

    • I have never been to New England, but have seen pictures of the autumnal colours of that region, and no – I don’t think we can compete with that! The particular attraction of this arboretum is that they have trees from all around teh world, so we aren’t restricted only to the British varieties. Those flaming reds – mainly from maple trees, I think, were particularly striking.

      And some time, I really must visit New England around autumn!

      Reply

  3. These are beautiful. What is that beautiful red tree in the top right-hand picture?

    Reply

    • I am afraid I have to display my ignorance here: I am not very good at identifying trees even at best of times, and when, as here, there are trees from around the world, i’m afraid I am particularly at a loss! This particular tree is obviously a young one and recently planted, and that doesn’t help matters I fear…

      Reply

    • I’m no expert, but it may be something like a Japanese Maple.

      Reply

  4. Posted by alan on November 5, 2013 at 11:24 pm

    If you carry on like this there is bound to be a falling out.

    Reply

  5. This is the way that autumn came to the trees:
    it stripped them down to the skin,
    left their ebony bodies naked.
    It shook out their hearts, the yellow leaves,
    scattered them over the ground.
    Anyone could trample them out of shape
    undisturbed by a single moan of protest.

    The birds that herald dreams
    were exiled from their song,
    each voice torn out of its throat.
    They dropped into the dust
    even before the hunter strung his bow.

    Oh, God of May have mercy.
    Bless these withered bodies
    with the passion of your resurrection;
    make their dead veins flow with blood again.

    Give some tree the gift of green again.
    Let one bird sing.

    ~Faiz; When Autumn Came.

    Reply

    • Hello Jash, and welcome.

      I take it this is a poem by Faiz Ahmed Faiz. I have heard of him of course, but know nothing of his work. Is the original poem in Urdu? And is it your translation? Languages of the Indian subcontinent all sound so unlike English, it is impossible to convey anything of the sonorities and the rhythms in translation, but the translation above reads rather well as a poem in English. I cannot, of course, compare with the original.

      Translating poems about seasons is often problematic, since the cycles of the seasons, and the symbolism attached to them, can be startlingly different. In Europe, for instance, winter often symbolises death, spring resurrection, summer the peak of life, and autumn a mellowness in preparation for the end. And yet, I have read poems by Rabindranath in which the torrid heat of summer is regarded as symbolic of death, and the lushness of spring as symbolic of a prodigality before departure (the Bengali year ends in spring, of course). The differences are more than merely linguistic!

      Thank you anyway for the translation,
      All the best,
      Himadri

      Reply

      • The translation is by Naomi Lazard. Reads beautifully, doesn’t it? I liked the different lens, as you said rightly, what seems joyful in new England is perhaps more poignant in the subcontinent.

        Jash.

  6. Posted by alan on November 7, 2013 at 8:52 am

    I don’t have your feeling for poetry, but I think that “mellowness in preparation for the end” might hide the conflict betwen two opposing approaches in English poetry.

    Most English speakers have heard of this line even if they don’t know the poet:

    “SEASON of mists and mellow fruitfulness!”

    But autumn has its “portents of personal death” in poetry as well, and I’m surprised that you didn’t quote the following sonnet. But maybe he is talking about the border between Autumn and Winter:

    “That time of year thou mayst in me behold,
    When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
    Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
    Bare ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
    In me thou seest the twilight of such day,”

    Reply

    • You’re right: the preparation for death need not necessarily be mellow. But of course, the seasons do flow one into another: Shakespeare’s sonnet is, as yousay, about the passage from autumn into winter.

      It’s something that requires a bit more thought, I think. One thing that strikes me about autumn is that the colours we associate with that season – at least, given our climate – in themselves suggest mellowness. Is it possible, do you think, that the nature of the symbol itself influences the way we regard the reality that is being symbolised? Now, there’s an interesting theme for a future post!

      Reply

  7. Posted by alan on November 7, 2013 at 10:06 pm

    “do you think, that the nature of the symbol itself influences the way we regard the reality that is being symbolised?”
    We’ll make a relativist, post-modernist of you yet…
    But seriously, a 100 years of Cola marketing really does make it taste better.

    Reply

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