Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Autumn poetry primer, part 5

So, remember back before I landed in the hospital and I started an autumn poetry primer? No? No worries. You can read the prior for entries here if you're so inclined.

Today's a rainy sort of fall day, but even in half-light that has been present all day, the leaves still shine like gems. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote a poem called "Autumn" about rain and autumn leaves. It's a lovely little Italianate sonnet with a rhyme scheme of ABBAABBACDCDCD, written in iambic pentameter (five iambic feet per line: taDUM taDUM taDUM taDUM taDUM). I love his use of personification in this - can't you picture Autumn standing there like one of the giant robed statues that guard the river in Lord of the Rings, with a moon on her shield and an arm outstretched?

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Thou comest, Autumn, heralded by the rain,
With banners, by great gales incessant fanned,
Brighter than brightest silks of Samarkand*,
And stately oxen harnessed to thy wain**!
Thou standest, like imperial Charlemagne,
Upon thy bridge of gold; thy royal hand
Outstretched with benedictions o'er the land,
Blessing the farms through all thy vast domain!
Thy shield is the red harvest moon, suspended
So long beneath the heaven's o'er-hanging eaves;
Thy steps are by the farmer's prayers attended;
Like flames upon an altar shine the sheaves;
And, following thee, in thy ovation splendid,
Thine almoner***, the wind, scatters the golden leaves!

*Samarcand: Tamerlane's opulent capitol along the silk route (now part of Uzbekistan)
**wain: an open farm wagon
***almoner: one who distributes alms to the poor

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