We all know that Vermont is famous for its fall foliage.
When we were visiting there a few years ago, I got to tramp around the farm that once belonged to Robert Frost. It was in the spring, not the fall, but I got to see his birches and his stone walls and the woods on the edge of the fields. While I was in Vermont I found a little book called Robert Frost: The People, Places, and Stories Behind His New England Poetry. Since then this little book has lived on my bedside table. While I have still not read it through, I have challenged myself to stop, while dusting on housework days, and take a moment for some poetry.
Today I picked up the book, ruffled the pages, and my fingers stopped on an index page where the title "October" popped out at me. I sat on the edge of the bed, turned to the poem, and read:
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 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.
For grapes' sake, if they were all,
Whose leaves already are burnt to frost,
Whose clustered fruit must else be lost -
For grapes' sake along the wall.
Having read this poem, I sighed, thinking of the walk in the mist we had already taken this morning, and knowing that my camera and I would have to go back out into the yard, to those leaves that are just beginning to fall. Oh, I hope they will be slow.
But before I left that little book, I took the time to read about the poem. Interviewed on what would turn out to be his last public reading, Frost said he was aware that he was giving this poem a "prayer sound", and that he used it as an example of his life-long determination to assign a place "apart" to poetry. Poetry, he said, was something "in itself", above the "contentions" of politics and religion.
And so I share with you a moment for poetry.
There will be plenty of contentiousness in the news this week, as candidates bicker, and Hillary finally testifies before the Benghazi committee. Don't get me wrong. I will be watching and listening and reading it all. I am a political animal.
But for a moment, I can sigh, and say "Go slow, lovely October".
And as for Vermont? Well, we are blessed with a pretty good show here in the Pacific Northwest too.