Wednesday, September 01, 2010


O Autumn, laden with fruit, and stain'd
With the blood of the grape, pass not, but sit
Beneath my shady roof; there thou may'st rest,
And tune thy jolly voice to my fresh pipe,
And all the daughters of the year shall dance!
Sing now the lusty song of fruits and flowers.

'The narrow bud opens her beauties to
The sun, and love runs in her thrilling veins;
Blossoms hang round the brows of Morning, and
Flourish down the bright cheek of modest Eve,
Till clust'ring Summer breaks forth into singing,
And feather'd clouds strew flowers round her head.

'The spirits of the air live in the smells
Of fruit; and Joy, with pinions light, roves round
The gardens, or sits singing in the trees.'
Thus sang the jolly Autumn as he sat,
Then rose, girded himself, and o'er the bleak
Hills fled from our sight; but left his golden load.

William Blake - To Autumn - 1783

I have never been here in September before and I will see most of the month out until I return to the UK. Already there is a sense of Autumn, the mornings and evenings are cooler and though still warm, the heat has a softer quality to it. Despite my ignorance and lack of stewardship, thin branches are bending under the weight of fruit. The village is noticeably quieter, many summer visitors have gone and it is absolutely gorgeous. As the loudspeaker on the hawker's van calls out, 'κρεμμύδια και πατάτες έχω', I have an overwhelming sense of my own good fortune and privilege. What could be better than to be here, now, on a September day?


George S said...

Just putting together a programme of readings about autumn, Peter - a local With Great Pleasure as part of the festival. The Blake is one of the thing I am considering.

Blake is one of the great heroes - not because he is to be taken literally, but because his mind is never satisfied and is always yearning after something, and because he is as brave as they come. Do you know the Proverbs of Hell, from The Marriage of Heaven and Hell?

The Plump said...

I like your description 'brave'. What I find with Blake is that he is bursting with ideas and desperate to communicate them with force and urgency.

I always have seen him as wild. The image that I have in my head is an ancient TV interview with Ken Russell and the impeccable, bouffant-haired critic Alexander Walker. When Walker pompously accused Russell of a lack of subtlety, Russell began beating him over the head with a rolled up copy of the Evening Standard. I always felt that reading Blake was a similar experience. Gratifyingly forceful. And the actions of a hero.

I hadn't seen the Proverbs of Hell - wonderful, and they made me think of Bakunin

But here steps in Satan, the eternal rebel, the first free-thinker and emancipator of worlds. He makes man ashamed of his bestial ignorance and obedience; he emancipates him, stamps upon his brow the seal of liberty and humanity, in urging him to disobey and eat of the fruit of knowledge.