PHYLLIS HARPER: Many try, but fail, to find words that do justice to autumn

Autumn is a season of change. The fall of the year moves in a colorful cycle, and harvest celebrations abound, as they have since recorded time.

As autumn makes its ambient way between summer life and winter death, the season itself is blessed with promises fulfilled by harvest – and the harvest holds seeds of promise as nature continues the eternal cycles.

Memories harken in this season and take me to my grandfather's farm at Fawn Grove, and for a little while I am 10 years old, my world secure. Fall was the busiest time, and Grandy and everyone else worked from dawn to dusk, through the evening of night into darkness lighted by a harvest moon. Life depended on gathering nature's bounty and preserving it for winter food and seeds for spring planting.

Autumn moves from summer to winter as poetry in motion. Always, I've wanted to compose a paean of praise to Creator and creation worthy of the season, but words fail me. I know the words of many poets and have quoted them – but no single person, and no one poem or song or psalm can do justice to this awesome season of the falling of another year.

Keats, the English poet, called autumn a season of mists and mellow fruitfulness when the maturing sun blesses the vines with fruit.

One verse of “Each in His Own Tongue” by W.H. Carruth says: “A haze on the far horizon,/The infinite, tender sky,/The ripe rich tint of the cornfields,/And wild geese sailing high,/And all over upland and lowland/The charm of the golden-rod – Some call it Autumn/Others call it God.”

Bliss Carman was writing about this season when he penned these lines in the late 19th century: “I took a day to search for God,/And found Him not, but as I trod/By rocky ledge through woods untamed,/Just where one scarlet lily flamed,/I saw His footprint in the sod.”

The words by Edna St. Vincent Millay, “Lord, I can lay the grass apart/And with my finger touch Thy heart,” remind me of falling into carpets of leaves and grass and trying to hug the whole earth.

Fall on the farm is never far away for me. Susan McDonald wrote “Autumn” and addressed it to me at Fawn Grove quite a few years ago, and Sandra Hudson penned the poem in her beautiful calligraphy and framed it behind glass in an arrangement of fall leaves. I treasure the lines hanging on my wall:

“Come and sit beneath my trees

and sift the softly falling leaves

and we will talk –

“Of childhood days and sugar cane

and walks in sharp November rain

and snow.”

Phyllis Harper's column appears each Sunday in the Daily Journal.

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