a touch of cold

Oct 14, 2021 poetry appreciation

You know that first smell of autumn? The first morning you leave the house and the air is different?—crisper, with that first whiff of deliciously decaying leaves? That’s one of my favourite moments in the year, and I’ve been looking for a poem which celebrates it. So far I haven’t found quite the thing—do let me know if you know one—but I did like the reference to ‘A touch of cold’ in this small but lovely poem, ‘Autumn‘, by TE Hulme. See what you think.

Sometimes it’s just one image that has you falling in love with a poem and for me, this time, it was the ‘wistful stars/
With white faces like town children’. I just love that. It’s so unexpected yet somehow so right: we can visualise the etiolated, too-much-indoors children, the pale star-glimmer made dim by the rich ‘ruddy’ autumn moon. When I looked up Hulme’s dates I discovered that he was a leading figure in the Imagist movement which, according to the Poetry Foundation, ‘relied on the resonance of concrete images drawn in precise, colloquial language rather than traditional poetic diction and meter’. Well, yup. ‘Autumn’ does exactly what it says on the Imagist tin.

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