Writing on Wednesday: God’s World
Watching the leaves turn from verdant greens to vibrant yellows and oranges and reds reminds me of death. Not death is a morbid way, but in the trick that nature plays every year when she shows us her autumnal brilliance. This morning when I went outside I found myself smiling wistfully at the last blooms of my rose bushes and the bright blossoms in the pots I must bring inside from my porch soon. But then the first blasts of fall’s colors took my breath away. And yes, I thought about the fact that the beauty of the leaves comes from their death. A mild sadness swept over me, and I found myself talking to the trees (after looking around to be sure none of my neighbors were watching) and saying to them, “Death becomes you.”
“You expected to be sad in the fall. Part of you died each year when the leaves fell from the trees and their branches were bare against the wind and the cold, wintery light. But you knew there would always be the spring, as you knew the river would flow again after it was frozen. When the cold rains kept on and killed the spring, it was as though a young person died for no reason.”—Earnest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast.
Rilke also embraces that autumnal death:
“At no other time (than autumn) does the earth let itself be inhaled in one smell, the ripe earth; in a smell that is in no way inferior to the smell of the sea, bitter where it borders on taste, and more honeysweet where you feel it touching the first sounds. Containing depth within itself, darkness, something of the grave almost.”—Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters on Cezanne
But Millay greeted autumn with a passion that inspires me:
“God’s World”—Edna St. Vincent Millay, from Renaissance and Other Poems.
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.