In seeing the birth of autumn last month, which Toronto provided abruptly, I’m reminded of our detachment from this season. A melancholy which sees itself relapse each year. Autumn’s brief. Unfairly treated, too, we note its passage mostly in an anxious anticipation of winter’s misery. Summer is never long enough to recover from the wounds inflicted by the past winter. Autumn arrived sooner last year, and this year I was chasing it. My friends did not adore its arrival this year, and they wanted the scorch of summer to last longer. But burning below the brutal blisters of September, I longed for October. Having read poetry, I’m reminded of the marvel autumn should deservedly receive. Poets need to romanticise autumn– its current witnesses – us – lose the beauty of the transience between the shrewd summer and the despairing winter.
John Keats, a poet I’ve long admired, only reclaims my adoration for him when scripting autumn in his works. He finds himself “[d]rows’d with the fume of poppies” amidst the “winnowing wind” in his poem “To Autumn.” He is concise in his romanticisation of the season, one which I related to in fall’s introductory week this year. While the sun’s able to cast its light on multicoloured trees turning many colours, the wind’s “winnowing,” relaxed and gentle in its treatment of the individuals that had been walking on the street. I’ve barely expressed exhaustion in my walks lately and it’s a relieving departure from the sweat and the itchiness, which were summer’s provisions. Inspired by Keats, I tried to romanticise the season too. Forcing myself to write poems about the beds of maples I found on my walks, I tried to print my ode to autumn. Leaving myself to relish reading his poetry instead infused me with a greater adoration for the season. While not intoxicated by “the fume of poppies” as he was, the perfume of the bouquet of flowers present on the quads assumed a sincerity in enticing me. A moment of wonder I refused to avoid.
Poets seem to agree on the consensus which titles autumn a season of completion. Rainer Maria Rilke in his “Day in Autumn” yearns for a “coax[ing]” of the “final fruits” to “roundness,” for autumn to achieve a fulfilment in ripening them. Indeed ‘fruitful,’ autumn eliminates the elements of sourness around. Autumn extended that affection to me this October when I found myself exhausted. Back home in India, I never saw autumn the way these poets expressed it. Autumn was a myth. Summer lasted till December, and winter greeted us briefly till mid-January. Toronto last year gave life to these poems, a surprise I never anticipated. I saw the “winnowing” wind Keats saw too. It was relaxed when it met me as well. It seems a blur, because I found myself lost in the piles of maples on the street. I forgot the day it ended, and cannot seem to recall the day it began. But only the months post-August would give autumn again. And I sat beside my calendar, crossing each day till the endless wait to August elapsed. I greeted autumn with bitterness this year. Toronto deprived me of it for longer and only provided a mediocre season. The trees were barely colourful, and they struggled to rescue me from all my burdens. In envying my welcoming reception of autumn last year, I’ve begun seeing today’s autumn as a foe. I want to be the audience to its “warmer light” and the “final fruits” which Rilke has supposedly found, but I struggle to scavenge.
Autumn’s languid. It invites a brooding gloom on occasion, and reminds of the grey winters soon to bring. Addressing October, Robert Frost in his poem October captures a similar sentiment: wanting the month to “[b]egin the hours of this day slow,” requesting an escape from the metropolitan mayhem. Toronto, in all its bustling energy only instigates my longing to plead for a similar solace. Autumn provides damp roads reeking of the drizzles under grey skies akin to winter, and distracts with warmer winds beside the decorated trees; but by focussing on the former, we’re only miserable. You see a depreciation in the manner we address autumn today. We’re not letting it “[b]eguile us in the way [it] know[s].” Even in my conversations with friends, I’ve only heard of autumn as a momentary passing. They didn’t seem “beguile[d]” by it, and in my glares at the fallen maples I was left aloof. The season in which he asks to “[e]nchant the land with amethyst,” only seems to stand as a medium in which I’m forced to express my exasperation from exams. Turning away from the pages in Middle English for my course and to the pages engulfed with Frost’s charismatic writing, I’m reminded of autumn’s true image; not befallen by the anxiety of an overwhelm.
Even on the transcending week between September and October when the wind’s confusing, indecisive, autumn’s there to revive the enchant for a momentary composure. I know I’m to return to hectic days as fall descends, and there won’t be a radiance in the trees to distract. Frost reminds me in his poem “Nothing Gold Can Stay” that autumn’s temporary: “Nothing gold can stay” when “dawn goes down to day”. The “dawn” is an inevitably regular occurrence, and hence, as time passes so will autumn. I love Frost, especially in his image of calling autumn a season of “gold”. Regal and elegant. A deserving affiliation for autumn, and in being so its departure only evokes a greater poignancy. With November recently beginning, bidding October adieu evoked an aching disbelief – and I clung to denial. I witnessed autumn in its complete activation only last year. In revisiting the decaying twigs with a few leaves left still today, I seem to require the excellence of these poets’ works to reconcile with my inaugural view. On my sill now, I will proceed to sit still, knowing autumn’s soon to escape these parks, quads and streets. While I’ll enjoy the company of December’s snow with my coffee briefly, my anticipation is anxious of the bitterness in the “solemn air” that Robert Bridges writes about in London Snow.