When autumn days with summer’s voice come bearing summer’s gifts

I have shared this poem before, several years ago… This is what I wrote about it then:

Helen Fiske is a poet and novelist of whom I know next to nothing; I had not even come across her name before today… however, I found this poem about autumn, about November, and although we have another sunny autumn day today, I’m sure we’ll have more typical weather before too long.

Helen Fiske was born in 1830 in Massachusetts, the daughter of the amazingly named Nat Welby Fiske and Deborielle Waterman Vinal. I can’t help but reflect that I am often criticised for the unusual names of characters in my books, but in real life real people have much more extraordinary names.

Helen’s life seems marked by tragedy, her two little brothers died at birth, her mother died when she was only fifteen, and her father died when she was eighteen. She married a Mr Hunt when she was twenty-two and had two sons, one died as an infant in 1854, when Helen was only twenty-four, her husband died in 1863, and her other son died as a teenage boy in 1865. Helen married again, in 1875, a Mr Jackson and she took his name, and was quite irritated when her first married name remained attached to her and she was widely known as Helen Hunt Jackson.

She became involved in trying to draw attention to the dreadful plight of the native American peoples, many of whom had been moved hundreds of miles from the own homelands to ‘reservations’ and ‘territories’. She is most well-known for her non-fiction book called ‘A Century of Dishonour’ and  her novel ‘Ramona’.

Here is a less controversial piece by her:

November

This is the treacherous month when autumn days
With summer’s voice come bearing summer’s gifts.
Beguiled, the pale down-trodden aster lifts
Her head and blooms again. The soft, warm haze
Makes moist once more the sere and dusty ways,
And, creeping through where dead leaves lie in drifts,
The violet returns. Snow noiseless sifts
Ere night, an icy shroud, which morning’s rays
Will idly shine upon and slowly melt,
Too late to bid the violet live again.
The treachery, at last, too late, is plain;
Bare are the places where the sweet flowers dwelt.
What joy sufficient hath November felt?
What profit from the violet’s day of pain?

Helen Hunt Jackson 1830-1885

The month of carnival

The air has changed… it’s not just that tonight was cold, a clear sky and a frostiness about, something in the quality has changed – autumn to winter.  We were walking out at about 9:30 and it was almost a scent, almost the feel of the night on our cheeks and noses… the air has changed.

After tonight there will only be one more day of October, so here is something from Helen Hunt Jackson who was born this month one hundred and eighty-seven years ago:

A Calendar Of Sonnets: October 

The month of carnival of all the year,
When Nature lets the wild earth go its way,
And spend whole seasons on a single day.
The spring-time holds her white and purple dear;
October, lavish, flaunts them far and near;
The summer charily her reds doth lay
Like jewels on her costliest array;
October, scornful, burns them on a bier.
The winter hoards his pearls of frost in sign
Of kingdom: whiter pearls than winter knew,
Oar empress wore, in Egypt’s ancient line,
October, feasting ‘neath her dome of blue,
Drinks at a single draught, slow filtered through
Sunshiny air, as in a tingling wine!

Helen Hunt Jackson: 1830-1885

Still lie the sheltering snows

The winter months in the northern states North America can be grim, long and very cold; imagine how much grimmer,. longer and very much colder it was a hundred and fifty years ago! Helen Hunt Jackson wrote ‘A Calendar of Sonnets’ and here is her chilly sonnet for February – with just a hint of spring with the catkins and reddening willow stems:

Still lie the sheltering snows, undimmed and white;
And reigns the winter’s pregnant silence still;
No sign of spring, save that the catkins fill,
And willow stems grow daily red and bright.
These are days when ancients held a rite
Of expiation for the old year’s ill,
And prayer to purify the new year’s will:
Fit days, ere yet the spring rains blur the sight,
Ere yet the bounding blood grows hot with haste,
And dreaming thoughts grow heavy with a greed
The ardent summer’s joy to have and taste;
Fit days, to give to last year’s losses heed,
To recon clear the new life’s sterner need;
Fit days, for Feast of Expiation placed!

Helen Hunt Jackson

O Winter! Frozen pulse and heart of fire,

Helen Hunt Jackson was not a poet I knew until fairly recently. here is what I wrote about her a little while ago:

Helen Fiske is a poet and novelist of whom I know next to nothing; I had not even come across her name before today… however, I found this poem about autumn, about November, and although we have another sunny autumn day today, I’m sure we’ll have more typical weather before too long.

