Monday, 26 August 2013

Leaves in the lines

Despite being designed, conceived and manufactured in Malta, I have a profound physical aversion to extreme heat.  By 'extreme' I mean, of course, anything over 15°c, so to say this Summer has been a challenge is an understatement of subterranean profundity.  I am reminded, in literary terms, of J.G. Ballard's The Burning World and that sequence in Stephen Donaldson's Thomas Covenant cycle where The Despiser has hacked into the planetary weather system so that each season is exaggerated to acquire deadly characteristics.  It is, therefore, with undignified eagerness that I have embraced each slightly cooler day, and am panting for Autumn to begin in earnest.  One of my ambitions this year is to read Louis MacNeice's Autumn Journal, which is one of the many yawning gaps in my literary CV.  A few years ago, giddy with the excitement of having purchased an Acme © Home Poetry Kit, I lobbed a lump of Autumnal words into the Sonnet stencil, cranked the attractively-bright plastic starting-handle and produced the following.  I sincerely hope MacNeices's effort is better.


The sunlight is soft with hospitable mystery;
In August it scorched us, expected and bland.
The pavements are crunchy with Natural History,
Where trees are dismissing their leaves out of hand.
It’s scruffy and vague, this shaggy brown season
Each morning arrives with a mist that depletes
All edges and borders – it was for good reason
That autumn inspired some reasonable Keats.
White winter is death, and all of us harbour
Suspicions of picture-book summers and springs,
A frisson of something amiss in the arbour
Is what this benevolent avalanche brings.
So wrap up in autumn, and heap praise upon it,
Season of almost compulsory sonnet.

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