I love autumn—the sound of rustling leaves in the cold wind, the skeletal trees silhouetted against dark skies, the smell of foliage beginning to decay. For me, the season symbolizes the end of growth and the vibrant transition to death, with a promise to be reborn after the cold, white season of rest. I decided to read something this morning that spoke of autumn, so I pulled my copy of The Complete Poems of Robert Frost off my shelf, figuring that would be a good place to look. And there, the third poem listed in the table of contents, was “My November Guest.”
My Sorrow, when she’s here with me,
Thinks these dark days of autumn rain
Are beautiful as days can be;
She loves the bare, the withered tree;
She walks the sodden pasture lane.
Her pleasure will not let me stay.
She talks and I am fain to list:
She’s glad the birds are gone away,
She’s glad her simple worsted gray
Is silver now with clinging mist.
The desolate, deserted trees,
The faded earth, the heavy sky,
The beauties she so truly sees,
She thinks I have no eye for these,
And vexes me for reason why.
Not yesterday I learned to know
The love of bare November days
Before the coming of the snow,
But it were vain to tell her so,
For they are better for her praise.
This poem expresses exactly how I am feeling as I listen to the steady wind outside my window. It’s a strange blend of sadness and wonder. Although Nature is in her final stages, shaking off the last vestiges of life, there is the promise of renewal. Come spring, the cycle will begin anew.
Like Frost, it was “not yesterday that I learned to know the love of bare November days.” This is something I have always felt, a feeling instilled in me as a child camping and exploring in the woods of the northeast. I’m grateful to live in a place where I can experience the seasons and witness Nature’s cycles each year. There is something spiritual about it that is difficult to express, although Robert Frost does it quite well.