Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Longing for a Keatsian Autumn--or at Least, a Cold Front

There is talk of a cold front coming through.  We have never really left our summer weather behind us, but in the past few days, it's turned uncomfortably hot and humid.  For a few weeks before that, it was hot and dry and breezy, which wasn't bad, but it still wasn't Autumn.

It's hard to believe that just a week ago, the pumpkin truck was headed our way.  And Monday, I cleaned the first of the rotten pumpkins off the porch.  They didn't even make it one week.

Let me correct that:  2 of them didn't make it a week.  I still have 4 left.

Happily, I have a picture, pre-rot:

And at least the proceeds go to a good cause.  I enjoyed the pumpkins while I had them, because I was sure they wouldn't last long.  It's a good lesson.

I've been thinking about my past longings for Autumn.  I used to wait until the first cooler weather to bake pumpkin bread.  Now, I just turn down the AC and bake bread.

This time of year, my thoughts turn to John Keats.  His poem, "To Autumn," is one of the most perfect autumn poems ever.  Go here to read it.

For those of you looking for a teaching/writing idea, here are some. You could have students write about the autumnal elements that Keats includes and the figurative language that he uses. You could have students write about the autumnal elements that Keats leaves out. You could have them research what Autumn would have been like as Keats experienced it. You could show the movie Bright Star and have them compare the experience of Autumn as a visual experience and the experience of Autumn as a reading experience. You could have students write their own poems and require that they avoid all overused autumnal elements: can they write an autumnal poem with no hay rides, no pumpkins, no colored leaves?
Here's a poem that I wrote years ago, after teaching the Keats poem and yearning for a more autumnal October:

Longing for a Keatsian Autumn

What I wouldn’t give for a season of mists and mellow fruitfulness.
Instead we suffer fierce heat and a flowering
fecundity that threatens to pull our thatch-eves down.
West winds bring us nothing but a pall
of heavy humidity, a harvest of hurricanes.

I want to sing songs of other seasons
than this sweat soaked summer.
I want to be wooed by weather unSouthern.

I tire of this moist mouthed peninsula,
seasonless, cursed landscape of mangroves and swamp grass
that mocks our efforts to pretend that the Southernmost
tip of America has seasons other than warm and hot.

1 comment:

Wendy said...

I often thought about the Autumn we long for when teaching Brit Lit to 17-year-olds who'd never left Southern California. It's not that I think they have to experience it to relate to what's within the poetry, but it's different when they've only ever seen it on TV or in books.