Helen Fiske was born in 1835 in Massachusetts, the daughter of the amazingly named Nat Welby Fiske and Deborielle Waterman Vinal. I can’t help but reflect that I am often criticised for the unusual names of characters in my books, but in real life real people have much more extraordinary names.

Helen’s life seems marked by tragedy, her two little brothers died at birth, her mother died when she was only fifteen, and her father died when she was eighteen. She married a Mr Hunt when she was twenty-two and had two sons, one died as an infant in 1854, when Helen was only twenty-four, her husband died in 1863, and her other son died as a teenage boy in 1865. Helen married again, in 1875, a Mr Jackson and she took his name, and was quite irritated when her first married name remained attached to her and she was widely known as Helen Hunt Jackson.

She became involved in trying to draw attention to the dreadful plight of the native American peoples, many of whom had been moved hundreds of miles from the own homelands to ‘reservations’ and ‘territories’. She is most well-known for her non-fiction book called ‘A Century of Dishonour’ and  her novel ‘Ramona’.

From  ‘A Calendar Of Sonnets’ here is January

O Winter! frozen pulse and heart of fire,
What loss is theirs who from thy kingdom turn
Dismayed, and think thy snow a sculptured urn
Of death! Far sooner in midsummer tire
The streams than under ice. June could not hire
Her roses to forego the strength they learn
In sleeping on thy breast. No fires can burn
The bridges thou dost lay where men desire
In vain to build.
O Heart, when Love’s sun goes
To northward, and the sounds of singing cease,
Keep warm by inner fires, and rest in peace.
Sleep on content, as sleeps the patient rose.
Walk boldly on the white untrodden snows,
The winter is the winter’s own release.

November

Helen Fiske is a poet and novelist of whom I know next to nothing; I had not even come across her name before today… however, I found this poem about autumn, about November, and although we have another sunny autumn day today, I’m sure we’ll have more typical weather before too long.

Helen Fiske was born in 1835 in Massachusetts, the daughter of the amazingly named Nat Welby Fiske and Deborielle Waterman Vinal. I can’t help but reflect that I am often criticised for the unusual names of characters in my books, but in real life real people have much more extraordinary names.

Helen’s life seems marked by tragedy, her two little brothers died at birth, her mother died when she was only fifteen, and her father died when she was eighteen. She married a Mr Hunt when she was twenty-two and had two sons, one died as an infant in 1854, when Helen was only twenty-four, her husband died in 1863, and her other son died as a teenage boy in 1865. Helen married again, in 1875, a Mr Jackson and she took his name, and was quite irritated when her first married name remained attached to her and she was widely known as Helen Hunt Jackson.

She became involved in trying to draw attention to the dreadful plight of the native American peoples, many of whom had been moved hundreds of miles from the own homelands to ‘reservations’ and ‘territories’. She is most well-known for her non-fiction book called ‘A Century of Dishonour’ and  her novel ‘Ramona’.

Here is a less controversial piece by her:

November

This is the treacherous month when autumn days
With summer’s voice come bearing summer’s gifts.
Beguiled, the pale down-trodden aster lifts
Her head and blooms again. The soft, warm haze
Makes moist once more the sere and dusty ways,
And, creeping through where dead leaves lie in drifts,
The violet returns. Snow noiseless sifts
Ere night, an icy shroud, which morning’s rays
Will idly shine upon and slowly melt,
Too late to bid the violet live again.
The treachery, at last, too late, is plain;
Bare are the places where the sweet flowers dwelt.
What joy sufficient hath November felt?
What profit from the violet’s day of pain?

Helen Hunt Jackson 1830-1885

Poppies… on a sunny day

 

This is such a sweet poem. Helen Jackson was born in 1830 and was a writer and poet. She was an advocate on behalf of native American people, worrking constantly for better (and even some) recognition of their rights. It is a lovely sunny summer’s day today and I can just imagine a poppy in a wheat field.

Poppies on the Wheat

by Helen Hunt Jackson

Along Ancona’s hills the shimmering heat,

A tropic tide of air with ebb and flow

Bathes all the fields of wheat until they glow

Like flashing seas of green, which toss and beat

Around the vines. The poppies lithe and fleet

Seem running, fiery torchmen, to and fro

To mark the shore.

The farmer does not know

That they are there. He walks with heavy feet,

Counting the bread and wine by autumn’s gain,

But I,–I smile to think that days remain

Perhaps to me in which, though bread be sweet

No more, and red wine warm my blood in vain,

I shall be glad remembering how the fleet,

Lithe poppies ran like torchmen with the wheat.