Autumn Song

In the woods along Bonaldo Creek


Fall, leaves, fall; die, flowers, away;
Lengthen night and shorten day.
Every leaf speaks bliss to me
Fluttering from the autumn tree.
I shall smile when wreaths of snow
Blossom where the rose should grow;
I shall sing when night’s decay
Ushers in a drearier day.
                                                               ~ Emily Brontë


Comments always are welcome.


65 thoughts on “Autumn Song

  1. I won’t smile when wreaths of snow blossom where the rose should grow. I’m done with wreaths of snow. Unfortunately, I will live with them for the next four months or so! (But I love the image!)

    1. Depends on where you live, doesn’t it? Here, in South Central Texas, in the Texas Hill Country, we’d be happy if we saw (any) snow. But I can really understand that it can be too much – like the summer heat hereabouts.

      1. Well, look at our great minds thinking alike, Pit. I just said almost exactly the same thing to Jeanie. Northerners get cabin fever in February or March; we get it in August and September, while we’re waiting to turn off the air conditioning and get back outdoors. As for snow — I’m taking the little bit we’ve already had as a sign that this might be the year for more. It might not, of course, but hope springs eternal.

        1. When the serious snow (8”!!) started in mid-November this year, my mind took the same track as yours; but I can’t say I view losing the gardens early and an extra month of shovelling with quite the same glee:/

    2. There’s no question snow can be a hassle; I’ll not be moving northward anytime soon. But our heat wears on us in much the same way during the summer months; it’s a good reminder that perfection’s hard to come by. Personally, I love the change of seasons, subtle though they are in this part of the world. I think most of us do; that’s why we look around so carefully to find little signs of change, like this leaf.

  2. A beautiful image and poem. There’s a movie about the Brontë sisters that maybe is interesting. It’s amazing to know that Emily Brontë died at the age of 30, and her sister Charlotte died at the age of 39.

    Autumn is certainly a new experience for people in the Caribbean. My first autumn in the U.S. was in the beautiful state of New Jersey. I had a college friend who invited me to her house over there, and I just couldn’t believe the colors.

    1. Their family life certainly was complicated, and beset by troubles. My first exposure to their writing was Jane Eyre. I read it several times, as did some of my friends. I can’t remember if we came upon it before or after Gone With the Wind hit the theaters, but we adored them both.

      Lucky you, to have had such a great first experience of autumn. I still haven’t made it to New England for ‘leaf-peeping,’ but it’s clearly one of those travel experiences that lives up to its reputation. The only problem would be the same one we have here: timing. There really isn’t any predicting when or if things are going to turn — but it’s a delight when they do.

      1. I always thought that autumn was pretty much the same along the northeastern coast of the US. There could be earlier snowfall than usual, but the beautiful autumn leaf display is pretty constant every year.

        1. That’s probably true, but if you’re trying to schedule a visit, a day too soon or two late can be frustrating. That can be true even here in Texas, where Lost Maples is only six hours away.

            1. Theoretically, yes. But tell it to multiple friends of mine who’ve been sadly disappointed after investing time and money in trips to see the glory! If you have only a week to visit New England, you may be lucky, or you may not — especially if you have to choose your vacation time, and then stick to it.

            2. I’m probably relying of memories, however, forests do have an internal, biological clock. I guess it’s just a matter of coinciding.

    1. Add a little light, and even a brown leaf can begin to glow.

      As for the Brontë family, I didn’t realize until I looked it up that Emily, Anne, and Branwell all died early, and within the space of eight months. Charlotte died about five years later. The entire family history is quite a story in itself.

      1. About an hour ago, my daughter and I were discussing the Bronte family. Perhaps discussing is the wrong word. Daughter was expounding on them, particularly Charlotte and Anne. One of Daughter’s favourite characters is Lucy Snowe from Villette. ( Just thought I would mention that in reference to the snow comments.) We also talked about Charlotte’s connection with New Zealand through her friendship and correspondence with Mary Taylor. The Taylor family became the Yorke family in Shirley.

  3. Brontés words and your image remind me of words I saw recently. Approximate quote…”Take joy in the snow. If you do not, you will have just as much snow but no joy.” The cycle of life is the nature of life. We can choose to embrace it or see it as woe.

    1. That’s a great quotation. I need to revise it just slightly and use it next summer when the heat begins to build.

      You’re exactly right about the cycles of life. We live so close to so many of them — like the days and the seasons — that we hardly notice them. Then, one day, we realize that their cycles are ours, as well, and autumn’s coming. I suspect that’s where a good many of us get a little queasy!

    1. Oh, no — don’t hurry it along. As soon as the days start getting longer, we’re that much closer to summer heat, and I’d prefer to enjoy some of that chill myself. It looks as though we’ll have another chance at it next week, though. More and more birds are coming in, so I suspect another system’s on the move.

