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  • Hannah Fielding - Romance Novelist

Sprigs & Twigs

The leaves on the trees in my garden are a riot of colour: crimson and ochre and russet and gloriously ripe yellow. The lawns are scattered with fallen leaves that will soon be a rustling carpet, and with horse chestnuts, split open to reveal smooth, shiny conkers. The air has a crisp chill, and sometimes has a smoky tang. The sun is lazier to rise and more eager to sink below the hazy horizon. Autumn has come!

There is so much beauty in autumn, it is little wonder that it so inspires writers like me. As Jane Austen wrote in Persuasion:

[A]utumn, that season of peculiar and inexhaustible influence on the mind of taste and tenderness, that season which has drawn from every poet, worthy of being read, some attempt at description, or some lines of feeling. 

Today, I’m sharing with you some of my favourite autumnal quotations, as a celebration of this season of ‘mists and mellow fruitfulness’ (Keats: ‘To Autumn’). Which is your favourite?

Autumn…the year’s last, loveliest smile.

― William Cullen Bryant, Indian Summer

Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.

– George Eliot, letter to Miss Lewis, 1st October 1841

No spring nor summer’s beauty hath such grace
As I have seen in one Autumnal face….
– John Donne, ‘Elegy IX: The Autumnal’

[T]here is a harmony
In autumn, and a lustre in its sky
Which through the summer is not heard or seen,
As if it could not be, as if it had not been!

– Percy Bysshe Shelley, ‘Hymn to Intellectual Beauty’

The narrow bud opens her beauties to
The sun, and love runs in her thrilling veins;
Blossoms hang round the brows of morning, and
Flourish down the bright cheek of modest eve…
– William Blake, ‘To Autumn’

Fall, leaves, fall; die, flowers, away;
Lengthen night and shorten day!
Every leaf speaks bliss to me,
Fluttering from the autumn tree…
– Emily Brontë, ‘Fall, Leaves, Fall’

I am struck by the simplicity of light in the atmosphere in the autumn, as if the earth absorbed none, and out of this profusion of dazzling light came the autumnal tints.

– Henry David Thoreau, Journal 12th October 1852

Once more the liberal year laughs out
O’er richer stores than gems or gold:
Once more with harvest song and shout
Is nature’s boldest triumph told.
– John Greenleaf Whittier

Wild is the music of autumnal winds
Amongst the faded woods.
– William Wordsworth, ‘The Excursion’

In the other gardens
And all up the vale,
From the autumn bonfies
See the smoke trail!

Pleasant summer over
And all the summer flowers,
The red fire blazes,
the grey smoke towers.

Sing a song of seasons!
Something bright in all,
Flowers in the summer
Fires in the fall!
– Robert Louis Stevenson, ‘Autumn Fires’

Are we not better and at home
In dreamful Autumn, we who deem
No harvest joy is worth a dream?
A little while and night shall come,
A little while, then, let us dream.

― Ernest Dowson, ‘Autumnal’

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