Autumn leaves

Mists and mellow fruitfulness

It’s November, and we are gradually saying goodbye to autumn, as we prepare ourselves for winter and nature’s lockdown, at the beginning of December.

We all know Keats’s sonnet To Autumn – at least the first verse:

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run.

Few poets have described the melancholy and beauty of this season better, as the cycle of growth moves from summer into winter. Harvests have been gathered in and fruit and vegetables stored – promises of richness ahead. It feels like the dying of the year as mists descend to blur the landscape, and green leaves shrivel and fall, to leave skeleton branches – naked to the elements.

The glorious colours remind us of the richness of nature even as trees shed their leaves and plants wither and die. We are saying goodbye to a part of nature’s circle of life: daylight hours shrink, bright, vibrant colours fade, and our past season of freedom to walk barefoot on beaches, lie in the sun, have picnics on the grass, diminishes. We anticipate a bleaker, colder, more isolated world wrapping round us.

As I kick my way through autumn leaves piled up by the wind or trample through carpets of leaves in parks and along paths, the voice of Nat King Cole singing Autumn Leaves fills my head, and I want to join in.

My favourite autumnal song though is the beautiful French song Les Feuilles Mortes – Autumn Leaves, written by Joseph Kosma, with lyrics by the poet Jacques Prevert. It is best heard in the original French and by Charles Trenet. However, Edith Piaf, singing in English and in French, captures the mood and emotions of lost love perfectly too. Les Feuilles Mortes 

A seasonal poem by my father Warren Richards, 1971, typed on his Remington Noiseless Portable Typewriter.   See blog Hands

“Notice that autumn is more the season of the soul than of nature.” Friedrich Nietzsche

“It’s the first day of autumn! A time of hot chocolatey mornings, and toasty marshmallow evenings, and, best of all, leaping into leaves!” Winnie the Pooh