Autumn

There’s more to it than mists and mellow fruitfulness.

The American poet Adelaide Crapsey (1878-1914) is remembered for having left one important legacy: the “cinquain”, or five-line unrhymed stanza form, modelled on the Japanese haiku.

Crapsey edited only one collection of her own work during her lifetime. With 63 poems, Verse, as the volume was called, appeared in 1915, shortly after her early death.

Diagnosed with tuberculosis of the brain lining in 1911, Crapsey chose not to reveal her sickness to her family until its severity made it impossible to keep it a secret.

Given the sense of her own mortality, it’s no surprise that a number of her cinquains touch upon passing time and its metaphor: autumn. “November Night” is one of the finest.

“Listen…
With faint dry sound,
Like steps of passing ghosts,
The leaves, frost-crisp’d, break from the trees
And fall.”

And then there’s Emily Dickinson (1830-86), who needs no introduction and whose poem “Autumn” ends on a wry note of self-deprecating humour.

“The morns are meeker than they were,
The nuts are getting brown;
The berry’s cheek is plumper,
The rose is out of town.
The maple wears a gayer scarf,
The field a scarlet gown.
Lest I should be old-fashioned,
I’ll put a trinket on.”

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Published by

Philip Lee

Writer and musician who tries to join up the dots.

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