The calendar says winter has begun but, while it is reasonably mild and there are still some reddening leaves on the trees, I want to dwell for a few moments on the beauty of autumn, as portrayed here by the great nature and romantic poet, John Keats.

(1795 – 1821)

Ode To Autumn by John Keats

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-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d 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-brimm’d their clammy cells.

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

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too –
While barred 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 red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

John Keats was inspired to write his poem while out walking in the fields. He tarried, enjoying the moment to the full. The poem is bursting with imagery such as personification, metaphor and symbolism. In contrast, here’s a brief and succinct poem by Emily Bronte, who appears to delight in the final vestiges of autumn and is very much looking forward to the approaching winter.

(1818 – 1848)

Fall, Leaves, Fall by Emily Bronte

Fall, leaves, fall; die, flowers, away;

Lengthen night and shorten day;

Every leaf speaks bliss to me

Fluttering from the autumn tree.

I shall smile when wreaths of snow

Blossom where the rose should grow;

I shall sing when night’s decay

Ushers in a drearier day.

No Coward Soul Is Mine ~ Emily Bronte

"I'll walk where my own nature would be leading:
    It vexes me to choose another guide:
Where the grey flocks in ferny glens are feeding;
    Where the wild wind blows on the mountain side."
 -Emily Bronte (Stanzas) 

Emily Bronte was the daughter of an Anglican vicar yet her own faith was based not on traditional religious attitudes, but on her own experience which was rooted in nature rather than a physical Church or specific doctrine. Mary Robinson, in her 1883 biography of Emily, put it this way:

“Never was a soul with more passionate love of Mother Earth, of every weed and flower, of every bird, beast, and insect that lived.”


Her sister Charlotte wrote of Emily, that the moors “were what she lived in, and by”. Emily beautifully describes them in “High Waving Heather”, written in 1836. First verse here:

“High waving heather, ‘neath stormy blasts bending,
Midnight and moonlight and bright shining stars;
Darkness and glory rejoicingly blending,
Earth rising to heaven and heaven descending,

Man’s spirit away from its drear dungeon sending,
Bursting the fetters and breaking the bars.”

Emily Bronte had the courage of her convictions. She had faith in a God who was not the construction of orthodoxy, but the God she had come to know for herself. This can be seen in her poem No Coward Soul Is Mine.

“No coward soul is mine

No trembler in the world’s storm-troubled sphere

I see Heaven’s glories shine

And Faith shines equal arming me from Fear

O God within my breast

Almighty ever-present Deity

Life, that in me hast rest,

As I Undying Life, have power in Thee

Vain are the thousand creeds

That move men’s hearts, unutterably vain,

Worthless as withered weeds

Or idlest froth amid the boundless main

To waken doubt in one

Holding so fast by thy infinity,

So surely anchored on

The steadfast rock of Immortality.

With wide-embracing love

Thy spirit animates eternal years

Pervades and broods above,

Changes, sustains, dissolves, creates and rears

Though earth and moon were gone

And suns and universes ceased to be

And Thou wert left alone

Every Existence would exist in thee

There is not room for Death

Nor atom that his might could render void

Since thou art Being and Breath

And what thou art may never be destroyed.”