It was a very fine November day …
And the Misses Musgrove were determined upon a walk.
No longer having a car since moving to Switzerland, I do a great deal of walking these days. The weather here, for the past week or so, has been wonderfully accommodating. Highs about 60, mostly clear skies, lows in the mid-40s. I have my windows and doors open most days, and when we walk outside leaves crunch gratifyingly beneath the boots of my daughter and myself. It is a time for inspiration in nature, which brings me back to Persuasion:
Her pleasure in the walk must arise from the exercise and the day, from the view of the last smiles of the year upon the tawny leaves, and withered hedges, and from repeating to herself some few of the thousand poetical descriptions extant of autumn, that season of peculiar and inexhaustible influence on the mind of taste and tenderness, that season which had drawn from every poet, worthy of being read, some attempt at description, or some lines of feeling.
It seems to be a compulsion of mine each year to try and find the poetry Anne Elliot might have been conjuring in her mind as she tromped silently along behind the Musgroves and Captain Wentworth. In honor of the season, here are a few possibilities. These, admittedly, are not the most uplifting lines, but as Anne was far from happy during the scene in question I feel they fit well. Enjoy!
Sonnet 73 by William Shakespeare
That time of year thou may’st in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruin’d choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thou see’st the twilight of such day,
As after sunset fadeth in the west,
Which by-and-by black night doth take away,
Death’s second self, that seals up all in rest.
In me thou see’st the glowing of such fire
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the death-bed whereon it must expire
Consum’d with that which it was nourish’d by.
This thou perceivest, which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well which thou must leave ere long.
Elegy IX: The Autumnal by John Donne
In all her words, unto all hearers fit,
To Autumn by William Blake
O Autumn, laden with fruit, and stainèd
With the blood of the grape, pass not, but sit
Beneath my shady roof; there thou may’st rest,
And tune thy jolly voice to my fresh pipe,
And all the daughters of the year shall dance!
Sing now the lusty song of fruits and flowers.
`The narrow bud opens her beauties to
The sun, and love runs in her thrilling veins;
Blossoms hang round the brows of Morning, and
Flourish down the bright cheek of modest Eve,
Till clust’ring Summer breaks forth into singing,
And feather’d clouds strew flowers round her head.
`The spirits of the air live on the smells
Of fruit; and Joy, with pinions light, roves round
The gardens, or sits singing in the trees.’
Thus sang the jolly Autumn as he sat;
Then rose, girded himself, and o’er the bleak
Hills fled from our sight; but left his golden load.
My last offering would not be known to Austen, let alone Anne, but I have little doubt both would approve. A lovely November to you all!
Spring and Fall: to a young child by Gerard Manley Hopkins