Cat-like, almost unseen
are the curling jumps in the air
the mind takes, by hedge-holly evergreen
and fallen light brown parchment everywhere,
as out in autumn body-mind patrols
the roads. The dead leaves rustle past my soles.
Now I am tired and most awake: the old
familiar obscenity chalked upon
the pavement is quite stale: it leaves me cold;
no more a sparking anger. I have won
the right, it seems, to move in this chill breeze
as if my mind discovered autumn’s ease.
The clockwork world rides smoothly on: a train
indolently roller-skating a bridge
is gone: and pedalled down the lane
a bicycle … it is the average
contentment, now, comes waltzing through the air,
with urban background noises everywhere.
When they shoot down, the brindled chestnut-leaves
occasion rain-excitement … and the birds
as they start up, in splintering semibreves
of sound, dictate far more than shelves of words;
and when I scuff the parchment on the ground,
it yields more than a whole bookcase of sound.
And now the sun, light-green-and-yellow-fanned,
with sea-sky-blue beyond, jumps off the trunks –
a moment’s calm amazement is at hand
and gone: the normal ridges, spaces, chunks
that make the homely knockabout afternoon
are back in order. Deft-shaped as a spoon
the random world can seem, and far more gleaming.
And I am on a plain past stone, past glass,
with all imaginable patterns teeming
though nothing grows on it. Rich as thick grass
it is, yet level; hard, yet soft. I’m blind
being in the mind, the richness of the mind.
And back to road: where now the brown curled leaves
admit their knowledge, and I hear
staccato broadcast which my mind believes
in London, this late twentieth-century year.
To read the news now, as it comes to me
right from the leaves, with autumn’s guarantee
is out, beyond my brief. Now I return
all fresh and clean
inside. This autumn walk has let me learn
my own, the district’s and the national scene
and international. All my thoughts, my being,
are ratified, assisted to a new freeing.
Little it is
to go out in October, and each man
should do it: for his life is only his
if he will let it live in Nature’s plan
for half an hour each now and then. The ease
that he will find is mightier than the trees.