Updated: Sep 15
I remember as part of my studies at University, studying literature as a side dish course. One day our lecturer asked us to read Ode To Autumn by John Keats:
'Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run;
To bend with apples the mossed cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o'er-brimmed their clammy cell....'
He asked us what we thought it was about? Most of us agreed it was a poem about the process of life, growth, harvest etc. What we didn't know (and he informed us) was that if we knew that Keats wrote this whilst he was dying of consumption, did it change our perspective? Yes for most of us it did. Here was a great Poet in his final months and I have never since considered the poem, the same way as our initial reaction, way back in the day.
Is it sad, beautiful, full of promise, grateful, profound or, or, or (fill in the blank........)?
Whatever you believe, life and people are not always what appears on the surface and especially social media. Underlying is a story, a passion, a regret, a promise, a hope.
This year has tested many of us with accepting change. Changes are not always kind and the optimist will look for the opportunity in change. Let's be honest - sometimes optimism wont cut it and its ok to say I don't want this! Yet sometimes we feel powerless and try everything we can to make life as we want it to be - and sometimes we fail or maybe conquer!
However, we do have the power to take inspiration from nature in every moment - for we are nature too. Whether a harvest is over, a new seed emerges or the bark of a fallen tree decays; life is teeming with activity, visible and also not.
We may not always have the ability or freedom to do something, or even go somewhere we want. We may have lost income and the future is uncertain. We are asked to accept situations we have little control over and it can be tough to accept.
Yet nature, the seasons and the animal kingdom are all involved in this too. They accept and never complain, for everything and everyone is in the cycle of change - all the time and as much strength as we have, we cannot alter the universal truth - all is evolving in many ways.
Since those old Uni days, Keats's poem has remained in my thoughts every summer's end. So I thank Keats and all the other artists, writers and creators, who were inspired by nature and shared with us. We may not always know what you were thinking, coping with, or your motivation - but you gave us the gift - a reminder that whatever you went through, whatever is to come, it will change.
It's up to us what we do with that....