The Music of Fall


keats poem

After taking a walk in the fall of 1819, poet John Keats wrote the following words to a friend: “How beautiful the season is now—How fine the air. A temperate sharpness about it. . . . Aye better than the chilly green of the Spring. Somehow, a stubble-field looks warm.”

This fall walk inspired Keats to write his ode “To Autumn,” containing these lines:

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?

                Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,–

                While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,

                And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;

                Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn

                Among the river sallows, borne aloft

                Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;

                And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;

                Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft

                The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft,

                And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

Like Keats, I love the sunny chill of autumn. Looking out my library window, I see blue skies, multi-colored leaves, and a warm and radiant sun. Keats’ words and these fall days remind me of the psalmist’s attitude in Chapter 96, verses 11-12: “Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that is in it. Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them; let all the trees of the forest sing for joy.”

This time of year also inspires many of my hiker friends to explore the forests. They love to apply some bug repellant, lace up their Merrell waterproofs, grab their walking sticks, and head out to Old Stone Fort or Savage Gulf or Rattlesnake Point.

I personally don’t care for bugs, and I don’t own any type of Merrell shoes. I don’t possess Gandalf’s expertise in using a walking stick, and I don’t relish encountering rattlesnakes or anything savage.

However, these faithful followers of nature have occasionally coerced me into joining them on their hiking trips, and I must admit these treks have inspired me.

I am not a sure-footed animal, but I do love the conversation and camaraderie and the satisfaction of finishing a feat. Bottom line, I enjoy chewing upon the beauty of God’s creations and the wonders of His works.

Almost every step along the paths offers some new discovery. To examine closely God’s handiwork allows me to feel closer to my Creator.

While recently hiking Savage Gulf, my sister captured this anomaly of a dead tree which had become the object of a woodpecker’s affection. This dead tree had obviously given birth to a maple tree sporting a coat of many colors.

woodpecker holes (2).jpg

What a mighty God we serve, and what beauty there is to behold!

The words of the prophet Isaiah also capture the sentiment of the season: “The mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.” (Chapter 55, verse 12)

leaves falling

God’s fall canvas inspires me to write. However, my poem sounds more like the words of Carl Sandburg than John Keats.

The crisp leaves

Finally let go,

Only to skitter

To and fro

On the breeze.

I love the music of fall best of all.

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