Listening to Silence

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I saw old Autumn in the misty morn
stand shadowless like silence,
listening to silence, for no lonely bird would sing
Into his hollow ear from woods forlorn,
Nor lowly hedge nor solitary thorn;—
Shaking his languid locks all dewy bright
With tangled gossamer that fell by night,
Pearling his coronet of golden corn. 

But here the Autumn melancholy dwells,
And sighs her tearful spells
Amongst the sunless shadows of the plain.
Alone, alone,
Upon a mossy stone,
She sits and reckons up the dead and gone
With the last leaves for a love-rosary,
Whilst all the wither’d world looks drearily,
Like a dim picture of the drownèd past
In the hush’d mind’s mysterious far away,
Doubtful what ghostly thing will steal the last
Into that distance, gray upon the gray.
~Thomas Hood from “Autumn”

 

These cooling mornings are so silent~
no bird song
the dogs still asleep
no cows bellowing
only the sound of a horse
leaning heavy on a barn wall.

The gray on gray of this morning
interrupted by the painting of sky and leaf,
silence to the ear
is a symphony for the eye.

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Late Revelers at Dawn

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Bending above the spicy woods which blaze,
Arch skies so blue they flash, and hold the sun
Immeasurably far; the waters run
Too slow, so freighted are the river-ways
With gold of elms and birches from the maze
Of forests. Chestnuts, clicking one by one,
Escape from satin burs; her fringes done,
The gentian spreads them out in sunny days,
And, like late revelers at dawn, the chance
Of one sweet, mad, last hour, all things assail,
And conquering, flush and spin; while, to enhance
The spell, by sunset door, wrapped in a veil
Of red and purple mists, the summer, pale,
Steals back alone for one more song and dance.
~Helen Hunt Jackson “October”

 

Summer is stretching long this fall,
with warm temperatures both day and night,
grass growing like spring
bushes blooming confused six months off
sun rises lit by flame that lick the sky.

I am eager for one more song and dance,
one more sweet hour,
each dawn bringing renewed revelry.

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A Reason None of Us Knows

 

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…I have been younger in October
than in all the months of spring
walnut and may leaves the color
of shoulders at the end of summer
a month that has been to the mountain
and become light there
the long grass lies pointing uphill
even in death for a reason
that none of us knows…

my love is for lightness
of touch foot feather
the day is yet one more yellow leaf
and without turning I kiss the light
by an old well on the last of the month
gathering wild rose hips
in the sun
~W. S. Merwin from “The Love of October” from Migration

 

This warm wind gusts through shedding branches
stripping them bare
and carrying the leaves yards
far away, to a diverse gathering
they have never known:
chestnut, cherry, birch, walnut, apple,
maple, parrotia, pear, oak, poplar
suddenly sharing the same fate and grave,
each wearing a color of its own,
soon to blend with the others
as all slowly melt to brown.

There is lightness in the letting go,
for reasons none of us knows.

 

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Pressed to Sweetness

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Lord: it is time.
The huge summer has gone by.
Now overlap the sundials with your shadows,
and on the meadows let the wind go free.

Command the fruits to swell on tree and vine;
grant them a few more warm transparent days,
urge them on to fulfillment then, and press
the final sweetness into the heavy wine.
~Rainer Maria Rilke from Autumn Day

 

In these sweet mellow October days,
bushes gone dormant in the drought of summer
are awakening, confused and blooming six months early.
I feel like breaking into blossom too,
eagerly awaiting each sunrise
as it spills all over me
like an elixir.

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The Brows of Morning

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“The narrow bud opens her beauties to
The sun, and love runs in her thrilling veins;
Blossoms hang round the brows of Morning, and
Flourish down the bright cheek of modest Eve,
Till clust’ring Summer breaks forth into singing,
And feather’d clouds strew flowers round her head.

“The spirits of the air live on the smells
Of fruit; and Joy, with pinions light, roves round
The gardens, or sits singing in the trees.”
Thus sang the jolly Autumn as he sat;
Then rose, girded himself, and o’er the bleak
Hills fled from our sight; but left his golden load.
~William Blake from “To Autumn”

 

For northwest native webfoots like myself, this has been an atypically tough summer: no rain, full-out heat and humidity, melting glaciers, dust, drought, fires, smoke and water restrictions.  When the string of three plus months of overwhelming sun finally broke in a devastating wind and rainstorm this past weekend, I for one celebrated, despite no power and no water for a couple of days.  Since then the rain has poured and snow has fallen on bare rock in the mountains.  This morning the fog returned with moisture rising from spider-webbed soppy ground to meet the roselight of the dawn.

Praise God this Morning for a blissful relief
found in furrowed brows of Morning,
of foggy feather’d clouds;
we move from clust’ring Summer
to the golden load of jolly Autumn.

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Morning By Morning New Mercies I See

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Summer and winter and springtime and harvest,
sun, moon and stars in their courses above
join with all nature in manifold witness
to thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.
~Thomas Chisholm “Great is Thy Faithfulness”

Same scene of our barn weathervane,
through the years
through the seasons
through the changes

of children growing up
of children flying away
of our heads getting grayer
our steps now slower.

Morning by morning
this manifold witness
to such steadfast love
to infinite mercies
to unending faithfulness.

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Hallowing Fire

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…one of man’s purposes is to assist God in the work of “hallowing” the things of Creation.
By a tremendous heave of the spirit,
the devout man frees the divine sparks trapped in the mute things of time;
he uplifts the forms and moments of creation,
bearing them aloft into the rare air
and hallowing fire in which all clays must shatter and burst.

~Annie Dillard from Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

 

The setting sun,
trapped and swallowed by a seed puff ball last night,
was released aloft this morning to rise unfettered
hallowed and holy.

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