Monday, 15 October 2012

A Farewell to Leaves

In a recent, comprehensive and wholly imaginary poll, Autumn was voted the Best Ever Top Top Season by writers from all genres and ages (thanks to Magicks 'R Us for the Ouija Board).   I thought this would be an appropriate time to celebrate some of my favourite poetic, lyric and visual leaves that have fluttered down from the tree of Inspiration, shaken by the wind of (I'm sorry, I've just been tapped on the shoulder by the Society for the Prevention of Naff Extended Metaphors).

An admirably adventurous English teacher introduced successive generations of Bedfordshire schoolchildren  to Auden at a relatively early age, and Autumn Song by W.H. Auden has been etched onto my synapses ever since. The opening

Now the leaves are falling fast,
Nurse's flowers will not last,
Nurses to their graves are gone,
But the prams go rolling on

is so beautifully typical of Auden's ability to combine the registers of philosophical musing and nursery rhyme.  Has anyone ever put this to music?

Keats dedicated his second-best Ode to our subject (since you ask, Melancholy), although his opening is somewhat inaccurate in that he describes the season as:

 Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun.

because when I've been down the pub with Autumn, it's said some terrible things about The Sun after a few pints.  The first line must go down, however, as one of the best-known in English Lit., and its its middle alliteration is subtly counterpointed by the initial and terminal sibilants (hem-hem).

To round off the verbal contributions, there are some lines from Leonard Cohen that are not only worthy in themselves, but belong to that set of useful lyrics to quote to those people who have somehow staggered through life under the grotesque burden of misconception that this man is not only lacking in humour but actually depressing.  From 'I Can't Forget' (which continues 'That I don't remember what' - see - I defy you not to giggle):

The summer's almost gone
The winter's tuning up.

To end with; a painting that has always intrigued me (partly because I've never actually looked up any information about it.  This could be mere apathy or a more charismatic unwillingness to shatter a sacred mystery), namely Millais' Autumn Leaves

There is something about the expressions of the two central girls, the eerie sky and the size of the leaf mound that combine to make this picture (for me) as disturbing as it is beautiful.

Do let me know your favourite Fall guys (and girls).

No comments:

Post a Comment