Seasonal change is a popular theme within media and literature, particularly in the realm of poetry. Why is this the case? Perhaps, it is due to the fact that changes within the environment often reflect us as individuals. When the leaves fall, so do our moods; many people fall into seasonal depression or periods of lethargy. Look bright, soldier, this year is nearly over! Before we know it, the leaves will grow back, bolstering our health and spirits. To celebrate seasonal changes, I knew that I wished to write a poem about the coming of winter. In order to better understand our fascination with the changes of the season I decided to research seasonal poetry further.
Within my research, I considered the works of Emily Dickinson, Annette Wynne amongst others. I was immediately struck by the recurring feature of seasonal poetry and the frequent use of conceits - an extended metaphor often used to create an abstract comparison. The conceits I discovered included imagery of warmth, clarity and wealth used to emphasise spring and summer, while winter is often seen as a barren landscape, from which all life has disappeared. I held this concept in mind when crafting my own poem.
I particularly concentrated on the imagery of birds disappearing which appears in Rossetti's 'Seasons', as well as in Hardy's 'The Seasons of Her Year'. I decided to borrow this concept as it appeared typical to the style I was attempting to replicate. The poem below, titled "December", was my final product.
So frugal it is, dormant, hidden under pearl-white sheets; the leaves withered.
They whisper, share secrets, witness the talk of the shrew and the bee, or the flight of the cuckoo from the tree. Their time has been tethered. It is all so beautiful, until it shrivels, reminiscent of old leaflets.
There are no shrews in winter-
Asleep they all lay,
Comfortable somewhere, hidden away
Therefore, the leaves have no more tales to tell, no more bees or birds,
they have become frail, left the trees and the bears alone, they all fell.
And they decay,
while we warm up with honey ale.
As blooms rise once more,
the birds down on the floor chew them up with chestnut seeds,
or spread them somewhere in the breeze.
When the sun rays dance once more and we return outside our doors,
the leaves are back,
they bud and yawn,
knowing there is a fresh year of hardship bound with time.
The shrews awaken,
prepared to forage,
The birds swoop down,
to share their knowledge.
where withered leaves once were.
It has passed.
I hoped to capture the idea that there is no shame in feeling down about seasonal changes: they pass by quickly, yet it is also important to understand the beauty that comes with the cycle of the different seasons. If we are too determined to hide away from the elements in winter, how are we supposed to notice nature’s finest aspects?
I hope that my poem will stay with you, even if it is only temporarily, just as winter does. If this type of poetry is something that you enjoy, I recommend reading ‘Autumn Fires’ by Robert Louis Stevenson, as well as the works of Christina Rossetti. These two poets do a much better job at inspiring the mind than I ever could, yet I have enjoyed my venture into the ephemeral world of seasonal poetry.