November 6, 2015

The letter "K" today is offering us the fall poem, To Autumn, penned by Keats in 1819, only two years before his untimely death. This well loved poem can be found in almost every one of my poetry anthologies, and is regarded by critics as one of the most perfect short poems in the English language.  In a letter to his friend John Hamilton Reynolds written on 21 September, Keats described the impression the scene had made upon him and its influence on the poem's composition..."How beautiful the season is now – How fine the air. A temperate sharpness about it [...] I never lik'd stubble fields so much as now [...] Somehow a stubble plain looks warm – in the same way that some pictures look warm – this struck me so much in my Sunday's walk that I composed upon it."

I had fun setting this poem with a few family and vacation photos that capture so perfectly this season of mist and mellow fruitfulness...

New Hampshire lake

To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees, 
  And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core; 
Apple tree on Robert Frost's New Hampshire farm
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells 
  With a sweet kernel; to set budding more, 
 And still more, later flowers for the bees, 
Until they think warm days will never cease, For summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.

 Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store? 
  Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor, 
  Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep, 
  Drowsed with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
    Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers: 
From left, my great-grandfather Raines, my grandfather Badger and my cousin Byron Raines, 1955
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep 
  Steady thy laden head across a brook; 
  Or by a cider-press, with patient look,
    Thou watchest the last oozings, hours by hours.
My Uncle Lowell, my Aunt Hester and my Uncle Phil--three of my mother's siblings
 Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they? 
  Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,--
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day, 
  And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
My grandfather at his home in Indiana
 Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn 
  Among the river sallows, borne aloft
    Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies; 
 And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn; 
  Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
  The redbreast whistles from a garden-croft, 
    And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.
Taken from my bedroom window this morning--a goldfinch enjoying the last of my coneflowers!

 Have a wonderful weekend, and remember...
Today is a good day for a good day! 

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