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.
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
Nothing could be more pleasing than to have rain in the night and morning, followed by sunshine and blue skies. The cold air smells delicious.
I walked in the garden to cut zinnias and pick up pineapple guavas from the ground. I cleaned all the redwood twigs out of the fountain, which has been turned off for a couple of months, and filled it from the hose. It’s now bubbling and the garden sounds normal once more.
There have been years when not one guava got ripe, but this year I’ve had many, and big ones. Usually I just scoop with a spoon out of one at a time, but yesterday I took all the flesh from ten or so into a bowl, and ate the lot with cream.
November is here!
THE REGION NOVEMBER
It is hard to hear the north wind again,
And to watch the treetops, as they sway.
They sway, deeply and loudly, in an effort,
So much less than feeling, so much less than speech,
Saying and saying, the way things say
On the level of that which is not yet knowledge:
A revelation not yet intended.
It is like a critic of God, the world
And human nature, pensively seated
On the waste throne of his own wilderness.
Deeplier, deeplier, loudlier, loudlier,
The trees are swaying, swaying, swaying.
The thinnest yellow light of November is more warming and exhilarating than any wine they tell of. The mite which November contributes becomes equal in value to the bounty of July.
-Henry David Thoreau