Fall By Any Other Name


September (Photo credit: Helgi Halldórsson/Freddi)

This  just as easily describes October as September, at least in my neck of the woods:

 It is now or never. Actually, it is now, or wait for a year. It is the last week in September and if I am to use the poem, aptly called “September Poem” by Helen Hunt Jackson, I had better get to it. Hard to believe it is the end of September, with October banging on the door. This is my favourite time of year, though spoiled for many as the harbinger to winter, it is a time those of us not prone to look beyond our noses, enjoy.

 Many of the things mentioned in Ms. Jackson’s poetic tribute to September are felt in October. So for your reading pleasure, and without much further ado, I present “September Poem”:

The golden rod is yellow; the corn is turning brown
The trees in apple orchards–with fruit are bending down;
The gentian’s bluest fringes are curling in the sun;
In dusty pods the milkweed–its hidden silk has spun;
The sedges flaunt their harvest in every meadow nook,
And asters by the brookside make asters in the brook;
From dewy lanes at morning the grapes’ sweet odour rise;
At noon the roads all flutter with yellow butterflies—
By all these lovely tokens, September days are here,
With summer’s best of weather, and autumn’s best of cheer.

Helen Hunt Jackson

Helen Hunt Jackson (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 Admit it, does this poem, (if you are of a certain age) not take you back to the days of grammar school when we were forced to learn a certain number of lines of poetry in order to pass our language course. I remember sitting in at recess and noon hours when I was in grade four learning line upon line of poetry, to be recited to the teacher before being allowed to go outside. I hated memorizing poetry—but things that rhymed were much easier than prose poems. If I had been acquainted with Ms. Jackson, this would have been a poem I would have chosen to memorize—although for the life of me, I do not know what a gentian is, or what sedges are, but that can be remedied by a quick Google.

 Okay, I am back—gentians are a pretty flower-like plant, and sedges are a kind of grass (no, landscaping is obviously not my calling). I guess from the context of the poem, you get that idea, but I just wanted to make sure. I like the feeling the poem conjures, whether it is about September or not does not matter, it “feels” like a fall or “sweater weather” poem.

 Born in 1831 in Massachusetts, Helen Hunt Jackson lived until 1885 and was described as “the most brilliant, impetuous and thoroughly individual woman of her time”. If even one of those little descriptions were allotted to me, I would be happy.

 I did take a little licence with her poem, as it is really a five stanza, four line poem, but somehow I do not think this thoroughly individual woman would mind. Friends with Emily Dickinson, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Oliver Wendell Holmes, she had bigger fish to contend  with in her lifetime than this wretched but admiring columnist.

 We still have at least six weeks of “autumn cheer” ahead of us (keep your fingers crossed), and though late fall does not boast all the “lovely tokens” of September days, we can keep them vividly in mind during November’s greyness and December’s snow.

Published in: on October 2, 2011 at 6:38 pm  Leave a Comment  
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