Alexander Averin

Monday, 20 October 2008


Dear Diary,

I’ll start with the cliché, get it over with, I say.

New England in the Fall.I would love to go there, I am sure I have past life memories of the place.

And now the Poem for Today.
A much-loved Welsh poet this one.

Poem in October

It was my thirtieth year to heaven
Woke to my hearing from harbour and neighbour wood
And the mussel pooled and the heron
Priested shore
The morning beckon
With water praying and call of seagull and rook
And the knock of sailing boats on the net webbed wall
Myself to set foot
That second In the still sleeping town and set forth.
My birthday began with the water-
Birds and the birds of the winged trees flying my name
Above the farms and the white horses
And I rose
In rainy autumn
And walked abroad in a shower of all my days.
High tide and the heron dived when I took the road
Over the border
And the gates
Of the town closed as the town awoke.
A springful of larks in a rolling
Cloud and the roadside bushes brimming with whistling
Blackbirds and the sun of October
On the hill's shoulder,
Here were fond climates and sweet singers suddenly
Come in the morning where I wandered and listened
To the rain wringing
Wind blow cold
In the wood faraway under me.
Pale rain over the dwindling harbour
And over the sea wet church the size of a snail
With its horns through mist and the castle
Brown as owls
But all the gardens
Of spring and summer were blooming in the tall tales
Beyond the border and under the lark full cloud.
There could I marvel
My birthday
Away but the weather turned around.
It turned away from the blithe country
And down the other air and the blue altered sky
Streamed again a wonder of summer
With apples
Pears and red currants
And I saw in the turning so clearly a child's
Forgotten mornings when he walked with his mother
Through the parables
Of sun light
And the legends of the green chapels
And the twice told fields of infancy
That his tears burned my cheeks and his heart moved in mine.
These were the woods the river and sea
Where a boy
In the listening
Summertime of the dead whispered the truth of his joy
To the trees and the stones and the fish in the tide.
And the mystery
Sang alive
Still in the water and singingbirds.
And there could I marvel my birthday
Away but the weather turned around. And the true
Joy of the long dead child sang burning
In the sun.
It was my thirtieth
Year to heaven stood there then in the summer noon
Though the town below lay leaved with October blood.
O may my heart's truth
Still be sung
On this high hill in a year's turning.

Dylan Thomas

In the new book I bought, that I have been raving about (see previous post) Damien Enright quotes from quite a few poets along the way (well he is Kerry-born) and one line he mentions is from Dylan Thomas: ‘Though the town below lay leaved with October blood’. Can’t you just see the red of the leaves and also of berries?


I still have not come up with any ideas on the subject of rain for my writing group homework. Only one day left.

This post should be called I just can’t be inspired to write about rain so will write about autumn instead. Quite by chance my Purplecoo homework is to write about the smells of autumn so perhaps I can kill two birds if I can sneak in a few rainy references along the way? Perhaps that will be my mission for the day? Of course I won’t restrict myself to smells; I may get carried away, I usually do (perhaps I should be I hear you say?).

I spend a lot of time sweeping leaves from the back yard; apart from all the other trees there is an ancient laburnum just outside the back door that seems to shed itself continuously and the leaves blow indoors as well so I am always brushing out from therel. But I love sweeping, making piles, putting them on the compost heap or making separate heaps and leaving them to rot down and make that magical substance called leaf mould, much-mentioned by ‘proper’ gardeners. When the leaves are wet they make a really manageable mush that is easier to sweep up and organise. But when they are dry it is also enjoyable and is one of those more satisfying chores. Some chores I enjoy, some I resist frantically or even dread. Autumn brings some of the more pleasant tasks.

Much as I adore winter trees, life without leaves would be very miserable because I so love autumn’s colours: the burnished golds, the reds, the yellows. The sun shining on them is a little taste of our heaven-to come, I am sure.

The season is specially suited to the lover of the keen-scented amongst us. My hearing may be deteriorating but my sense of smell is still acute (sign of a true witch don’t you know!). It is a season for the sensualist you could say. Autumn leaves have their special smell don’t they, bringing echoes of childhood memories and the scuffling of the leaves underfoot, I used to love that so. Bonfire and wood smoke is also redolent of autumn. Folk round here (including us) have started lighting log fires and it is such a joy to catch a whiff of the wood smoke, there is nothing else like it.

I pray every year for an Indian summer and so far this autumn has come up almost to scratch - not too much rain yet (there I’ve mentioned rain!) winds have been gentle with us so far and we have had a fair amount of sunshine.

