Monday, November 26, 2012

Compensations, Revisited

In a recent post, I suggested that autumn's losses are accompanied by compensations.  One of those compensations is the sound of empty trees. The other day I walked down an avenue of mostly leafless trees -- only a few stragglers remained, most of them, curiously, out on the tips of branches.

The day was breezy.  The trunks creaked, as I imagine the masts of a wooden ship might creak in a wind.  Higher up, the empty branches clacked and clattered against each other.  To borrow from Wallace Stevens's "The Region November":  the trees seemed to be "saying and saying."  But not, alas, in any known language.  Which is not to say that communication is wholly impossible.

The fairy tale atmosphere of James Elroy Flecker's "November Eves" and Louis MacNeice's "The Riddle" may be apt as well.  As may be the following poem by Thomas Hardy.

                                    Emily Carr, "Inside a Forest" (c. 1935)

             Night-Time in Mid-Fall

It is a storm-strid night, winds footing swift
          Through the blind profound;
     I know the happenings from their sound;
Leaves totter down still green, and spin and drift;
The tree-trunks rock to their roots, which wrench and lift
The loam where they run onward underground.

The streams are muddy and swollen; eels migrate
          To a new abode;
     Even cross, 'tis said, the turnpike-road;
(Men's feet have felt their crawl, home-coming late):
The westward fronts of towers are saturate,
Church-timbers crack, and witches ride abroad.

Thomas Hardy, Human Shows, Far Phantasies, Songs and Trifles (1925).

                                          Emily Carr, "Clearing" (1942)


Bovey Belle said...

I love Hardy and thank you for this new-to-me poem of his. He must be "harking back" if he mentions the turnpike road. The thought of men feeling eels crawling over their boots as they tramped home takes me back many years - though it was rats in my case, in a smallholding piggery . . .

Stephen Pentz said...

Bovey Belle: one of the delights of reading Hardy (as you know) is that he wrote so many poems that one is always discovering something new.

As ever, I appreciate your stopping by.