Saturday, September 21, 2013

Fall Meditation

Perception passes mostly unnoticed from the present into a carousel of snapshots in memory. The repetition of seasons, while predictable, predictably come to an end for every life.

Early Autumn
Qián Xuǎn (钱选 /錢選), 13th Century, Ink on Paper

The imagery in Qián Xuǎn's drawing Early Autumn above, and the words in J.R.R. Tolkien's poem below, express a bittersweet recognition of the repetition and finality of living and the melancholic passage of time.

I sit beside the fire and think
Of all that I have seen
Of meadow flowers and butterflies
In summers that have been

Of yellow leaves and gossamer
In autumns that there were
With morning mist and silver sun
And wind upon my hair

I sit beside the fire and think
Of how the world will be
When winter comes without a spring
That I shall ever see

For still there are so many things
That I have never seen
In every wood in every spring
There is a different green

I sit beside the fire and think
Of people long ago
And people that will see a world
That I shall never know

But all the while I sit and think
Of times there were before
I listen for returning feet
And voices at the door

J.R.R. Tolkien

Tolkien repeats the line, "I sit beside the fire and think" to mirror the repetition of the seasons. Then in the closing lines, deftly coaxes the reader to experience our senses by listening for returning feet.