Everything is ripe and ready for preservation. It’s an instinctive thing isn’t it? This gathering in, preserving, conserving. The gathering of the hedgerow harvest, the berries and the fruits of the trees. It really is the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness (what a glorious line). Here in the Welsh hills and mountains, our mists are a wondrous sight to behold as they hang either in the valley or atop a mountain. I have waxed lyrical about them so many times. One more won’t hurt.

The air, not yet chilly is cooler and fresher. A sense of newness in the air that is not just for the children, an excited anticipation of a New Term with its blank pages, new pens and clean, virginal notebooks.

And back in the garden I plant bulbs, something more to look forward to (see earlier post).

Always a fan of spicy, musky scents that have an autumnal note to them I wear patchouli again; it’s a love it or hate it perfume but one people always comment on.

Whoops I’ve digressed again.

Perhaps it is all about comfort and security, this all is safely gathered in feeling. (We could do with those feelings in this current economic climate). We have stocked up with logs too in case there is going to be a hard winter. The trees and hedgerows are heavily laden with berries which is meant to be a sign of a bad winter; we shall see. Watch this space.

One thing is for sure, Autumn has arrived and She brings with her a lull that is the between-time of Summer and Winter.

Between-whiles that we can while away at our leisure in deep thinking and contemplation, with planning for life’s new term and creating our very own interpretations.

Do you remember that childhood hymn?

Come ye thankful people come.

Come, ye thankful people, come, raise the song of harvest home;
All is safely gathered in, ere the winter storms begin.
God our Maker doth provide for our wants to be supplied;
Come to God’s own temple, come, raise the song of harvest home.
All the world is God’s own field, fruit unto His praise to yield;
Wheat and tares together sown unto joy or sorrow grown.
First the blade and then the ear, then the full corn shall appear;
Lord of harvest, grant that we wholesome grain and pure may be.
For the Lord our God shall come, and shall take His harvest home;
From His field shall in that day all offenses purge away,
Giving angels charge at last in the fire the tares to cast;
But the fruitful ears to store in His garner evermore.
Even so, Lord, quickly come, bring Thy final harvest home;
Gather Thou Thy people in, free from sorrow, free from sin,
There, forever purified, in Thy garner to abide;
Come, with all Thine angels come, raise the glorious harvest home

Bye for now,


Elizabethd said...

Cait, I cant imagine anything more lovely than New england in Fall, the colours must be amazing.
Lovely Dylan Thomas poem.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

What a lovely post! Old Dylan sure had a way with words didn't he? Just sublime. Thank you.

DJ Kirkby said...

That Dylan Thomas poem is beautiful. Looking forward to reading a post a bout rain and autum smells.

ChrisH said...

You are clearly very inspired by autumn, Cait, lovely post - as usual. Thank you for the book recommendation - I remember reading an extract from it some time ago so was pleased to be reminded. Strangely, Lane has written about it in her latest post too. Sounds like required reading!

Nan said...

Let's see, I found you from a comment on mountainear's blog. What a wonderful blog you have. I went searching for the Enright book, but it isn't available at book depository or amazon uk, but there are some used copies, so I may try to get one. It sounds so, so good. Have you read the Niall Williams/Christine Breen books? I'd be interested to know what you thought of them if you've read them. I am in New England and yes the fall is very, very beautiful. It is hard to capture in words or photographs. Luckily and happily I do like the trees even when bare. There's a view, an openness that isn't available the rest of the year. It is my husband's favorite time of year. And I think my past life memories are all over in your neck of the woods. :<) Maybe we should do a Cameron Diaz/Kate Winslet (The Holiday) switch.

willow said...

I love that you posted this beautiful poem on my birthday! And this lovely old hymn is one of my absolute favorites.

Ellie said...

Wonderful blog again, loads to peruse, will revisit poem. I love autumn too.

Pipany said...

That was just beautiful Cait. A perfect early morning read for me hidden away while the children eat breakfast. The sky is lightening with streaks of sunlight and the trees are gently shedding golden leaves in the breeze, all in perfect accordance with what you write.
It is my favourite of the seasons and, like you, I have deteriorating hearing but a strong sense of smell - also a witch! I would also love to visit New England in the Fall, love piling the leaves, planting bulbs, oh all of what you write! Could even write about the rain - that gentle rain that is almost like a spritzer misted onto your face while the sun sttill gleams darkly adn the sea deepens in colour to herald a storm...Ahh, off to more mundane matters now! xx

CAMILLA said...

Hello Cait,

Wonderful paintings you have posted for us, and I adore Dylan Thomas Poems.

Autumn is one my favourite seasons of the year, tree's with all their different shades of leaves.

Thank you so much for the info on the books Cait, I have quite a list now but look forward to reading all your recommendations. Lovely Hymn too Cait.