So many autumn poems are melancholy. Granted, some autumn days are conducive to melancholy: dull, damp and grey. Dry leaves turn to wet brown muck in the streets and you retreat inside with thoughts of blankets and hot drinks.
Fall is equated, understandably, with old age and fading beauty. It’s linked with decay, death and loss. Gerard Manley Hopkins‘ “Summer and Fall” follows that pattern with lines like these: “Margaret, are you grieving/ Over Goldengrove unleaving?” It seems to liken autumn to the loss of childhood, the loss of a former self, as it ends: “It is the blight man was born for,/ It is Margaret you mourn for.” And W.H. Auden has this pair of lines in “Canzone”: “Drift, Autumn, drift; fall, colours, where you will:/ Bald melancholia minces through the world.”
Gloomy stuff. But then there’s this one, from an old children’s anthology:
I like the fall,
The mist and all…
I like the gray
And bare, dead boughs
That coldly sway
Against my pane.
I like the rain. (“The Mist and All” by Dixie Willson)
Which reminds me of my son a couple of weeks ago when I was complaining about the persistent rain: “What’s wrong with the weather?” (more…)