Today is the autumn equinox. It marks the beginning of autumn, my favourite season. I look forward to cooler days and nights, cuddling up under a woolen blanket with a glass of red wine in one hand, and a book in the other. What books? Ghost stories, especially those written by M.R. James which have a lot of spooky atmosphere. His stories often take place in dark ancient cathedrals and haunted houses. When October comes around, I will post my favourite ghost stories.
In the meantime, here is a poem about the Japanese maple. In Japan, the autumn equinox is a public holiday (as is the spring equinox).
by Clive James
Your death, near now, is of an easy sort.
So slow a fading out brings no real pain.
Breath growing short
Is just uncomfortable. You feel the drain
Of energy, but thought and sight remain:
Enhanced, in fact. When did you ever see
So much sweet beauty as when fine rain falls
On that small tree
And saturates your brick back garden walls,
So many Amber Rooms and mirror halls?
Ever more lavish as the dusk descends
This glistening illuminates the air.
It never ends.
Whenever the rain comes it will be there,
Beyond my time, but now I take my share.
My daughter’s choice, the maple tree is new.
Come autumn and its leaves will turn to flame.
What I must do
Is live to see that. That will end the game
For me, though life continues all the same:
Filling the double doors to bathe my eyes,
A final flood of colours will live on
As my mind dies,
Burned by my vision of a world that shone
So brightly at the last, and then was gone.
Follow Father Johannes Schwarz on his pilgrimage along the Via Alpine Sacra starting May 15, 2018 by visiting his Instagram and YouTube sites.
Father Schwarz’s website, 4kmh.com says:
The The Via Alpina Sacra is the attempt at the longest pilgrimage route through the alps connecting 8 countries and more than 200 of the largest, most beautiful, oldest, highest, most significant Catholic shrines, churches and monasteries. Its length is about 2550 miles (4100km) with 600.000 vertical feet (180.000m) of positive elevation change (i.e. counting only ups). Its starting point is the patriarchal basilica of Aquileia (Italy). Its end point is one of the oldest monastic settlements in the West on the island of Saint-Honorat (410) off Cannes (France).
Today he posted this photo (see below) of the stunning Patriarchal Basilica of Aquileia on the northern end of the Adriatic Sea, near Grado, where he begins his pilgrimage.
It’s Vernal Equinox day. Spring is here. But I’m sitting at my desk sipping a cup of steaming hot tea, dressed in a thick sweater, my feet in thick wooden socks. This poem by W.S. Merwin captures the spirit of the day.
Cold Spring Morning by W.S. Merwin
At times it has seemed that when
I first came here it was an old self
I recognized in the silent walls
and the river far below
but the self has no age
as I knew even then and had known
for longer that I could remember
as the sky has no sky
except itself this white morning in May
with fog hiding the barns
that are empty now and hiding the mossed
limbs of gnarled walnut trees and he green
pastures unfurled along the slope
I know where they are and he birds
that are hidden in their own calls
in the cold morning
I was not born here I come and go
(From The Shadow of Sirius, a compilation of poems of W.S. Merwin, published in 2009)
The days grow shorter, the nights colder, as autumn deepens. Here are two poems about autumn.
Fall, Leaves, Fall by Emily Bronte
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.
Autumn by John Clare
I love the fitfull gusts that shakes
The casement all the day
And from the mossy elm tree takes
The faded leaf away
Twirling it by the window-pane
With thousand others down the lane
I love to see the shaking twig
Dance till the shut of eve
The sparrow on the cottage rig
Whose chirp would make believe
That spring was just now flirting by
In summers lap with flowers to lie
I love to see the cottage smoke
Curl upwards through the naked trees
The pigeons nestled round the coat
On dull November days like these
The cock upon the dung-hill crowing
The mill sails on the heath a-going
The feather from the ravens breast
Falls on the stubble lea
The acorns near the old crows nest
Fall pattering down the tree
The grunting pigs that wait for all
Scramble and hurry where they fall
Curl up on a sofa with a thick wool blanket, a good book and a glass of wine in front of a fire.