Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Leaf Burning

Leaf burning? Do you see it anymore?

I remember my father burning leaves in the ditch by the street in November and other men in the neighborhood out there too, each tending their little flames.

1951 ad

When I saw this ad in an old Progressive Farmer magazine, I remembered Autumn afternoons and that sharp fragrance released into the air.

It made me think of Laurence Binyon's bittersweet poem, fraught with symbolism of the Great War, but a poem I love simply because it is beautiful to read.

The Burning of the Leaves

Now is the time for the burning of the leaves.
They go to the fire; the nostril pricks with smoke
Wandering slowly into a weeping mist.
Brittle and blotched, ragged and rotten sheaves!
A flame seizes the smouldering ruin and bites
On stubborn stalks that crackle as they resist.

The last hollyhock's fallen tower is dust;
All the spices of June are a bitter reek,
All the extravagant riches spent and mean.
All burns! The reddest rose is a ghost;
Sparks whirl up, to expire in the mist: the wild
Fingers of fire are making corruption clean.

Now is the time for stripping the spirit bare,
Time for the burning of days ended and done,
Idle solace of things that have gone before:
Rootless hope and fruitless desire are there;
Let them go to the fire, with never a look behind.
The world that was ours is a world that is ours no more.

They will come again, the leaf and the flower, to arise
From squalor of rottenness into the old splendour,
And magical scents to a wondering memory bring;
The same glory, to shine upon different eyes.
Earth cares for her own ruins, naught for ours.
Nothing is certain, only the certain spring.