A Bit 'o Random Musings on Politics, Religion, and Anything Else That Passes Through My Crazy Head

Friday, October 23, 2015

October Optimization

This particular Molly Mormon Democrat can't bring herself to blog about politics when a certain Orange-American is leading in polls for the Republican nomination. When the electorate comes to its senses, she'll be back in the stateship saddle.  In the meantime, here is a post about one of her other loves, Autumn.

Last weekend I spent two days hiking and glorying in the beauties of Virginia autumn along Skyline Drive in the Shenandoah. I spent most of the time alternating between reciting/composing poetry, and laughing at my pretentiousness for reciting/composing poetry. Here are some of my pictures, poems I half remembered during my rambles, and at the end, one of the poems I composed as I hiked (apologies in advance).  If you need a soundtrack to listen to while reading, might I humbly suggest Eva Cassidy's Falling Leaves?

Dark hills against a hollow crocus sky
Scarfed with its crimson pennons, and below 
The dome of sunset long, hushed valleys lie
Cradling the twilight, where the lone winds blow 
And wake among the harps of leafless trees 
Fantastic runes and mournful melodies. 

The chilly purple air is threaded through
With silver from the rising moon afar, 
And from a gulf of clear, unfathomed blue
In the southwest glimmers a great gold star 
Above the darkening druid glens of fir 
Where beckoning boughs and elfin voices stir. 

And so I wander through the shadows still,
And look and listen with a rapt delight, 
Pausing again and yet again at will
To drink the elusive beauty of the night, 
Until my soul is filled, as some deep cup, 
That with divine enchantment is brimmed up. 

(An Autumn Evening, L.M. Montgomery)

Let the mountains shout for joy, and all ye valleys cry aloud; and all ye seas and dry lands tell the wonders of your Eternal King! And ye rivers, and brooks, and rills, flow down with gladness. Let the woods and all the trees of the field praise the Lord; and ye solid rocks weep for joy! And let the sun, moon, and the morning stars sing together, and let all the sons of God shout for joy! And let the eternal creations declare his name forever and ever! 

(Revelation to the Prophet Joseph Smith, canonized in 
Mormon scripture as Doctrine & Covenants 128:23)

The leaves are falling, falling as if from far up,
as if orchards were dying high in space.
Each leaf falls as if it were motioning "no."

And tonight the heavy earth is falling
away from all other stars in the loneliness.

We're all falling. This hand here is falling.
And look at the other one. It's in them all.

And yet there is Someone, whose hands
infinitely calm, holding up all this falling. 

(Autumn, Rainer Maria Rilke)

O world, I cannot hold thee close enough!
Thy winds, thy wide grey skies!
Thy mists, that roll and rise!
Thy woods, this autumn day, that ache and sag
And all but cry with colour! That gaunt crag
To crush! To lift the lean of that black bluff!
World, World, I cannot get thee close enough!

Long have I known a glory in it all,
But never knew I this;
Here such a passion is
As stretcheth me apart,—Lord, I do fear
Thou’st made the world too beautiful this year;
My soul is all but out of me,—let fall
No burning leaf; prithee, let no bird call.

(God's World, Edna St. Vincent Millay)

The name—of it—is 'Autumn'—
The hue—of it—is Blood—
An Artery—upon the Hill—
A Vein—along the Road—

Great Globules—in the Alleys—
And Oh, the Shower of Stain—
When Winds—upset the Basin—
And spill the Scarlet Rain—

It sprinkles Bonnets—far below—
It gathers ruddy Pools—
Then—eddies like a Rose—away—
Upon Vermilion Wheels— 

(The Name-of it-is 'Autumn,' Emily Dickinson)

Go, sit upon the lofty hill,
And turn your eyes around,
Where waving woods and waters wild
Do hymn an autumn sound.
The summer sun is faint on them —
The summer flowers depart —
Sit still — as all transform’d to stone,
Except your musing heart.

How there you sat in summer-time,
May yet be in your mind;
And how you heard the green woods sing
Beneath the freshening wind.
Though the same wind now blows around,
You would its blast recall;
For every breath that stirs the trees,
Doth cause a leaf to fall.

Oh! like that wind, is all the mirth
That flesh and dust impart:
We cannot bear its visitings,
When change is on the heart.
Gay words and jests may make us smile,
When Sorrow is asleep;
But other things must make us smile,
When Sorrow bids us weep!

The dearest hands that clasp our hands, —
Their presence may be o’er;
The dearest voice that meets our ear,
That tone may come no more!
Youth fades; and then, the joys of youth,
Which once refresh’d our mind,
Shall come — as, on those sighing woods,
The chilling autumn wind.

Hear not the wind — view not the woods;
Look out o’er vale and hill —
In spring, the sky encircled them —
The sky is round them still.
Come autumn’s scathe — come winter’s cold —
Come change — and human fate!
Whatever prospect Heaven doth bound,
Can ne’er be desolate.

(The Autumn, Elizabeth Barrett Browning)

O hushed October morning mild,
Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;
Tomorrow’s wind, if it be wild,
Should waste them all.
The crows above the forest call;
Tomorrow they may form and go.
O hushed October morning mild,
Begin the hours of this day slow.
Make the day seem to us less brief.
Hearts not averse to being beguiled,
Beguile us in the way you know.
Release one leaf at break of day;
At noon release another leaf;
One from our trees, one far away.
Retard the sun with gentle mist;
Enchant the land with amethyst.
Slow, slow!
For the grapes’ sake, if they were all,
Whose leaves already are burnt with frost,
Whose clustered fruit must else be lost—
For the grapes’ sake along the wall.
(October, Robert Frost)

Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

(Nothing Gold Can Stay, Robert Frost)

Downhill, is glorious 
A shouted hymn of praise towards
Nature, and nature's God.

Uphill, is terrible
A whispered curse of labored 
Ragged breath.

Down, Up, Down, Up, 
Mingling the praise and curses
Amidst crunching leaves.

Honey gold to crimson red,
Leaves spiral in the wind
Pulling me down the path.

Grateful, I remember the wonder that is 
My body - this flawed, strong thing.
Its imperfections still allow me to ascend.

I wonder, wandering
If the poet's right, that 
"Nothing gold can stay."

Perhaps, if I leave my doubts, anxieties,
misgivings, to sit and mellow,
They will change to gold.

Then turn to brown, and fall, 
Winter's carpet, preparing
The way for new beginnings.

What will grow? 
If I let those things be? 
Leave them to turn to mulch.

Waiting, still and silent, for spring life.
What will grow? If I am patient?
I suppose it will depend on what I plant.
(Hiking, Me)

There's something ultimately magical about being alone in the forest, and breathing in the glories of nature.  I know I romanticize it, but I really do feel renewed and refreshed while I hike.  Which makes it that much harder to leave when it's over.  Thus, the frowny face when I leave the park behind:

Optimize your October - go outside and enjoy Autumn!