I love this time of year. That bittersweet time as you say goodbye to one golden season and move onto the next, which is greyer in hue. The seasons do seem to come round faster every year as one gets older.
I was looking at Yeats’s October poem recently in preparation for teaching a class. It’s the first one on which I tried out my tentative literary criticism skills back in the mid eighties when I started my A levels, when shoulder pads and hair were big and my knees actually worked quite well. It’s wasted on the young (this poem, not my knees!) but anyone of my vintage will find it speaks to them.
Incidentally,as we were speaking about literary criticism, if you are an A level or GCSE student (or the parent of one) in the Bath/West Wilts area, who needs some tuition in English Literature or Latin, from Christmas I will have some spaces for individual or group slots. Contact me by email firstname.lastname@example.org
The Wild Swans at Coole
The trees are in their autumn beauty,
The woodland paths are dry,
Under the October twilight the water
Mirrors a still sky;
Upon the brimming water among the stones
Are nine-and-fifty swans.
The nineteenth autumn has come upon me
Since I first made my count;
I saw, before I had well finished,
All suddenly mount
And scatter wheeling in great broken rings
Upon their clamorous wings.
I have looked upon those brilliant creatures,
And now my heart is sore.
All’s changed since I, hearing at twilight,
The first time on this shore,
The bell-beat of their wings above my head,
Trod with a lighter tread.
Unwearied still, lover by lover,
They paddle in the cold
Companionable streams or climb the air;
Their hearts have not grown old;
Passion or conquest, wander where they will,
Attend upon them still.
But now they drift on the still water,
Among what rushes will they build,
By what lake’s edge or pool
Delight men’s eyes when I awake some day
To find they have flown away?