Professing * Reflecting

Friday, August 25, 2006

Friday poem, More Delmore

The First Night of Fall and Falling Rain

The common rain had come again
Slanting and colorless, pale and anonymous,
Fainting falling in the first evening
Of the first perception of the actual fall,
The long and late light had slowly gathered up
A sooty wood of clouded sky, dim and distant more and
Until, at dusk, the very sense of selfhood waned,
A weakening nothing halted, diminished or denied or set
Neither tea, nor, after an hour, whiskey,
Ice and then a pleasant glow, a burning,
And the first leaping wood fire
Since a cold night in May, too long ago to be more than
Merely a cold and vivid memory.
Staring, empty, and without thought
Beyond the rising mists of the emotion of causeless
How suddenly all consciousness leaped in spontaneous
Knowing without thinking how the falling rain (outside, all
In slow sustained consistent vibration all over outside
Tapping window, streaking roof,
running down runnel and drain
Waking a sense, once more, of all that lived outside of us,
Beyond emotion, for beyond the swollen
distorted shadows and lights
Of the toy town and the vanity fair
of waking consciousness!

-- Delmore Schwartz

Last night it started raining well past midnight. One of the joys of living in an attic is the sound of the rain on the roof, the walls, the windows. The rain surrounds you. It was a cool night and today is a cool day. Already you can feel Fall in the air, deep Fall. Not just that first twinge, that bit of chill, but air like October air, the feel of Fall about to dig in and settle deeply.

Autumn is my favorite season. I love the melancholy, the mystery, the weird energy of the light, the air, the ripening fields, the dying leaves. It somehow holds so much more possibility than any other season, even Spring, when I can barely contain myself but whose insistent energy feels naïve. Every time I have fallen in love, really in love, it has been in Autumn. I think this has to do with deepening perception and with an irresistible desire to go inward but not alone, to nest and fortify, to be two against the cold, against the beautiful gloom, against the “rising mists of the emotion of causeless sadness.”

I love everything about this poem. That “causeless sadness” line and how all of the lines beginning with “Knowing without thinking how the falling rain (outside all around)” have the rhythm of a falling and the soft insistence of a falling rain. And then any poem with whiskey is a poem for me. How many days have I gotten through by thinking, “And ‘after an hour, whiskey’ “? Many a happy one.




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