Wednesday, October 6, 2010

"October Trees": Siegfried Sassoon

Siegfried Sassoon is not a "nature poet" in the sense that, say, John Clare or Andrew Young may be thought of as "nature poets":  close observers and recorders of what many of us might not otherwise see.  That being said, the English countryside was a beloved part of Sassoon's life.  Many of his poems are set in the landscape around Heytesbury, Wiltshire, where he lived from 1934 until his death in 1967.  Here is an autumn poem by him.

          October Trees

How innocent were these
Trees, that in mist-green May,
Blown by a prospering breeze,
Stood garlanded and gay;
Who now in sundown glow
Of serious colour clad
Confront me with their show
As though resigned and sad.

Trees who unwhispering stand
Umber and bronze and gold,
Pavilioning the land
For one grown tired and old;
Elm, chestnut, beech, and lime,
I am merged in you, who tell
Once more in tones of time
Your foliaged farewell.

Siegfried Sassoon, The Tasking (1954).

                                  Paul Nash, "Berkshire Downs" (1922)

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