Be Gentle in Mellow Fruitfulness

“Season of Mists and Mellow Fruitfulness” “To Autumn” by John Keats

Autumn is the season of gathering in and appreciating the fruit and blessings of our lives, those we have offered and those we have received.   I return to the theme of gentleness because the exhaustion and weariness I sense in myself and others is best addressed in lovingkindness and patience and gratitude.   Let us give ourselves over to this season of mists and mellow fruitfulness. 

First, let us consider the fruit and blessings of our lives.   Whether we feel we have done too much or too little, faced too much or simply been numb, let us recall the ripening of kindnesses we have offered or received.   We know that kindness is catching.  If you let someone in to traffic, that driver is more likely to be gracious to the next driver.  A smile and a listening ear go a long way to improving our lives.

Second, autumn is both the culmination of and a time of patience.  We are entering a season in which we wait, watch, ripen.   We have planted seeds, worked toward goals, entered into spaces of healing and growth.  New growth and life does not happen quickly, though some events do seem to happen unexpectedly.   Autumn calls us to stillness and to moving slowly.  It is a time to let our souls catch up.

Finally, may we allow ourselves to cozy in.   With colder weather we go indoors.  It is time for indoor warmth and fire.   It is time for blankets and shawls and snuggling.  It is time to enjoy the fruits of our labor and gentle songs and to store up energy for the new life of spring.

To Autumn

By John Keats

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, 

   Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun; 

Conspiring with him how to load and bless 

   With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run; 

To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees, 

   And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core; 

      To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells 

   With a sweet kernel; to set budding more, 

And still more, later flowers for the bees, 

Until they think warm days will never cease, 

      For summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells. 

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store? 

   Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find 

Thee sitting careless on a granary floor, 

   Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind; 

Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep, 

   Drows’d with the fume of poppies, while thy hook 

      Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers: 

And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep 

   Steady thy laden head across a brook; 

   Or by a cyder-press, with patient look, 

      Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours. 

Where are the songs of spring? Ay, Where are they? 

   Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,— 

While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day, 

   And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue; 

Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn 

   Among the river sallows, borne aloft 

      Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies; 

And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn; 

   Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft 

   The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft; 

      And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

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