Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Portsmouth Point Poetry: Field of Autumn

by George Laver

Hello again!

For the first entry of the term, I have chosen a seasonal piece included in the Writing Britain Exhibition at the British Library, which I visited during the summer holidays. Laurie Lee (26 June 1914 –13 May 1997) was an English writer most well-known for his autobiographical trilogy and for his service in the Spanish Civil War between 1936 and 1939.

“Field of Autumn” is a picturesque yet strangely brooding piece. It reflects on personal change and the passing of time through describing elements of the environment with a simple vividness, portraying the season of autumn as a moment of tension or expectancy, offering some of the most meaningful perspectives on the natural world before the onset of winter. The animals’ vague, unintelligent awareness of imminent change remains undefined throughout and it seems almost that only the approaching adversity will be able to add definiteness and certainty to the uneasiness underlying the piece.

Field of Autumn

Slow moves the acid breath of noon
over the copper-coated hill,
slow from the wild crab's bearded breast
the palsied apples fall.

Like coloured smoke the day hangs fire,
taking the village without sound;
the vulture-headed sun lies low
chained to the violet ground.

The horse upon the rocky height
rolls all the valley in his eye,
but dares not raise his foot or move
his shoulder from the fly.

The sheep, snail-backed against the wall,
lifts her blind face but does not know
the cry her blackened tongue gives forth
is the first bleat of snow.

Each bird and stone, each roof and well,
feels the gold foot of autumn pass;
each spider binds with glittering snare
the splintered bones of grass.

Slow moves the hour that sucks our life,
slow drops the late wasp from the pear,
the rose tree's thread of scent draws thin -
and snaps upon the air.

                                           Laurie Lee

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