Thursday, November 10, 2011

That Time of Year

Yes, very high brow. I take my title today from Shakespeare. But not for any real reason. Not because my message today has to do with death and dying or even the dying of the light. But, of course, it does. This poem is in my mind or, at least, the first two lines. I love the hesitation of "When yellow leaves, or few, or none, do hang." I love the commas, maybe there are some leaves, maybe none. You know, fall. Perhaps it is my impending birthday (43!!) perhaps the fact that I have been reading Gilead and also "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock."
Perhaps it is just that literature, in general, is obsessed with death and dying. Perhaps because I have been working on a story that is about death and grief. Why? Why would I choose such a dark subject? Well, I have to say it chose me, the voice, the subject. It's the only time I've ever cried while writing fiction. Am I crazy?
But really when I say "That Time of Year" what I mean is that we all, all of us, students, teachers, parents, children, drivers, passengers, walkers, runners, all of us are TIRED. We just want it to end. "IT" is various things: school, this day, this week, this hour, this semester, this round of grading, this session, this conversation, this writing assignment, this, this, IT.
I should also note, with sadness, that fall is about the earth, plants, many things, dying. The light also. And a colleague passed away last week. So perhaps this post is about death after all.
And I'll end with this: "Rage, rage against the dying of the light."


radagast said...

Beautifully said, DW. Yes, we want various ITs to end: the semester, the cold, the "dark times." But most of us most of the time don't want the biggest IT to end, for us or the ones we love. Life, I mean. We will rage against that, if nothing else. And, by god, I'll take all dares when it comes to the eating of peaches!

Julie said...

You thoughts reminded me of a poem my mom used to recite to me when I was little and then she taught it to tren when he was little too. He had it memorized and was able to recite it at her funeral. It was very touching and beautiful and very significant given the moment. Sometimes we don't want to let them (It) go. Can't we stay like this forever, nothing changing? Sometimes we have to have a little dark in our life to enjoy the light.
Here is the poem, though not very high brow, but sweet given the subject: (Sorry to hear about your friend). “I’ll tell you how the leaves came down,”
The great tree to his children said,
“You’re getting sleepy, Yellow and Brown,
Yes, very sleepy, little Red.
It is quite time to go to bed.”

“Ah!” begged each silly, pouting leaf,
“Let us a little longer stay;
Dear Father Tree, behold our grief;
Tis such a very pleasant day
We do not want to go away.”

So, for just one more merry day
To the great tree the leaflets clung,
Frolicked and danced, and had their way,
Upon the autumn breezes swung,
Whispering all their sports among,–

“Perhaps the great tree will forget,
And let us stay until the spring,
If we all beg, and coax, and fret.”
But the great tree did no such thing;
He smiled to hear their whispering.

“Come, children, all to bed,” he cried;
And ere the leaves could urge their prayer,
He shook his head, and far and wide,
Fluttering and rustling everywhere,
Down sped the leaflets through the air.

I saw them; on the ground they lay,
Golden and red, a huddled swarm,
Waiting till one from far away,
White bedclothes heaped upon her arm,
Should come to wrap them safe and warm.

The great bare tree looked down and smiled,
“Good-night, dear little leaves,” he said.
And from below each sleepy child
Replied, “Good-night,” and murmured,
“It is so nice to go to bed!”
by Susan Coolidge.

Lisa B. said...

Bare ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.

thanks for bringing this poem to the surface again--I love it, and it rhymes with the season.