Shakespeare and Autumn

That time of year thou mayst in me behold When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang Upon those boughs which shake against the cold, Bare ruin’d choirs where late the sweet birds sang Shakespeare on Fall“That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruin’d choirs where late the sweet birds sang….

(SON 73)

Autumn, the bright solemn fading of the year – a metaphor for old age… and a reminder that “All that lives, must die, passing through nature to eternity” (Hamlet).
Yet, who has not spared a moment or spent a thought, wondering why the beauty of Autumn should be so connected and linked to the mystical End. There will be other leaves next Spring but not the ones that died and will be no more…

The season has awakened the creative spirit in poets and writers. Here are a few among many.

Jane Austen,
“Her pleasure in the walk must arise from the exercise and the day, from the view of the last smiles of the year upon the tawny leaves and withered hedges, and from repeating to herself some few of the thousand poetical descriptions extant of autumn–that season of peculiar and inexhaustible influence on the mind of taste and tenderness–that season which has drawn from every poet worthy of being read some attempt at description, or some lines of feeling.”

George Eliot,
“Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.”

John Donne
“No spring nor summer beauty hath such grace as I have seen in one autumnal face.”

and Boris Pasternak,
The autumn had already clearly marked the frontiers between the coniferous and the deciduous trees. Between the gloomy, bristling walls of almost black pines the leafy thickets shone flame- and wine colored like medieval towns with painted and gold roofed palaces built of the timber cut down in the thickness of the forest.

Greedily he breathed in the mixed peppery smell of frostbitten apples, bitter dry wigs, sweetish damp earth, and the blue September mist that smoked like the fumes of a recently extinguished fire

The room…was filled with the creamy light of the golden autumn days…when the mornings begin to be frosty

Such was now the light… the light of an autumn sunset, as succulent, glassy, juicy as a certain variety of Russian apples.

…On such days the sky is incredibly high, and through the transparent pillar of air between it and the earth there moves an icy, dark-blue radiance coming from the north.

…The horizons open as if to show the whole of life for years ahead.

…They flew away from the trees, gliding through the air, and covered the hospital lawn, looking like bent orange stars

On the more mundane side, Shakespeare’s lines on the subject are an appropriate answer  when you are or are feeling old and someone asks you about your age or your feelings.

In the Sonnet.  Autumn as a metaphor for old age

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  • SD writes, ” Scott Dormer
    Just left my job to change my carrer and even pursue a creative field. I am finding that people are saying my age is against me. 44 years old.

  • Jimmie replies,
    Far from me to make light of your comment. But Shakespeare has quite a few counter-punches, if you sense that your next employer may take issue. One is
    Your lordship, though not clean past your youth, hath yet some smack of age in you, some relish of
    the saltness of time.” (KH4.2.1.2)
    Modify this one a little, “Though not clean past my youth, yet there is yet some smack of age in me, some relish of the saltness of time.”
    Or…thou are of one date.
    “My glass shall not persuade me I am old
    As long as youth and thou are of one date.” (SON.22)
    Answer to “How old are you?” when you intend to deflect the question.

  • Franz Kratschmer says,
    Retired at United Nations, Author:”Lucky 13″, “China-Hungry for Resources and Know-How”. Direct Selling Business Expert.

    Dear Friends,
    It’s your brain and way of thinking that tells you how old you are? You can be 80 and still ride a horse – why? Eliminate the word old of your vocabulary.

  • Salpy Darakjian writes,
    Wonderful quotes, I would like to share a poem by an Armenian poet Vahan Derian

    AUTUMN SONG
    A stirring chill, whirring still,
    keeps me mollified
    by empty trees, yellow leaves
    that slow my stride.

    Filling paths, failing greens
    turn brown and pass
    in shades that fade, fields unmade
    shadowed grass.

    All my fires are banked fires
    down to a glow.
    And stirring dreams, whirring dreams
    flare and go.

  • Vivienne Mackie writes, (posted on Linkedin)
    I think it’s generally true that “you’re only as old as you allow yourself to feel”—so we know people of 80+ who still achieve amazing things with their lives, but also people of 50-ish who drag around and seem to have given up a curiosity in life.
    That said, however, it’s also true that society doesn’t always evaluate us that way, and places put on arbitrary number on what they will and will not allow.
    It’s too bad, Scott, that you are finding that 44 is being said to be against you—that’s really not true. or it shouldn’t be
    By Vivienne Mackie

  • Jurich Katzendawg says (posted on LInkedin)
    Scott Dormer, do not listen to those people! The best comeback is “Thanks, but I’m a little too busy doing this to listen to you telling me why I can’t.” Forty-four is not that old! Plus, you have valuable life skills, experiences and, most importantly, you probably have a deeper passion and desire to do something you want to do than you may have had twenty years ago. You can learn the technical stuff and, if you are truly into this, you can find out what you need to. Anymore there are so many opportunities to make things happen outside of the standard system where someone must “approve” of your creativity. Good luck and thanks for re-inspiring me!
    By Katzendawg Jurich

  • Vivienne Mackie says (posted on LInkedin)
    I think it’s generally true that “you’re only as old as you allow yourself to feel”—so we know people of 80+ who still achieve amazing… more »
    By Vivienne Mackie

  • Marie Seltenrych writes (from Linked in)
    I know that energy levels drop as you age and cope with pain, injury, or the other hazards of previous life. I am shocked that you, 44 are considered old!!! Unbelievable. As some of the comments here indicate and state explicitly, You are NOT old. However, if there are contestants for this creative industry who are between 20 – 30 years, they may see you as old. When we were 35, my husband and I applied to go on a ‘Boat Mission”. We were told back then that we were already ‘too old’ to handle the activities. Now, at 65+ we are still doing ministry and have done buckets of it for years and never waned. My husband (66) has more energy and go in him than men I know who are not 40, so it depends on the individual.
    Incidentally, I know people (living across the road) who are in their 20’s and couldn’t even wash their own dog or mow their grass, or get a job. I would never hire lazy people like that.
    I know another man behind us who is 94 and who goes walking at 4:00 am every morning, does Yoga and even cleans his own back-yard pool and keeps his place spic and span.
    He never stops moving.
    Never agree that your age is ‘against’ you, that is fatal for depression. Think, “experience” and maturity of mind instead.
    By Marie Seltenrych