Fall awakens something in the heart. I wrote my first poem when I was six years old, sitting in a tree in autumn. I wrote of the falling leaves, and the advent of winter. I felt, even then, an ominous, enchanted something in the air.
The mountains around my valley become brilliantly articulate in the fall. The scarlet leaves cry out the impermanence of life, but the hills stand behind them, solid and everlasting. Watching them is like listening to an Irish flute lilting a light, wistful dance over the steady beat of the bodhran. Autumn touches the transcendent, melancholy shiver of mortality in us. It has a finality, an overtone of inescapability, but at the same time a terrible, haunting beauty.
Spring is turning to summer now in my life. I sense still the lovely blossoms of springtime and young love, and seeing the world new through inexperienced eyes. But there is something of summer and golden days, of blossoms ripening to fruit, and of maturing relationships. And behind the dancing feet of springtime, and summer’s deepening waltz, I hear the stately quadrille of autumn approaching. Spring is forever, until one hears the call of autumn. It is the season of change, of seeing things for the last time, in the sudden clarity of their impending loss. The thought of it awakens a dread, and yet a stronger longing. Something in us wants to see things this way, to know that they will not always be so, to see them for what they truly are. In some ineffable way, loving the transitory leads us to the eternal.
The leaves fall, fall as if from far away,
like withered things from gardens deep in sky;
they fall with gestures of renunciation.
And through the night the heavy earth falls too,
down from the stars, into the loneliness.
And we all fall. This hand must fall.
Look everywhere: it is the lot of all.
Yet there is one who holds us as we fall
eternally in his hands’ tenderness.
– Ranier Maria Rilke