Friday Poem – ‘Autumn Elegy’, Leslie Norris


Our Friday Poem this week marks the coming of autumn, and is taken from Leslie Norris: The Complete Poems, edited by Meic Stephens.

Leslie Norris Collected PoemsThis landmark publication of over 300 poems is a testament to a publishing life of more than sixty years. The late Leslie Norris, who died in 2007 at the age of 86, was best known as a nature poet and elegist of passion and rare expression. Lyrical and individual, to his closely observed poems, each word weighed and in its correct place, Norris introduces a strong metaphysical element which makes the poems, as Edward Lucie-Smith noted, “much larger than the sum of their parts”.

 

Autumn Elegy

September. The small summer hangs its suns
On the chestnuts, and the world bends slowly
Out of the year. On tiles of the low barns
The lingering swallows rest in this timely

Warmth, collecting it. Standing in the garden,
I too feel its generosity; but would not leave.
Time, time to lock the heart. Nothing is sudden
In Autumn, yet the long, ceremonial passion of

The year’s death comes quickly enough
As form veins shut on the sluggish blood
And the numberless protestations of the leaf
Are mapped on the air. Live wood

Was scarce and bony where I lived as a boy.
I am not accustomed to such oppulent
Panoply of dying. Yet, if I stare
Unmoved at the flaunting, silent

Agony in the country before a resonant
Wind anneals it, I am not diminished, it is not
That I do not see well, do not exult,
But that I remember again what

Young men of my own time died
In the Spring of their living and could not turn
To this. They died in their flames, hard
War destroyed them. Now as the trees burn

In the beginning glory of Autumn
I sing for all green deaths as I remember
In their broken Mays, and turn
The years back for them, every red September.

 

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