Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

(27 February 1807 – 24 March 1882 / Portland, Maine)

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Autumn


Thou comest, Autumn, heralded by the rain,
With banners, by great gales incessant fanned,
Brighter than brightest silks of Samarcand,
........................
........................
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  • Evangeline Tanner (6/1/2013 2:25:00 PM)

    Redolent with description..oh, imperial autumn, I value this, but prefer Robert
    Frost's rural flavor of autumn in the countryside, (Report) Reply

  • Manonton Dalan (6/1/2012 4:40:00 AM)

    wow! poem of the day is about autumn. it's burning hot where i am not.
    maybe it's reverse psychology so i will feel better. (Report) Reply

  • Terence George Craddock (6/1/2010 10:33:00 PM)

    My interpretation of ‘Autumn’ by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, is that the poem is a metaphor for the reign of Charlemagne, who was in the medieval mind, the finest example of what a Christian king could be. Therefore the autumn, before the descent after Charlemagne’s reign into medieval winter.
    The octave begins ‘Thou comest, Autumn, heralded by the rain, /With banners, by great gales incessant fanned’. This represents as ‘great gales incessant’ fanned, the fifty-three campaigns of Charlemagne, almost all of which he lead himself. The octave finishes with ‘Outstretched with benedictions o'er the land, /Blessing the farms through all thy vast domain! ’. Can anyone dispute that the octave is the establishment of Charlemagne’s ‘empire by conquering and Christianizing Bavaria and Saxony, destroying the troublesome Avars, shielding Italy from the raiding Saracans, and strengthening the defenses of Francia against the expanding Moors of Spain.’
    The lines ‘Brighter than brightest silks of Samarcand, /And stately oxen harnessed to thy wain! ’ refer to Charlemagne’s last campaigns when he defeated and dispersed the Avars from 790-805. Finally in the thirty-fourth year of his reign at sixty-three years of age, he established peace throughout his kingdom. The European Avars were nomad warriors, which explains the oxen wagons, typical of ‘a highly organized nomadic confederacy’ of close knit tribes under a khagan, old Turkic for khan. The lines do not refer to Timur, commonly known as Tamerlane (1336-1404) .
    Samarcand in Russia is symbolic of the golden silk road, as the city occupied a central position on the Silk Road between China and the West. It became Islamic in 675 C.E. when taken by the Arabs. Longfellow is implying that Charlemagne was also on a golden road as a protector of Christianity. In 774 Charlemagne took Pavia, assumed the crown of Lombardy and ‘accepted the role of protector of the Church in all her temporal powers.’ ‘Outstretched with benedictions o'er the land’ indicates his success in this. Charlemagne took his role of a Christian protector seriously, after Saxons burned down a Christian church and made incursions into Gaul, he lead eighteen campaigns against them (772-804) . ‘Charles gave the conquered Saxons a choice between baptism and death, and had 4500 Saxon rebels beheaded in one day; after which he proceeded to Thionville to celebrate the nativity of Christ.’
    This explains the sestet beginning ‘Thy shield is the red harvest moon, suspended /So long beneath the heaven's o'er-hanging eaves; ’. Charlemagne was the answer to ‘the farmer's prayers attended; ’. He not only protected them from pagan invaders but also ‘established a system of poor relief, taxed the nobles and the clergy to pay its costs.’ ‘Charlemagne struggled to protect a free peasantry against spreading serfdom’ which peasants were enslaved in during the winter of the medieval age after his rule.
    The sestet in conclusion celebrates Charlemagne great ‘ovation splendid’ both as the returning military hero who received enthusiastic support from his people. And as a great ruler who does not neglect his Christian duty to distribute alms to the poor. The ‘Thine almoner, the wind, scatters the golden leaves! ’ refers to his tax relief. Charlemagne as a great blessing showers a fortune upon the deserving poor. This poem as a seasonal metaphor and tribute to the reign of Charlemagne, is an amazingly accurate poetic piece of writing. An amazing poetic effort. (Report) Reply

    Narita Zaraki (6/1/2014 4:31:00 AM)

    Wow... I never thought of it in that sense. Thank you! ! That was amazing.

  • Kevin Straw (6/1/2010 5:57:00 AM)

    This poem, in its puffed up and imprecise, use of metaphor is precisely what Shakespeare was satirizing in his Sonnet 21 'So it is not with me as with that Muse/Stirred by a painted beauty to his verse/Who heaven itself for ornament doth use/And every fair with his fair doth rehearse.'
    When you read poetry for God's sake switch your brains on! Not everything published is perfect by any means. A poet, when writing a poem, will alter and delet all the time because he or she is dissatisfied. Metaphor is particularly difficult to get right - it should clarify the waters not muddy them. (Report) Reply

  • Michael Pruchnicki (6/1/2009 1:53:00 PM)

    Of course, a 'wain' may be likened to a 'caisson'! One definition of which may be Longfellow's meaning - 'a two-wheeled wagon for transporting ammunition' - appropriate for either Charlemagne or Patton! (Report) Reply

