Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Oh to be in England (and other spontaneous poetic outbursts) that autumn's there,
and whoever wakes in England,
sees some morning, unaware,
that the lowest branch on the brushwood sheaf,
round the elm tree bole is without leaf,
and the chaffinch is hiding
from the orchard bough,
in England,

Yes, sorry, a spontaneous outburst of poorly-adapted Browning.

And actually, it's pretty amazing being in BC in the autumn. The leaves have mostly fallen, but they have been spectacular, the wind and rain have been mighty and right now, the sun is shining and filling the house with a last hurrah.
There are some pumpkins still lying in the fields, even after Hallowe'en, the pumpkin fields are fun to see, very seasonal.
Tomorrow is a Bank Holiday, being Remembrance Day.

In the Autumn, I am given to random bouts, not of melancholy, but of Romantic Poets, thus a quick burst of Shelley.

"O Wild, West Wind, thou breath of Autumn's being,
thou from whose unseen presence the leaves, dead are driven,
Like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing.
Yellow and black and pale and hectic red,
Pestilence-stricken multitudes,
O thou who chariotest to their dark, wintry bed,
The wingèd seeds,
Where they lie, cold and low, each like a corpse within its grave,
Until thine azure sister of the Spring shall blow her clarion o'er the dreaming earth,
And fill, (driving sweet buds like flocks to feed in air),
With living hues and odours, plain and hill.

Oh, wild Spirit which art moving everywhere,
Destroyer and Preserver, hear, O, hear.

So, the Romantics, the Wordsmiths at Gorsemere. Bunch of chaps in frilly shirts, or something more useful?
Well, at first sniff, not really. The Romantics were a sort of antidote to the the grim reality of the Industrial Revolution, they believed that they had some godly duty - through their god-given gift of being able to write poetry - to bring to mere mortals, the beauty of the natural world. And often they did a damn fine job of it, so long as you don't mind the occasional heavy-handed metaphor, or overly-vivid imagery.

So is there an up side?
Well, yes, I think so. There is something very uplifting about the natural world, as one tramps across fields, the wind in one's hair and so forth, and the poetry of the Romantics can be very stirring, even spiritual, which, I suppose, was what they claimed for their art.

Of course, my own higher education was in French, and what came along as an antidote to the French Romantics, were a bunch of poets who concentrated on the seamier side of life, and generally through some kind of drug-induced stupor.
I always found Baudelaire's 'Fleurs du Mal' (the Flowers of Evil) really quite compelling in its association of sensuality with death and decay.
Unlike the Romantics, who interpreted the heavenly because we couldn't, Baudelaire took opium so that we didn't have to.

Rather disturbingly, I always felt he looked a tad like Hitler.

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