I have always loved August, that month where a particular coolness in the morning air on stepping out, a papery rustle tingeing the wind blowing through the trees, intimates that Summer is losing its hold upon the year, that Autumn is ascending…
August is my birth month. There is an almost, a poised melancholy about it which fits my temperament well. From a very young age I have been very aware of the transience of Life: for all its challenge, turmoil, joy, grief and seemingly endless possibility, its manifold excitements, loves and pleasures, it is soon gone: a frail leaf drifting down to the river of Time which carries everything mortal to the great Universal Sea.
Whilst in a pleasingly melancholy August mood today, I dipped into a favourite inspirational book and found this gem, which I thought I’d share, from Katherine Mansfield…
“…It is a sensation that can never be forgotten, to sit in solitude, in semi-darkness, and to watch the slow, sweet, shadowful death of a Rose.
Oh, to see the perfection of the perfumed petals being changed ever so slightly, as though a thin flame had kissed each with hot breath, and where the wounds bled the colour is savagely intense . . . I have before me such a Rose, in a thin, clear glass, and behind it a little spray of scarlet leaves. Yesterday it was beautiful with a certain serene, tearful, virginal beauty, it was strong and wholesome, and the scent was fresh and invigorating.
To-day it is heavy and languid . . . So now it dies . . . And I listen . . . for under each petal fold there lies the ghost of a dead melody, as frail and as full a as a ray of light upon a shadowed pool. Oh divine sweet Rose. Oh, exotic and elusive and deliciously vague Death..”. Katherine Mansfield: The Death of a Rose (from The Virago Book of Spirituality, Edited by Sarah Anderson, published 1996, p276 )
350 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2015
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page
14 thoughts on “As summer loses hold…a melancholy musing…”
Geography may not be destiny, but it certainly shapes our perception of the world. You’re the third person today I’ve found musing about autumn — while we’re still in the throes of intense midsummer. I found a converter, which tells me we’ll be having temperatures of 37 or 38C for the next week — and it is miserable. It’s just the way things are, here — and, actually, this is the Houston summer I remember from the 70s and 80s. As someone said today, “This isn’t global warming. This is Houston in August.”
Heavy and languid? Oh, yes. I know that feeling, and don’t envy the rose one bit. But then again — it’s hard to be poetic when you’re hot!
Yes, we in the chilly West of Scotland ( coldest year and summer for years…) are in the advance guard of getting that August feeling, methinks! but I think August is a state of mind as much as a seasonal point…
I shall send you some bottled cold Glaswegian air to cool you down!
Natalie DB via Facebook 7.8.15: It doesn’t last long, that summer beauty. I’m always in love with the end of summers’ lushness before autumn. This is cross quarter day/ Lammas, as well. Lovely poem..
Thanks, Natalie! …the end of summer’s lushness..I like that! and thanks for reminding me re Lammas. Seems appropriate.
Shannon McHugh via Facebook 7.8.15:
~ I love this line….so eloquent, beautiful & true…describes the feeling so well. ‘…Life: for all its challenge, turmoil, joy, grief and seemingly endless possibility, its manifold excitements, loves and pleasures, it is soon gone: ~a frail leaf drifting down to the river of Time which carries everything mortal to the great Universal Sea….’
Many thanks, Shannon! Glad it meant something for you. I can only write like that when feeling wistful…
Such a beautifully reflective piece xXx
As you know, Carole, reflection is but one of my positive addictions! I’m touched, though, that this piece seems to have ‘hit the spot’ with more than a few commenters and emailers. We are all quite frail, transient creatures behind our carefully crafted personae – the subtle shift to autumn each year serves as a poignant reminder of that fact.
Beautiful musings…I love roses; the look and feel and heavy aroma of a bouquet or rose bush never fails to lift my spirits.
Yes,me too, Bev…I recall many years ago, as a teenager, visiting Regents Park in London for the very first time and being utterly entranced by the visual beauty and heady scented sensuality of the rose garden. Sadly, in more recent times, the roses seem to be being bred for staying power rather than their wonderful scent…
Been feeling exactly like this lately.
Thanks for your fellow-feeling, Lisa. It’s good to know there are so many Augustian melancholics around…
Mmmm, a melancholy musing. That’s lovely too, and feeling that a bit here in New York, too (though some say it’s a recent Saturn aspect!). A happy Birth Month to you, Anne. ~ Jamie
Well, a hefty Saturn square certainly helps the melancholy along! 😎