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October 29, 2006

Work-Life Balance This.

It's Sunday, near the end of October. This week offers us all a series of ancient harvest and life-death cycle observances with Pagan, Celtic, Roman and even Christian roots. Halloween (also called "Pooky Night" is some parts of Ireland) is just a faint shadow of this celebration of the awesome powers in the Cosmos.

U.S. kids of course love this week for its costumes and candy. Some cultures and religions commune a bit more seriously with the spirit world this week. But for me, a boring Anglo-Saxon Protestant who grew up in Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, it's just Fall (and a chance to catch again on TV two of the funniest movies ever made: The Exorcist and The Shining).

So inspired and assisted by an e-mail from my college and, later, Washington, D.C. roommate--friend, Super-father, husband, thinker, doer, outdoorsman, environmentalist, Duke and Columbia graduate, man of letters, journalist and author of, among other things, the acclaimed The Trade Warriors: USTR and the American Crusade for Free Trade (by S. J. Dryden, Oxford University Press)--WAC? offers, in an audio reading by Robert Pinsky, and in print below, John Keats's (1795-1821) poem To Autumn. And I can't improve on my friend's introduction to the poem:

"Give it up for my man John Keats and his poem To Autumn!"

1

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom‑friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch‑eaves run;
To bend with apples the mossed cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o'er‑brimmed their clammy cells.

2

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on the granary floor,
Thy hair soft‑lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or, on a half‑reaped furrow sound asleep,
Drowsed with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twinéd flowers;
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cider‑press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

3

Where are the songs of Spring? Aye, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too—
While barréd clouds bloom the soft‑dying day,
And touch the stubble‑plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full‑grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge‑crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The redbreast whistles from a garden‑croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

September 19, 1819

Posted by JD Hull at October 29, 2006 11:59 PM

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