Although it’s still summer, the first of September feels like a turning of the year, a return to school and schedules, and a farewell to cicadas and the least possible clothing. In parting I celebrate the day with a watercolor of Duck, NC, where the family just spent an idyllic week, and, attesting to the season’s ambivalence, a poem by A.E. Housman.
XXXIX (from Last Poems)
When summer’s end is nighing
And skies at evening cloud,
I muse on change and fortune
And all the feats I vowed
When I was young and proud.
The weathercock at sunset
Would lose the slanted ray,
And I would climb the beacon
That looked to Wales away
And saw the last of day.
From hill and cloud and heaven
The hues of evening died;
Night welled through lane and hollow
And hushed the countryside,
But I had youth and pride.
And I with earth and nightfall
In converse high would stand,
Late, till the west was ashen
And darkness hard at hand,
And the eye lost the land.
The year might age, and cloudy
The lessening day might close,
But air of other summers
Breathed from beyond the snows,
And I had hope of those.
They came and were and are not
And come no more anew;
And all the years and seasons
That ever can ensue
Must now be worse and few.
So here’s an end of roaming
On eves when autumn nighs:
The ear too fondly listens
For summer’s parting sighs,
And then the heart replies.
Starry skies, sunrise, and sea maidens.
Creatures of air, land and sea; and a search for gifts.
Watermelons and wild waves.
A last look at the sunny beach before summer’s end, and a poem by Mary Oliver (b. 1935), whose birthday it is today. (This is not an upload glitch—the Indian Village watercolor paper actually is irregularly shaped.)
Hello, sun in my face.
Hello, you who made the morning
and spread it over the fields
and into the faces of the tulips
and the nodding morning glories,
and into the windows of, even, the
miserable and the crotchety—
best preacher that ever was,
dear star, that just happens
to be where you are in the universe
to keep us from ever-darkness,
to ease us with warm touching,
to hold us in the great hands of light—
good morning, good morning, good morning.
Watch, now, how I start the day
in happiness, in kindness.
Yesterday was the birthday of William Wordsworth (1770-1850); thus I post an excerpt from his beautiful Ode on Intimations of Immortality, so appropriate to this season and this day. Happy Passover, Happy Easter, everyone.
Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting;
The Soul that rises with us, our life’s Star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting
And cometh from afar;
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home:
Heaven lies about us in our infancy!
—William Wordsworth, from Intimations of Immortality
You can read the poem in entirety here.
For a mini-bio of Wordsworth, please see My Heart Leaps Up. For another painting and favorite poem, please see Dancing with the Daffodils.
The solid houses in the mist
are thin as tissue paper;
the water laps slowly at the rocks;
and the ducks from the north are here
at rest on the grey ripples.
The company in which we went
so free of care, so carelessly,
has scattered. Good-bye,
to you who lie behind in graves,
to you who galloped proudly off!
Pockets and heart are empty.
This is the autumn and our harvest—
such as it is, such as it is—
the beginnings of the end, bare trees and barren ground;
but for us only the beginning:
let the wild goat’s horn and the silver trumpet sound!
Reason upon reason
to be thankful:
for the fruit of the earth,
for the fruit of the tree,
for the light of the fire,
and to have come to this season.
from Meditations on the Fall and Winter Holidays
In honor of the birthday today of Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809-1892), I post this painting and poem—also suitably celebratory for Trish and Jason’s anniversary.
Move eastward, happy earth, and leave
Yon orange sunset waning slow:
From fringes of the faded eve,
O, happy planet, eastward go:
Till over thy dark shoulder glow
Thy silver sister world, and rise
To glass herself in dewey eyes
That watch me from the glen below.
Ah, bear me with thee, lightly borne,
Dip forward under starry light,
And move me to my marriage-morn,
And round again to happy night.
—Alfred, Lord Tennyson
Trish & Jason
A sketch of the beach in Gloucester, Massachusetts, where we were at this time last year. But we knew back in January when we replaced our ancient furnace that there would be no summer travel for us this year. So, instead we attempt to go swimming every single day, before breakfast, or before dinner. Or sometimes both! That’s two vacations per day.
To see the dangers you risk when you return from an actual trip out of town, please see Bananas.