Each year, as the days shorten and we move into October, I pick up my well-thumbed copy of Verlaine. I always flip to the same poem, a few stanzas thrown on a page, simply written but so evocatively capturing the essence of what we all feel as autumn begins.
The poem is Chanson d’automne (Autumn Song), an ode to nostalgia expressed with an economy of words, as only true wordsmiths are wont to do :
With long sobs
Wound my heart…
Many are those who have made similar attempts. Quebec’s very own Nelligan, for example – who finishes his Tarantelle d’automne (Autumn Tarantella) with a nod to Verlaine and another evocative line on the passage of time :
Ah! See there on time’s steep hillside,
My fallen illusions cut and dried,
All cut and dried!
Or perhaps the nod was to Ronsard and his delicious
‘My sweet, let us go and see if the rose…’
No need to descend into pathos – there’s also Thédore de Banville and his stirring version of a Dionysian fall in L’Automne (Fall) :
Welcome, red autumn,
Hurry in your rich apparel,
Set ablaze the ruby hillside
That the grapevine embellishes and adorns.
In short, to each his own.
We were thinking of the upcoming Thanksgiving weekend as we planned this week’s basket – a happy mix of squash, root vegetables and leafy greens to accompany the proverbial turkey.
We look forward to seeing you again.