Autumn Idleness

I heard this last fall on The Daily Poem podcast and listened again and again…. You can, too, if you like, here: “Autumn Idleness,” with comments by David Kern of Goldberry Studios. Note that the repetition of “lost hours” is not a typo.

It’s a beautiful description of a quiet woodland scene in autumn, contrasted with the poet’s indecision and restlessness. He inserts his own feelings into the drama of sunlight and dead leaves, thirst and rest. While in nature nothing is lost, and renewal always comes, it’s not easy for humans, with our conflicted souls, to receive the blessing.

AUTUMN IDLENESS

This sunlight shames November where he grieves
In dead red leaves, and will not let him shun
The day, though bough with bough be over-run.
But with a blessing every glade receives
High salutation; while from hillock-eaves
The deer gaze calling, dappled white and dun,
As if, foresters of old, the sun
Had marked them with the shade of forest-leaves.

Here dawn to-day unveiled her magic glass;
Here noon now gives the thirst and takes the dew;
Till eve bring rest when other good things pass.
And here the lost hours the lost hours renew
While I lead my shadow o’er the grass,
Nor know, for longing, that which I should do.

-Dante Gabriel Rossetti

5 thoughts on “Autumn Idleness

  1. It’s interesting. In my little parody about plant names, one reader especially liked the line, “the seed of a thought of a thought of its Name.” It occurred to me after his comment that Christina Rossetti’s “In the Bleak Midwinter” might have somehow, unconsciously, contributed to my line, since in her poem she included the lines “Snow had fallen/Snow on snow on snow.” Now I’m wondering if Dante’s ‘lost hours’ took inspiration from Christina’s poem — or vice-versa.

    Liked by 1 person

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