Saturday, October 1, 2011

"Fall, Leaves, Fall"

The Brontes are not usually thought of as a happy-go-lucky bunch.  Bleak, empty Yorkshire moors and tragedy come to mind, of course.  I suppose that the following untitled poem by Emily Bronte fits the stereotypical image of the family.  On the other hand, it may appeal to those of us who are fond of autumn, with all of its mixed messages.

Fall, leaves, fall; die, flowers, away;
Lengthen night and shorten day;
Every leaf speaks bliss to me,
Fluttering from the autumn tree.
I shall smile when wreaths of snow
Blossom where the rose should grow;
I shall sing when night's decay
Ushers in a drearier day.

Clement Shorter (editor), The Complete Poems of Emily Bronte (1908).

                                Trevor Makinson, "Street Scene" (1948)

Perhaps 20 or so years before Emily Bronte wrote her poem, on the other side of the world a Japanese Zen monk also wrote of autumn.

The wind has brought
   enough fallen leaves
To make a fire.

Ryokan (translated by John Stevens), in One Robe, One Bowl: The Zen Poetry of Ryokan (1977).

                                   A. Y. Jackson, "October Evening" (1934)

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