Have no fear. I'm not going mad. I did not reply.
William Rothenstein (1872-1945), "St Martin's Summer"
The images of leaves underfoot in C. H. Sisson's "Leaves," which appeared here recently, reminded me of the following poem by Andrew Young.
Walking in Beech Leaves
I tread on many autumns here
But with no pride,
For at the leaf-fall of each year
I also died.
This is last autumn, crisp and brown,
That my knees feel;
But through how many years sinks down
My sullen heel.
Andrew Young, Collected Poems (Rupert Hart-Davis 1960).
The poems by Sisson and Young in turn bring to mind the second stanza of Robert Frost's "In Hardwood Groves," which I have posted here before:
Before the leaves can mount again
To fill the trees with another shade,
They must go down past things coming up.
They must go down into the dark decayed.
Gilbert Spencer, "Burdens Farm with Melbury Beacon" (1943)
Well, one way or another, leaves -- and we -- reach the same destination. The World provides us with any number of symbols and metaphors and allegories for our journey towards this destination. If forced to choose among the options, I would opt for leafhood.
June Leaves and Autumn
Lush summer lit the trees to green;
But in the ditch hard by
Lay dying boughs some hand unseen
Had lopped when first with festal mien
They matched their mates on high.
It seemed a melancholy fate
That leaves but brought to birth so late
Should rust there, red and numb,
In quickened fall, while all their race
Still joyed aloft in pride of place
With store of days to come.
At autumn-end I fared that way,
And traced those boughs fore-hewn
Whose leaves, awaiting their decay
In slowly browning shades, still lay
Where they had lain in June
And now, no less embrowned and curst
Than if they had fallen with the first,
Nor known a morning more,
Lay there alongside, dun and sere,
Those that at my last wandering here
Had length of days in store.
Thomas Hardy, Winter Words in Various Moods and Metres (1928).
James Bateman, "Lulington Church" (1939)