Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Autumn Sonnet

At 10:29 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time last night, summer ended and fall began. As always, no seasonal change was more eagerly awaited or fervently welcomed in my mind than this annual autumnal equinox.

As if on cue, the weather has begun to get noticeably cooler in the last couple of days.In fact, it got down into the 40s in Knoxville overnight! Of course, it is warming up now. And, for sure, we can expect plenty of sunny and hot days ahead. But the climactic arc is at last bending in the right direction.  

For me, autumn has always been the season of new beginning, especially given the importance of the school calendar in so much of my life (including parish life). I've also always been attracted to the Jewish idea of beginning the year in the fall, when the refreshing rains return to Israel, filling the cisterns and bringing the land back to life after the scorching dry season of summer. 

As I get older, of course, other images predominate, and the life-cycle symbolism of the seasons takes on added significance. So I began this first day of fall, with Shakespeare's Sonnet 73

That time of year thou mayest in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thou see'st the twilight of such day
As after sunset fadeth in the west;
Which by and by black night doth take away,
Death's second self, that seals up all the rest.
In me thou see'st the glowing of such fire
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the death-bed whereon it must expire
consum'd with that which it was nourish'd by.
This thous perceivest, which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well which thou must leave ere long.

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