Poetry: Frost – October

O hushed October morning mild,
Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;
To-morrow’s wind, if it be wild,
Should waste them all.
The crows above the forest call;
To-morrow they may form and go.
O hushed October morning mild,
Begin the hours of this day slow,
Make the day seem to us less brief.
Hearts not averse to being beguiled,
Beguile us in the way you know;
Release one leaf at break of day;
At noon release another leaf;
One from our trees, one far away;
Retard the sun with gentle mist;
Enchant the land with amethyst.
Slow, slow!
For the grapes’ sake, if they were all,
Whose leaves already are burnt with frost,
Whose clustered fruit must else be lost—
For the grapes’ sake along the wall.

Frost’s poem caught me up before I really knew what I was reading. A pastoral poem in content, the rhymes fascinated me in their weaving and irregularity. I thought I had the pattern halfway through, but Frost changes them again, not quite a mirror, but as if he loses the pattern with the swiftly falling leaves. And that is when I took note of the last two lines and knew I had to read the poem again.

October comes quietly for Frost, mildly, bringing with her beauty and the maternity of the season. I was called back to my home state of Michigan, for this is the height of the fall colors. Height, yes, and tomorrow they will all be gone. We hear the birds sing their last songs, then struck by their sudden absence. So hushed, the soft coming of October. But he asks her now: start slowly, stretch the hours. We won’t mind the trickery, the slow passing of the clock today, not today. Let these leaves from our own limbs drop slowly; let these hands stay upright a little longer. And sigh, what beauty you will shower us with as we sit a moment longer! Please, turn less quickly, show us these little joys a moment longer. Slow, slow, he pleads! But not for us, no, look. This gentle fruit is still at hand. Can’t we save it from further death? At least for these little things, October, let us slow the passing of this day.

Yes, I missed the heart of the poem at first glance, missed the passing of time, the birds of death, the fragile leaves, missed them in the slumbering nature of the pastoral poem, depicting one of my favorite times of the year. And I love its reflection. For as I enjoy these fleeting days with my children, collecting those fallen leaves, watching the birds slowly disperse, I think about how quickly my younger days with my own brother have quickly gone and how soon I, too, may ask gentle October, slow, slow! Release these leaves slowly.

Blessings to you and yours,

~Madelyn Rose Craig

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