Saturday, September 19, 2009


One of the things I love about having a blog is that it's my own diary. Looking back I can clock my cycles.

And so I can take some comfort from the certainty that I always feel the same way round about this time of year (though this year the slightly morose self-introspection appears to have come some 10 days earlier than usual).

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Green And Golden-Keats And Thomas

SEASON of mists and mellow fruitfulness!
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun

I'm sometimes at a loss to decide who, for me, best captures the mood of autumn.

Dylan Thomas looked at the world as if it had just been created, constantly comparing the imagery of autumn with spring. He opens his Collected Poems with a prologue at sunset—at the closing of a day and year and, in the end, his own life: “This day winding down now / At God speeded summer’s end.”

However he never more marked a contrast between the two seasons (perhaps) than in "Fern Hill".


Now as I was young and easy under the apple boughs
About the lilting house and happy as the grass was green,
The night above the dingle starry,
Time let me hail and climb
Golden in the heydays of his eyes,
And honoured among wagons I was prince of the apple towns
And once below a time I lordly had the trees and leaves
Trail with daisies and barley
Down the rivers of the windfall light.

And as I was green and carefree, famous among the barns
About the happy yard and singing as the farm was home,
In the sun that is young once only,
Time let me play and be
Golden in the mercy of his means,
And green and golden I was huntsman and herdsman, the calves
Sang to my horn, the foxes on the hills barked clear and cold,
And the sabbath rang slowly
In the pebbles of the holy streams.

All the sun long it was running, it was lovely, the hay
Fields high as the house, the tunes from the chimneys, it was air
And playing, lovely and watery
And fire green as grass.
And nightly under the simple stars
As I rode to sleep the owls were bearing the farm away,
All the moon long I heard, blessed among stables, the nightjars
Flying with the ricks, and the horses
Flashing into the dark.

And then to awake, and the farm, like a wanderer white
With the dew, come back, the cock on his shoulder: it was all
Shining, it was Adam and maiden,
The sky gathered again
And the sun grew round that very day.
So it must have been after the birth of the simple light
In the first, spinning place, the spellbound horses walking warm
Out of the whinnying green stable
On to the fields of praise.

And honoured among foxes and pheasants by the gay house
Under the new made clouds and happy as the heart was long,
In the sun born over and over,
I ran my heedless ways,
My wishes raced through the house high hay
And nothing I cared, at my sky blue trades, that time allows
In all his tuneful turning so few and such morning songs
Before the children green and golden
Follow him out of grace.

Nothing I cared, in the lamb white days, that time would take me
Up to the swallow thronged loft by the shadow of my hand,
In the moon that is always rising,
Nor that riding to sleep
I should hear him fly with the high fields
And wake to the farm forever fled from the childless land.
Oh as I was young and easy in the mercy of his means,
Time held me green and dying
Though I sang in my chains like the sea.
Then we have Keats, and his ode, To Autumn:
Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.


Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep,
Drows’d with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.


Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,--
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

Personally it's for you to decide. But I have a favourite. I read it at the service to celebrate my Nana's life. For me she was always spring, even in her autumn (which I hardly ever noticed).

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Season Of Mists And Mellow Fruitfulness

It certainly seemed that way. Here is 7.30am on Saturday morning outside my room at Robinson College, Cambridge.

As you'll see, Robinson is fashioned out of red bricks, so I figured that was fitting enough for my "going-up" to Cambridge, given my very working class roots.

You may well wonder why I was up at 7.30am after the night before?

Well, truthfully for me there was no night before. The academy was poorly attended. The atmosphere was doom and gloom, under the uncertainty of redundancies (which seem pretty certain if you ask me). It didn't help that the first speaker was giving us a (rather pessimistic) overview of the commercial real estate/property finance market.

I didn't need to hear yet again that this was probably the end of the beginning rather than the beginning of the end.

Our German colleagues felt happened upon that they should have to get up at 4am to make it to Cambridge for a 12.30pm start, so most of them didn't bother coming.

So, it was anything but lively, hence my retiring to bed at 10.30am. I was waiting with anxiety for the Today R4 programme which starts an hour later on Saturday.

Which is why you find me up at 7.30am.

So, does one go up or go down to Cambridge? I better ponder that. No doubt a viewing of Brideshead Revisited will clarify.

On which subject, hmmm I wonder, is Ben Whishaw gay?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Weather, We're Having!

September is hardly my favourite month.

As a child it was back to school (well, actually in Scotland that was August). So, it was the month you were fed up with being back to school already, your only comfort looking forward to the October holiday to come.

As an adult, it's the month when the nights draw in and the mornings become ever shorter. The air is noticeably chillier; soon the central heating will need to be switched on.

It's when the days on the beach and by the pool, in the heat, feel as far away as the hot summer destinations themselves...

Xfe is halfway through his 6 week trip on the other side of the world. This weekend, my first at home since he left, found me rattling around an empty flat; finding housework to do just to keep me busy, to put off the moment I sat down and missed not having him sitting down beside me, under his blanket.
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Wonder why I didn't feel it in 2007?

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