When comrades seek sweet country haunts

October 3, 2007

When on the ground red apples lie
In piles like jewels shining,
And redder still on old stone walls
Are leaves of woodbine twining;

When all the lovely wayside things
Their white-winged seeds are sowing,
And in the fields, still green and fair,
Late aftermaths are growing;

When springs run low, and on the brooks,
In idle golden freighting,
Bright leaves sink noiseless in the hush
Of woods, for winter waiting;

When comrades seek sweet country haunts,
By twos and twos together,
And count like misers, hour by hour,
October’s bright blue weather.

O suns and skies and flowers of June,
Count all your boasts together,
Love loveth best of all the year
October’s bright blue weather.

Few things evoke memory for me like the changes of seasons, and especially the changes into and out of autumn. I think this is owed, in part, to the childhood recollection of the holiday extravaganza that is inaugurated with Halloween and ends with Christmas. The last quarter of the year has all the good holidays. Time passed, and autumn became associated with the start of a new college year. October also happens to have been the time of the year that I met the woman I would, to my everlasting surprise and amazement, eventually wed.

The excerpt above is from Helen Hunt Jackson’s “October’s Bright Blue Weather,” the entire text of which can be found here. I think it beautifully captures the look and feel of a grand day in the early fall, at once celebrated for its own sake as much for the pregnant expectation of the approaching winter. And mind you, I grew up in a part of the country where the change of seasons was more like a marginal note in the calendar than a chapter all to itself. In any event, I’ve given short shrift to this autumn thus far, and will endeavor to change my ways. Herewith, then, Jackson’s poem. As an added bonus, I’ll include Spenser’s Fall, as well as October. As usual, both are cribbed from the Cantos of Mutabilitie with some spellings modernized by yours truly.

Then came the Autumne all in yellow clad,
As though he joyed in his plentious store,
Laden with fruits that made him laugh, full glad
That he had banisht hunger, which to-fore
Had by the belly oft him pinched sore.
Upon his head a wreath that was enrold
With eares of corne, of every sort he bore:
And in his hand a sickle he did holde,
To reape the ripened fruits the which the earth had yold.

[…]

Then came October full of merry glee:
For, yet his noule was totty of the must,
Which he was treading in the wine-fats see,
And of the joyous oyle, whose gentle gust
Made him so frollick and so full of lust:
Upon a dreadfull Scorpion he did ride,
The same which by Dianaes doom unjust
Slew great Orion: and eeke by his side
He had his ploughing share, and coulter ready tyde.

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