Sunday, October 26, 2008

An Autumn Evening

Dark hills against a hollow crocus sky
Scarfed with its crimson pennons, and below
The dome of sunset long, hushed valleys lie
Cradling the twilight, where the lone winds blow
And wake among the harps of leafless trees
Fantastic runes and mournful melodies.

The chilly purple air is threaded through
With silver from the rising moon afar,
And from a gulf of clear, unfathomed blue
In the southwest glimmers a great gold star
Above the darkening druid glens of fir
Where beckoning boughs and elfin voices stir.

And so I wander through the shadows still,
And look and listen with a rapt delight,
Pausing again and yet again at will
To drink the elusive beauty of the night,
Until my soul is filled, as some deep cup,
That with divine enchantment is brimmed up.

by Lucy Maude Montgomery

(Artwork: "Autumn Leaves" by John Millais) Share


Pentimento said...

I love this painting. Millais was inspired to paint it by Tennyson's lyric "Tears, Idle Tears" from the long poem "The Princess." Tennyson himself said of "Tears" that he wanted to express "not real woe, [but]. . . rather the yearning . . . for that which seems to have passed away . . . forever," and described that longing as "in a way like Saint Paul's 'groanings which cannot be uttered.'"

Thanks for this post.

elena maria vidal said...

I love "Tears, Idle Tears." Thank you for the insight.

Pentimento said...

The reason I know all this is that my doctoral dissertation (which I'm to defend next week) discusses "Tears, Idle Tears" as it relates to the painting in my avatar, "The Awakening Conscience" by William Holman Hunt. There are two identifiable pieces of sheet music in the Hunt painting. The one on the piano is "Oft in the Stilly Night" by Thomas Moore; the one on the floor (in a blue wrapper in the lower left corner) is a setting of "Tears, Idle Tears" . . . with music by Edward Lear! Lear wrote musical settings of several of Tennyson's poems, and Tennyson said he preferred Lear's settings to the many others made of his poetry during his lifetime.

elena maria vidal said...

Really, that is all so amazing.

Pentimento said...

Lear's setting of "Tears, Idle Tears" is dedicated to Mrs. Alfred Tennyson. If you're interested, email me at and I'll send you a .pdf of the title page.

Ann Murray said...

I read this here, yesterday, and now I've come back to it again - it really is a beautiful poem. I like the description of leafless harps of trees and the sky being threaded through, and the upturned crocuses,it is very rich indeed.

elena maria vidal said...

I love it, too.