More Real than Real: Autumn always gets me badly…

Image result for dh lawrence paintings

 Redwillow Trees by DH Lawrence      

More Real than Real

So, obviously, I’ve decided to follow through with my impulse, mentioned earlier, to post various items this month related to the Autumnal season. It has occurred to me to attempt to do this somewhat calendrically. So as we are today already at the 5th of October, I thought I’d play a little catch-up with some favored passages from other writers which deal with calendar dates already recently passed. Often a little bit fast and loose around the margins, anyway…. “Autumn needs no clock or calendar.”

This particular set of quotated passages includes something seasonal by DH Lawrence and something about Lawrence from a person who knew him closely during his days in New Mexico, my late friend Kenneth Rexroth.

But first, these:

Image result for hal borlandHal Borland

Variable Autumn

“Another equinox occurs and, by those charts and markers we use to divide time and measure our lives, today is autumn. For a little while now, days and nights will be almost equal, dawn to dusk, dusk to dawn, and the sun will rise and set almost true east and west. Then it will be October, tenth month of our twelve-month year, and moving toward the winter solstice.
      “So much for the arbitrary boundaries, which are for the almanacs and the record books, even less imperative than the figures on a sundial. The autumn with which we live is as variable as the wind, the weather, the land itself. Its schedule is that of the woodland trees, the wild grasses, the migrant birds. Go to northern Maine and you can walk with frost. Go to Carolina and you can bask in late summer sun. Travel north or south and you touch the year in another place. Stay where you are and it comes to you in its own time….
      “Leave the equinox to the record-keepers and know autumn where you find it, when it comes. See it, smell it, taste, it, and forget the time of day or year. Autumn needs no clock or calendar.”
  –Hal Borland (1900-1978), September 1967

~ ~ ~ ~

Time to Enjoy

Is it really here – my favorite month? Is it time, once again, to enjoy thirty-one days of splendid color, clear blue, cloudless skies and cool sunny afternoons? Time for those familiar stirrings inside? I’ve had those stirrings in October since I was very young.”

–Peggy Toney Horton, “Familiar Stirrings,” September 29, 2015

~ ~ ~

Image result for dh lawrence paintings

Lawrence, by Dorothy Brett (1883-1977), 1925

Where there is no autumn

“The autumn always gets me badly, as it breaks into colours. I want to go south, where there is no autumn, where the cold doesn’t crouch over one like a snow-leopard waiting to pounce.”

–D.H. Lawrence (1885-1930), letter to J.M. Murray, 3rd October 1924

More Real than real

“During his residence in Taos Lawrence carried on an affair with a very beautiful and passionate woman, tubercular like himself, which for complicated, clandestine subterfuges could not be surpassed in all the annals of the small-town ministry. Nevertheless, at parties at Mabel Dodge’s when everybody was full of sugarmoon and dancing around half or all naked and whooping and hooting and making like Geronimo, if anybody told an off-color joke Lawrence would turn beet red and then snow white and leave the room, speechless with rage. It is this incongruity which corrupted him as a man, as a prophet and as a stylist.

“He suffered another corruption too, a literal one. If one of the major factors in the tragedy of Sinclair Lewis was pustular acne, tuberculosis was equally a factor in that of Lawrence. He was a sick man. Not only that but neither he nor his wife nor his friends would face the simple medical facts of the disease. They all acted like peasants who believe that if you refuse to admit the existence of disease, it will go away. As Lawrence lay coughing out his lungs, his family and friends persisted in saying to each other, “Well, you know, Bert always was bronchial.” Lawrence’s irritability, his revulsion for society, his sexuality, all reflect morning faintness, 4 P.M. fever and night sweats.

“I’m not saying this just to be nasty. These are facts that must be coped with in a literary diagnosis of Lawrence as well as in a medical one. Koch’s Bacillus did not invalidate Lawrence as an artist any more than spirochetes [syphilis] invalidated Baudelaire or Nietzsche. The men were destroyed by the microorganisms. This took time to do and the ravages are manifest in their work. The poets and the philosopher survived. But they cannot be evaluated without taking those ravages into account. It is simply ignorant to talk about the philosophical significance of Nietzsche’s delusions when his brain was being eaten up.

“A very great deal survives in Lawrence. He is certainly one of the major poets of the twentieth century, along with Guillaume Apollinaire and William Carlos Williams. He is one of the leaders in the rejection of rhetoric and Symbolism and the return of poetry to colloquial honesty and presentational immediacy. This was one of the remarkable bouleversements in the history of the human sensibility. It put to rest once and for all many of the major esthetic quarrels that have dogged literature since Euripides and Sophocles, the conflict of classicism and romanticism, form and content, architecture and emotion, and fulfilled countless programs of the sort promulgated in the preface to Lyrical Ballads or in the Imagist Manifesto.

“Several of his poems in Birds, Beasts and Flowers and his death poem, “Blue Gentians,” are the perfect expression of what in England was called the Imagist esthetic. They are quite the equal of anything by Apollinaire, Reverdy or William Carlos Williams. The only English poem of the period that compares with them is Ford Madox Ford’s “L’Oubli, Temps de Sécheresse.” Lawrence may have been sick, but poetry like this will always be a life-giving metaphor for literature, a mithridate for the young poet. For the layman it will always be a permanently memorable experience, more real than real. That, after all, is all Lawrence wanted.”

–Kenneth Rexroth (1905-1982), from “D.H.Lawrence: The Other Face of the Coin” (1964)

Rexroth’s review of The Complete Poems of D.H. Lawrence and The Painting of D.H. Lawrence originally appeared in The Nation (23 November 1964) and was reprinted in With Eye and Ear (Herder & Herder, 1970). Copyright 1964. Rights held by the Kenneth Rexroth Trust.




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