      1. Good to watch the birds, they always know. I filled up the feeder amongst a flurry of wings yesterday. They could barely wait for me to rehang the feeder and were literally landing on my knuckles in their hurry.

        1. Despite being at a distance that made good photos impossible, I was lucky enough to see a bufflehead pair yesterday, and do have a photo for documentation. It was in a pond that’s close enough for an easy return, so I’m hoping they’ll settle in and give me another chance. It’s the first time I’ve seen them, although there are plenty of reports of them in the area.

  4. That leaf, almost a mummified hand reaching out, is a perfect illustration for the poem.
    And what an odd and interesting poem. On first reading, a celebration of bleakness, and almost a contradiction – – a beautiful expression of a morbid mind. “Lengthen night and shorten day” sounds like a curse, something MacBeth’s witches might mutter.
    “Night’s decay/Ushers in a drearier day” immediately reminded me of Edgar Allan Poe, “Fall of the House of Usher” and “Once upon a midnight dreary…” even though it’s pretty unlikely (but not impossible) Brontë ever read those pieces, published a few years before this poem, but I think not yet printed in England.
    It’s almost a reverse image of an Elizabethan sonnet “… thy eternal summer shall not fade,” and in so few words, incredibly effective. The gothic writing era is just fascinating, it always seems tragic to have her, possessing all that creativity and wonderful writing, unknown and trapped out on the moors. Undeniably beautiful and effective writing, dedicated to a very strange cause.
    And Linda, as the Victorians would say, I trust you will not take offense at my remarks! :)

    1. That leaf does seem to be beckoning, doesn’t it? I wonder what lies down the forest path it bids us walk?

      Given her mother’s early death and the death of three siblings in the space of only eight months, a little bleakness would be understandable if Brontë wrote it after those events. On the other hand, she has a way of approaching nature that I love for its absence of sentimentality. “Lengthen night and shorten day” could be heard as a curse, or it could be just one more descriptive statement piled on top of other descriptive statements: a way of saying, “Here it comes, ready or not!”

      On the other other hand, my favorite of all her poems has the same feel to it: mysterious and just vaguely threatening. Is it only the storm she’s writing about, or something more?

      The night is darkening round me,
      The wild winds coldly blow;
      But a tyrant spell has bound me,
      And I cannot, cannot go.

      The giant trees are bending
      Their bare boughs weighed with snow;
      The storm is fast descending,
      And yet I cannot go.

      Clouds beyond clouds above me,
      Wastes beyond wastes below;
      But nothing drear can move me;
      I will not, cannot go.

      Maybe those witches cast their spell, after all.

    1. That’s why it’s so nice to have these poets around, GP. When we can’t quite describe this or that, they do the job for us. It’s fun to rummage around and find these poems that too often seem forgotten.

    1. I’d be hard pressed to choose between spring and autumn. I do love almost everything about autumn, but of course there are those spring flowers… and the baby birds… and warmer temperatures in spring. It does make a difference where we experience a season, though. Your autumn surely is different from mine — and no autumn ever is just like ones in the past, for any of us. That’s part of the wonder of it all.

        1. It took me a few minutes to get my mind around this mashup of our New England and Australia. What a glorious area — I can’t wait for you to visit. I hope you can.

    1. There’s a line from the Book of Common Prayer that goes back to the 1300s (or earlier) and that puts it well: “In the midst of life we are in death.” We rarely stop to think about the fact that, day in and day out, our cells are dying and being regenerated. We’re quite literally not the people we used to be.

      1. Yes, exactly! It used to be that when someone was going on about death and dying I would think that from the moment of our birth we are one second closer to dying. Several decades on, its not quite so easy to be glib, but still a fact, nonetheless, that one needs to hang on to the reality of cellular death and regeneration just a little harder; )

        1. Some of the most amusing questions I’ve heard begin with the same phrase: “If you knew you were going to die…” We live our lives happily denying that little reality — and it’s probably for the best. A little contemplation here and there is good for the soul, not to mention our perspective on things, but obsessively contemplating death makes living impossible.

    1. I do enjoy being reminded of the ways our seasons, and the natural changes that come with them, mirror one another — or, perhaps better, complement one another. Somehow, I missed knowing that eucalyptus trees flower. Of course I knew that in some abstract way, but I just spent five minutes browsing images of the flowers; they’re as beautiful as their leaves.

      I hope you do get the rain you need through the coming summer — just as I hope we don’t get the hard freezes we don’t need.

    1. Well, of course! After four months, I suspect it’s cabin fever season, just as we start to go a little wacky around September. When it’s fun is when the seasons overlap. I’ve seen snow on lantana here, and I remember my mother’s tulips blooming while up to their little necks in snow. From what I remember, the best thing about early and late snow is that it melts pretty quickly.