  • Michael Pruchnicki (6/1/2009 1:47:00 PM)

    Who are you responding to, Michael Harmon? You confuse the issue (whatever it may be) by the pseudo-scholarly citations you post verbatim from Harper and Lander! We are all impressed by your extended biography and its corollaries, as well as your B.A. in English Literature from Long Island University (1973) , OK? Are you in Straw's camp or not? I honestly cannot tell from your postings here or elsewhere (John Masefield's poem) ! (Report) Reply

  • Michael Harmon (6/1/2009 12:29:00 PM)

    wain

    O.E. wægn 'wheeled vehicle, ' from P.Gmc. *wagnaz (see wagon) . Largely fallen from use by c.1600, but kept alive by poets, who found it easier to rhyme on than wagon. Wainwright 'wagon-builder' is O.E. wægn-wyrhta.
    Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2001 Douglas Harper (Report) Reply

  • Michael Harmon (6/1/2009 12:25:00 PM)

    I. Argumentum ad Hominem (abusive and circumstantial) : the fallacy of attacking the character or circumstances of an individual who is advancing a statement or an argument instead of trying to disprove the truth of the statement or the soundness of the argument. Often the argument is characterized simply as a personal attack.
    A. The personal attack is also often termed an 'ad personem argument': the statement or argument at issue is dropped from consideration or is ignored, and the locutor's character or circumstances are used to influence opinion.
    B. The fallacy draws its appeal from the technique of 'getting personal.' The assumption is that what the locutor is saying is entirely or partially dictated by his character or special circumstances and so should be disregarded.
    http: //philosophy.lander.edu/logic/person.html (Report) Reply

  • Michael Pruchnicki (6/1/2009 8:36:00 AM)

    To go through Straw's dyspeptic analysis line by line would take more time than it's worth. How does one make any clearer that 'rain and great gales incessant' represent the very essence of a majestic progress - all that apparent chaos harnessed and controlled like the march of legions, bugles blaring and bagpipes sounding! Autumn's colors are brighter than the silks of Samarcand (capital of Tamerlane's empire in the 14th and 15th centuries) because colors imagined are brighter and more vivid than the real thing. Does Straw not have any imagination? He must be one dull reader! You mean he's never looked up at a cloudy sky and seen those 'eaves of Heaven' in the edges of clouds that seem to project from Heaven's roof? Let Straw post one poem half as good as this one, and I'll grant him a crown of laurel! (Report) Reply

  • Kevin Straw (6/1/2009 5:41:00 AM)

    What is there in the rain that can be said to 'herald' Autumn? The combination of rain and 'great gales incessant' seems to me more conducive to chaos than a majestic progress. How are the colours of Autumn brighter than the brighter silks of Samarcand. I have never thought of Autumn's colours as bright. Anyway, did Longfellow ever see the silks of Samarcand? Autumn, says Longfellow, has stately oxen harnessed to it. What in Autumn resembles oxen, I think they would be less than stately hauling Autumn about in all that wind and rain! And where does the bridge of gold come in to the picture of Autumn - Longfellow makes this bridge belong, not to Charlemagne, but to the season itself. Autumn is being pulled along by oxen in its chariot, and it's standing on a bridge of gold. 'So long' is wrong - I suspect it's a 'filler' because L could not find a more suitable phrase. And what are the 'eaves' of heaven? (Report) Reply

  • Joseph Poewhit (6/1/2009 5:13:00 AM)

    I read Longfellow and his words just have an aura of texture in flow and depths of feelings. His inner love can be felt by the words softness. [ one of the greats ] (Report) Reply

  • Michael Pruchnicki (6/1/2008 1:11:00 PM)

    An apostrohe to Autumn in the majestic form of an Italian sonnet rhyming ABBA ABBA CDC DCD. The initial eight lines (the octave) arrives on the scene like a conquering and benevolent king, 'like imperial Charlemagne' (Charles the Great) is the simile that compares the magnificence of a season to that of the great king of western Europe who influenced his land and people like a force of nature. The land thrives and its people benefit from a good king's royal largess.

    The second part, the six lines making up the sestet, bring to life the various attributes of Autumn in an extended metaphor. The king's shield is the red harvest moon, hanging in the heavens like a shield upon a wall. Sheaves shining on the altar are like golden flames - the harvest moon is celebrated by the folks who reap the crops they have sown at the end of the growing season. Choirs sing praises to the kingly god Autumn, as his almoner (one who distributes the wealth of the kingdom) scatters golden leaves of harvested grains like alms over the land.

    Relaxing and sweet as a sacred ceremony is Longfellow's sonnet to Autumn in all its majesty! (Report) Reply

  • Kayann Burrell (6/1/2006 4:51:00 PM)

    i think that this poem was very straight forward and to the point.
    I found it to be relaxing and sweet. I love autumn so this poem was nice (Report) Reply

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