Autumn

Go, sit upon the lofty hill,
And turn your eyes around,
Where waving woods and waters wild
Do hymn an autumn sound.
The summer sun is faint on them —
The summer flowers depart —
Sit still — as all transform’d to stone,
Except your musing heart.

How there you sat in summer-time,
May yet be in your mind;
And how you heard the green woods sing
Beneath the freshening wind.
Though the same wind now blows around,
You would its blast recall;
For every breath that stirs the trees,
Doth cause a leaf to fall.

Oh! like that wind, is all the mirth
That flesh and dust impart:
We cannot bear its visitings,
When change is on the heart.
Gay words and jests may make us smile,
When Sorrow is asleep;
But other things must make us smile,
When Sorrow bids us weep!

The dearest hands that clasp our hands, —
Their presence may be o’er;
The dearest voice that meets our ear,
That tone may come no more!
Youth fades; and then, the joys of youth,
Which once refresh’d our mind,
Shall come — as, on those sighing woods,
The chilling autumn wind.

Hear not the wind — view not the woods;
Look out o’er vale and hill —
In spring, the sky encircled them —
The sky is round them still.
Come autumn’s scathe — come winter’s cold —
Come change — and human fate!
Whatever prospect Heaven doth bound,
Can ne’er be desolate.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

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Lyric night of the lingering Indian Summer,
Shadowy fields that are scentless but full of singing,
Never a bird, but the passionless chant of insects,
Ceaseless, insistent.

The grasshopper’s horn, and far-off, high in the maples,
The wheel of a locust leisurely grinding the silence
Under a moon waning and worn, broken,
Tired with summer.

Let me remember you, voices of little insects,
Weeds in the moonlight, fields that are tangled with asters,
Let me remember, soon will the winter be on us,
Snow-hushed and heavy.

Over my soul murmur your mute benediction,
While I gaze, O fields that rest after harvest,
As those who part look long in the eyes they lean to,
Lest they forget them.

Sarah Teasdale

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All day I have watched the purple vine leaves
Fall into the water.
And now in the moonlight they still fall,
But each leaf is fringed with silver.

Amy Lowell

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The moon has set
and the Pleiades;
it is midnight,
the time is going by,
and I sleep alone.

Sappho

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Lately

IMG_5520Gas towers in Hackney in east London. I love these, the utilitarian, steampunky beauty of them.
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Beautiful graffiti in Hackney.
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Constable’s clouds over Berkshire.
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IMG_5590From the city streets to the country. I visited the Stanlake Park winery in Twyford, Berkshire, with some friends couple of weeks ago and heartily recommend it. The vineyards and gardens are beautiful, the wine fairly good and very reasonably priced, and Ruth the tour guide lovely and hilarious.
IMG_5680Constable’s clouds over Gloucestershire.
IMG_5724Maple avenues in Cornbury Park, near Wychwood Forest, our second day destination.
IMG_5666Welcome to Cotswolds.
IMG_5667Autumn.
IMG_5739Roman snail crossing the road near Charlbury train station.
IMG_5675From home counties to Cotswolds. I spend the August Bank Holiday weekend in Costswolds, walking, eating, spending time with a friend. The summer has faded into autumn rather quickly, and the landscapes are breathtaking – from a hillside opens a view of ranges of hills, sprinkled with little hamlets and church towers, clouds of smoke from gardeners burning leaves rising here and there. There is something comforting about the vast silence of the countryside, but also something eerie, hostile almost. There are abandoned barns and plague villages, and the place names suggest of past horrors. Ask me sometime why Dancer’s Hill is called so.

English summer

Over the past couple of weekends, I have spent some time in the Cotswolds (an area located roughly between Oxford in the east and Gloucester in the West, Stradford in the north and Bath in the south, famous for its golden sandstone), both rambling and taking photos, and visiting friends. We have had two glorious weekends, and suddenly the landscape has gone from barely spring to height of summer.

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Not sure what these little guys are, but I love the look of them.

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I love cowparsley. Have I mentioned this?

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The park of Cornbury Park, a country house near Charlbury.

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Bridge over the river Evenloe.

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These oaks in the Cornbury Park are so majestic.

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This is built of the Cotswolds sandstone – the colour is very distinctive. The village where Downton Abbey is filmed is in Warwickshire, and the houses are all made of this stone; makes the show rather pretty, but also makes it look nothing like the Yorkshire, where it’s supposedly set.

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Swinbrook village.

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Freddie the ridiculously photogenic dog.

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Hawthorn.

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Widford chapel. Cotswolds is supposed to be positively gothic, and I heard two stories over the weekend that certainly were. Widford is very close to the Mitford family house near Swinbrook; it’s still called hamlet in ordnance survey maps, but in reality nothing remains if this 13th century village but the church. The residents all died during a plague epidemic, and the houses were stolen – taken away stone by stone until only this chapel remained. Painted on the walls are saints and the devil – red, with horns and claws and a trident-shaped tail. The Medieval murals have been painted over, so nothing but ghosts of these images remain.

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The other story was about a place called Dancer’s Hill. Pretty enough name, but it doesn’t really refer to dancing. On the hill, there was a 16th century gaol, and outside it a hanging tree. “Dancing” refers to the twitching movements of those hanging from the tree while they died…

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Swinbrook church.

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