"Again the old heraldic pomp
Of Autumn on the hills..."
From "An Autumn Song" by Clinton Scollard
Woman's Home Companion September 1901
I look out the window and see the belly of a red-tailed hawk show white as he soars against the backdrop of an October blue sky here at Valley View.
All colors of autumn leaves--as in Edward A. Thomas' 1863 lines, "The opal pomp of autumn's dyes"--paint the hillside pasture leading up to our son and daughter-in-law's house perched high above us.
The crabapple tree across the creek is heavy with fruit this year.
Of those who grow melancholic during the days of autumn, those who sob when they hear the months of September, October, November pealed off in the hauntingly beautiful "September Song," I have no meeting ground. I am not wired along those lines myself. I would surely feel bittersweet about autumn if great sorrow overtook me at that time of year but might even then be comforted by its beauty.
As to my own mortality, something one cannot help but ponder as the years march on, I believe if faced with it in autumn, I would be like Honore de Balzac's Mme. Willemsens in La Grenadiere when confronted by her own approaching death. She requests her son Louis to carry her outside to see once more the glory of the French countryside in October.
"And the pale woman,
with the great tired eyes and languid movements,
never uttered a word of complaint,
and smiled upon her children,
so full of life and health--it was a sublime picture,
lacking no melancholy autumn pomp
of yellow leaves and half-despoiled branches,
nor the softened sunlight
and pale clouds of the skies of Touraine."
Honore de Balzac
Is it any wonder that so many writers have used the one word that so aptly describes the glory of autumn--pomp? I adore that word! Of all the written examples, Washington Irving's golden pomp of autumn may be most familiar.
"...the golden pomp of autumn,
earth with its mantle of refreshing green,
and heaven with its deep, delicious blue
and its cloudy magnificence--
all fill us with mute but exquisite delight."
Irving knew and loved and wrote of the pleasures of all the seasons of nature and man, and he knew how to leave the reader with words that evoke all the majesty of the last fling of the year before winter arrives. Pomp is the perfect word because my old and weighty two-volumne 1936 Webster's Universal Dictionary proclaims pomp to be "a solemn procession distinguished by ostentation of grandeur and splendor."
Heady words, grandeur and splendor, but well deserved by divine autumn. From autumn's first wine-sweet days that make us itch to gather in the last of summer's garden bounty, through football days that fill us with nostalgia for our youth, to the later wild wet days that shake down the last colored crinkly leaves, we must absorb each moment of this grandeur and pomp that is autumn.