Sunday, September 26, 2010

Poem of the Week: "Autumn Song," by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

I recently became obsessed with the six-episode BBC series Desperate Romantics. It follows the pre-Raphaelite brotherhood, a group of three British Victorian painters. I highly recommend finding a copy of this series. It's funny, a little bizarre, and occasionally melodramatic, much like the actual lives it represents. Even better, a good chunk of the paintings done in these episodes are ones I've seen myself at The Tate London (one of my favorite art museums, I'll add).

One of the painters depicted in this series was also famous as a poet - Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Personally, I've always enjoyed the work of his sister, Christina Rossetti, a lot more. But I still think he has his merits. I'm not going to lie; I find this poem a little hacky (probably because that's how Rossetti comes off on the show). But I think it has a swiftness to it that's quite nice, and it shows a surprising restraint when it comes to wordiness.

But seriously - go out and watch Desperate Romantics. It's fabulous.

Autumn Song, by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Know'st thou not at the fall of the leaf
How the heart feels a languid grief
Laid on it for a covering,
And how sleep seems a goodly thing
In Autumn at the fall of the leaf?

And how the swift beat of the brain
Falters because it is in vain,
In Autumn at the fall of the leaf
Knowest thou not? and how the chief
Of joys seems—not to suffer pain?

Know'st thou not at the fall of the leaf
How the soul feels like a dried sheaf
Bound up at length for harvesting,
And how death seems a comely thing
In Autumn at the fall of the leaf?

1 comment:

  1. I totally loved the Tate, too! I never really understood the sublime until I was in the sublime gallery there.