October's breath

William Cullen Bryant and Thomas Cole by Asher B. DurandLast Sunday was beautiful, crisp and clear, an unexpectedly perfect afternoon to drive with my mother and my 16 year old son Zeke to visit the cemetery where my father and grandparents are buried.  It's on a hill, very verdant, my grandmother chose a spot halfway up, just below the Workman's Circle section, which pleases my mom a lot.  As Zeke noted, it's beautiful if you look uphill, you can hear the birds singing, but once you look downhill, there's a clear view to the Jersey Turnpike and a factory belching smoke.  A very New Jersey cemetery.

What was lovely was that Zeke really engaged with my mom and me, asking questions about my dad and my grandparents. As we walked away from their graves, downhill toward the car, Zeke said "This reminds me of a poem we're studying in school," and proceeded to recite a poem that perfectly captured the day, and the moment. It's by William Cullen Bryant, and here it is:


Aye, thou art welcome, heaven's delicious breath!
When woods begin to wear the crimson leaf,
And sons grow meek, and the meek suns grow brief,
And the year smiles as it draws near its death.
Wind of the sunny south! oh, still delay
In the gay woods and in the golden air,
Like to a good old age released from care,
Journeying, in long serenity, away.
In such a bright, late quiet, would that I
Might wear out life like thee, 'mid bowers and brooks,
And dearer yet, the sunshine of kind looks,
And music of kind voices ever nigh;
And when my last sand twinkled in the glass,
Pass silently from men, as thou dost pass.


Photo by Joy Yagid