I commemorated the beginning of autumn last week with an article centered on an 1899 poem by William Thomas Saward published in The Girl’s Own Paper. That poem, titled Solitude, described the vitality of the season of fall:

For be it autumn, or be it spring,
Some flowers will bloom, and some birds will sing!

As we turn the calendar from September to October, the first of two fully-autumn months, I again turn to The Girl’s Own Paper – this time the October 1, 1898 issue. This poem is most fitting for the season – so fitting that its name is Autumn. It is authored by a poet with the initials “V.R.” – you will find Autumn, reproduced in its entirety, below.


Radiant sunsets garnered
      Through the bygone year
From earth's deep bosom,
      Slowly now appear.
Rainbow glories flooding
      Forest, hill and vale,
With a ruby lustre
      And an amber pale.

Now the forest minister
      Trembles as each chord
Swells the rocking pine trees
      On the wind's keyboard.
Till the music endeth
      In an accent drear
Wailing out a requiem
      To the dying year.

Earth her treasures gathered
      From the seasons past.
Heapeth them an off'ring
      On an altar vast!
Till the fires of Heaven
      Catch the ascending glow.
And the heart of Heaven
      Into earth doth flow.

Where is now the glory?
      Where is Autumn's glow?
Passed into a furnace
      Working deep below.
Forging through the darkness
      Gems surpassing fair,
That the coming springtime
      In her crown shall wear!


Garner—heart—the sunsets
      Of thy passing years.
Bygone strains of music,
      Remembered but in tears.
Till thy sorrow's—silent,
      Alchemy transmute.
And each broken reed of song
      Grows into a flute.


Parting Autumnal Thoughts

"Autumn Leaves" - a well-known 1856 oil painting of four girls around a pile of leaves in the twilight by John Everett Millais.
“Autumn Leaves” (1856) by John Everett Millais. The young women on the left are Alice and Sophie Gray, Millais’s sisters-in-law. The painting has a Wikipedia page.

One theme in some of my New Leaf Journal content is looking for the unique charm of the different seasons. In Autumn – V.R. paints a distinct view of the charm of autumn. The season, we are told, is a requiem to the dying year. The poem – and especially its envoi – is a touch melancholic. But death is both an end and a beginning. It is here that V.R. states clearly the character of the fall – offering a different view than did Saward in Solitude:

Where is now the glory?
      Where is Autumn's glow?
Passed into a furnace
      Working deep below

In the envoi, V.R. more broadly associates autumn with remembering the past. Yet those sunsets of earlier days and the “bygone strains of music” will invariably “transmute” – and the Sun will rise and the birds will sing again.