  5. One of my old time favorite poets- Emily Bronte. I am so glad you posted this since I had forgotten all about her. The photo is really good- it reminds of things past just like the shriveled brown leaf is spent and in the past. Excellent photo analog for the poem.

    1. I love big displays of fall color, but I think single leaves can do a fine job of representing the season, too. All of our cypress trees have suddenly turned; one of these days, their needles will drop, and the yellow and orange leaves on the crepe myrtle will blow away, and those darned tallow tree leaves will fall, and — that will be it until spring.

      I’m glad to have reminded you of Emily Brontë. Like Emily Dickinson, she doesn’t get much publicity as a poet today, despite the movie about the sisters. I always hope for at least one good winter storm, so I can post her great poem about that.

  6. Oh the glorious golden translucent texture; crisp as autumn leaves beneath our feet.
    Such a lovely photo Linda! Echoing Marmalade Gypsy. (Being on the other side of the Gulf Stream, don’t think Emily Bronte had quite as much permanence of snow as we do; )

    1. In other words, geography may not be destiny, but it surely can shape our views. On the other hand, there clearly are poets, photographers, painters — even musicians — who relish the snow, and build more than snowmen with it!

  7. I can’t say I’m as happy as Emily when the cold breezes blow and winter’s chill covers the land! However, I will admit there’s something spectacular about *every* season, and perhaps it’s best to try to see beauty wherever we are, right?

  8. We awoke yesterday morning with the surrounding mountains and hills being covered with a dusting of snow. The trees were decorated beautifully in white. I’d hoped for it to drop another thousand feet, Linda, so I could do my annual winter post. Fall already cooperated with me. Mist dropped down to greet us this morning, encouraging trees to disappear into the clouds, fading away. Now we have blue skies, a beautiful day. Peggy and I are going to hike up the mountain in back of our house and then I’ll devote some time to trimming some fir trees. –Curt

    1. That sounds like a wonderful way to spend a day. It also sounds like Texas weather: at least, in terms of the variability. This is turning into one of those years where the fronts are closely spaced, so we’ve swung between warm and cold, with very few calm days in between. Still, it does allow for some nice sea fog, and if we can’t get snow, that will do just fine for a wintery feeling.

      1. Nothing wrong with sea fog, Linda. I can become quite appreciative, especially if a fog horn is added in. We woke up this morning with the temperature close to 20. Brrr.

    1. Her poetry appeals to me at least in part because it seems to reveal an acceptance of what is: there’s not much sentimentality here. And it did seem to be a perfect fit for the image. Autumn trees in their colors are splendid, but single leaves can appeal just as strongly.

    1. This is one of those images that surprised me a bit. The light falling on the leaf attracted my attention, but I didn’t expect to have those upraised edges so nice and crisp. It was my first experience of photographing in a forest, and one thing I learned is that it’s all about darkness and light in that world — much different than a prairie. I’m hoping to go back after leaf fall, just to see how different things are.

  9. We tend to forget there were three Brontë sisters. Charlote’s “Jane Eyre” and Emily’s “Wuthering Heights” steal all the thunder from poor Anne”s “The Tenant of Wildfell Hall.” That russet gold of the autumn leaves is one of my favorite colors. Ditto the oxblood red that certain oak trees’ leaves turn.

    1. And their poor brother gets hardly any attention at all. Because I came first to Jane Eyre, and was so enthralled with that novel, it took me a long time to pay attention to Emily, or her poetry, and I’ve not read anything by Anne. So many books, so little time.

      I love this color, too. There are so many beautiful colors in autumn. Our cypress trees were expecially pretty this year, but their rust-colored needles are falling now, and I expect by this weekend they’ll give way to the winds of our next front.

  10. A beautiful image of golden light in the dark and a wonderful illustration for Emily’s poem. I don’t know the context of this quote by John Ruskin but I think Emily Bronte may be saying something along the same lines: Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather.
    Read more at:

    1. I agree that Ruskin’s point is generally the same as Brontë’s. In the process of trying (without success) to track down the source of the Ruskin quotation, I found an amusing variant: “There’s no such thing as bad weather; there are only bad clothes.” Anyone who’s headed off on vacation and had the weather change in unexpected ways understands that reality. I’ve purchased a sweatshirt or two in my life for just that reason.

      1. And it was only recently that I got caught out with a weather change. I was delayed in a very cold airport. I was dressed for summer. I was so chilled I had to spend a fortune on warm clothing at an airport shop. The clothing cost me almost as much as my airfare. :D

        1. Everyone who lives in Houston knows to carry a sweater in summer. It may be a hundred degrees outside, but every movie theater, restaurant, bar, and shop is over-air-conditioned, and you’ll freeze without a little extra protection.

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