Tuesday, September 7, 2010


Here's a poem for all you autumn-lovers, "Autumn" by Philip Larkin:

The air deals blows: surely too hard, too often?
No: it is bent on bringing summer down.
Dead leaves desert in thousands, outwards, upwards,
Numerous as birds; but the birds fly away,

And the blows sound on, like distant collapsing water,
Or empty hospitals falling room by room
Down in the west, perhaps, where the angry light is.
Then rain starts; the year goes suddenly slack.

O rain, o frost, so much has still to be cleared:
All this ripeness, all this reproachful flesh,
And summer, that keeps returning like a ghost
Of something death has merely made beautiful,

And night skies so brilliantly spread-eagled
With their sharp hint of a journey--all must disperse
Before the season is lost and anonymous,
Like a London court one is never sure of finding

But none the less exists, at the back of the fog,
Bare earth, a lamp, scrapers. Then it will be time
To seek there that ill-favoured, curious house,
Bar up the door, mantle the fat flame,

And sit once more alone with sprawling papers,
Bitten-up letters, boxes of photographs,
And the case of butterflies so rich it looks
As if all summer settled there and died.

One of the things that hurts me about the approach of autumn is all the butterfly death...as soon as I see one in front of my car, it's in the grill. No matter how many times I notice that little fluttering motion out of the corner of my eye, I can't stop or swerve in time to save a butterfly.

Seems like a metaphor, doesn't it?


Karen said...

From Elinor Wylie's _Wild Peaches_

The winter will be short, the summer long,
The autumn amber-hued, sunny and hot,
Tasting of cider and of scuppernong;
All seasons sweet, but autumn best of all.
The autumn frosts will lie upon the grass
Like bloom on grapes of purple-brown and gold.
The misted early mornings will be cold;
The little puddles will be roofed with glass.
The sun, which burns from copper into brass,
Melts these at noon, and makes the boys unfold
Their knitted mufflers; full as they can hold
Fat pockets dribble chestnuts as they pass.

Anonymous said...

I actually like fall. Even though summer is my favorite season of all. And winter. Spring is a little too obvious, but I like it anyway. I think my relationship with spring is strained because here it arrives right in the middle of winter. It's like those sports seasons which used to be so clearly defined and now just go on all year so that you've got the Stanley Cup in May.
But the butterflies -- they are so difficult to avoid! I felt bad about it everywhere I went. I think there are more butterflies in eastern parts than we have here. You slow down, and think you're clear and then they com drifting back -- almost as if your slowing down has changed the air currents and caused some drift of air to suck them into your radiator. Sorry.

Jeanne said...

Karen, I like that one for its sunny outlook! I just haven't been ready for fall yet.

Readersguide, when you were here, you were driving on some of the roads where butterfly death is most common...I love your description of the air currents; that's exactly how it is.

Jodie said...

Oh I never thought of butterflies dying! It seems like they all just disappear around here. Larkin seems like the perfect autumn poet to me (along with Frost, although maybe he's more winter)because he could be such a grump, but his grumpiness produced such beautiful poems.

Jeanne said...

I feel like the Queen of Butterflicide when I'm on the road this time of year.

Larkin is statistically my favorite poet, since there are more by him on the blog than by anyone else...

Anonymous said...

I really did feel terrible. I am a friend of butterflies! I plant things for them in my garden all the time?