Welcoming September 2015

Welcoming September

Below – The Morning Glory, the flower Associated with September.
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Greeting September – Origins

In the words of one historian, “September (from Latin septem, ‘seven’) was originally the seventh of ten months on the oldest known Roman calendar, with March (Latin Martius) the first month of the year until perhaps as late as 153 BC. After the calendar reform that added January and February to the beginning of the year, September became the ninth month, but retained its name. It had 29 days until the Julian reform, which added a day.”

Below – “September,” from the “Tres Riches Heures du Duc de Berry” (1412-1416).
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Greeting September with Art – Paul Emile Chabas: “September Morn”

“September Morn” is easily the most famous – and notorious – September-themed painting in the history of art, thanks to a pair of sanctimonious American buffoons. In the words of one historian, “Chabas first exhibited the painting in the Paris Salon of 1912, where it won a medal but did not create any sensation. The next year, when it was displayed in a window of an art gallery in Chicago, Illinois, it came to the attention of the mayor of the city, Carter Harrison, Jr., who charged the owner of the gallery with indecency. The resulting court case, which the art dealer won, made the painting famous.
Two months after the conclusion of the Chicago trial, Anthony Comstock (1844–1915), a self-appointed crusader against ‘vice,’ threatened a New York City art dealer who was displaying the painting in his window. However, Comstock never followed up this threat with legal action.”
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Greeting September with Song – Neil Diamond: “September Morn”

Greeting September with Poetry: Emily Dickinson

The last of Summer is Delight —
Deterred by Retrospect.
‘Tis Ecstasy’s revealed Review —
Enchantment’s Syndicate.

To meet it — nameless as it is —
Without celestial Mail —
Audacious as without a Knock
To walk within the Veil.
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On this Date – Part I of II: Nobel Laureate Francois Mauriac

“Men resemble great deserted palaces: the owner occupies only a few rooms and has closed-off wings where he never ventures.” – Francois Mauriac, French author and recipient of the 1952 Nobel Prize in Literature “for the deep spiritual insight and the artistic intensity with which he has in his novels penetrated the drama of human life,” who died 1 September 1970.

A few quotes from Francois Mauriac:

“If you would tell me the heart of a man, tell me not what he reads, but what he rereads.”
“No love, no friendship, can cross the path of our destiny without leaving some mark on it forever.”
“To love someone is to see a miracle invisible to others.”
“We know well only what we are deprived of.”
“The sin against nature [is] – compulsory celibacy”
“By the time dusk fell, he was back in his room. The last of the daylight lay like fine ashes on the roof-tops. He did not light his lamp, but sat by the fireplace in the dark, seeking in the far distance of his past some vague memory of a love-affair, some recollection of a friendship, with which to soften the hard tyranny of isolation.”

Greeting September with Art – Nicola Wiehahn: “September: River’s Edge”
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Greeting September with Prose: Robert Finch

But now in September the garden has cooled, and with it my possessiveness. The sun warms my back instead of beating on my head … The harvest has dwindled, and I have grown apart from the intense midsummer relationship that brought it on.

Below – Gregg Caudell: “A Man in His Garden”
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Greeting September with Song – Jerry Orbach: “Try to Remember”

On This Date – Part II of II: War and a Poet

1 September 1939 – German forces invade Poland, and World War II in Europe begins.

A great poet responds to the event:

“September 1, 1939,”
By W. H. Auden

I sit in one of the dives
On Fifty-second Street
Uncertain and afraid
As the clever hopes expire
Of a low dishonest decade:
Waves of anger and fear
Circulate over the bright
And darkened lands of the earth,
Obsessing our private lives;
The unmentionable odour of death
Offends the September night.

Accurate scholarship can
Unearth the whole offence
From Luther until now
That has driven a culture mad,
Find what occurred at Linz,
What huge imago made
A psychopathic god:
I and the public know
What all schoolchildren learn,
Those to whom evil is done
Do evil in return.

Exiled Thucydides knew
All that a speech can say
About Democracy,
And what dictators do,
The elderly rubbish they talk
To an apathetic grave;
Analysed all in his book,
The enlightenment driven away,
The habit-forming pain,
Mismanagement and grief:
We must suffer them all again.

Into this neutral air
Where blind skyscrapers use
Their full height to proclaim
The strength of Collective Man,
Each language pours its vain
Competitive excuse:
But who can live for long
In an euphoric dream;
Out of the mirror they stare,
Imperialism’s face
And the international wrong.

Faces along the bar
Cling to their average day:
The lights must never go out,
The music must always play,
All the conventions conspire
To make this fort assume
The furniture of home;
Lest we should see where we are,
Lost in a haunted wood,
Children afraid of the night
Who have never been happy or good.

The windiest militant trash
Important Persons shout
Is not so crude as our wish:
What mad Nijinsky wrote
About Diaghilev
Is true of the normal heart;
For the error bred in the bone
Of each woman and each man
Craves what it cannot have,
Not universal love
But to be loved alone.

From the conservative dark
Into the ethical life
The dense commuters come,
Repeating their morning vow;
“I will be true to the wife,
I’ll concentrate more on my work,”
And helpless governors wake
To resume their compulsory game:
Who can release them now,
Who can reach the deaf,
Who can speak for the dumb?

All I have is a voice
To undo the folded lie,
The romantic lie in the brain
Of the sensual man-in-the-street
And the lie of Authority
Whose buildings grope the sky:
There is no such thing as the State
And no one exists alone;
Hunger allows no choice
To the citizen or the police;
We must love one another or die.

Defenceless under the night
Our world in stupor lies;
Yet, dotted everywhere,
Ironic points of light
Flash out wherever the Just
Exchange their messages:
May I, composed like them
Of Eros and of dust,
Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair,
Show an affirming flame.
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Greeting September with Poetry: Galway Kinnell

I love to go out in late September
among the fat, overripe, icy, black blackberries
to eat blackberries for breakfast,
the stalks very prickly, a penalty
they earn for knowing the black art
of blackberry-making; and as I stand among them
lifting the stalks to my mouth, the ripest berries
fall almost unbidden to my tongue,
as words sometimes do, certain peculiar words
like strengths or squinched,
many-lettered, one-syllabled lumps,
which I squeeze, squinch open, and splurge well
in the silent, startled, icy, black language
of blackberry-eating in late September.

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Greeting September with Art – Debbie Lewis: “Colorado in September”
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Greeting September with Song – Melissa Etheridge: “The Late September Dogs”

Greeting September with Poetry: Stanley Kunitz

An agitation of the air,
A perturbation of the light
Admonished me the unloved year
Would turn on its hinge that night.

I stood in the disenchanted field
Amid the stubble and the stones
Amazed, while a small worm lisped to me
The song of my marrow-bones.

Blue poured into summer blue,
A hawk broke from his cloudless tower,
The roof of the silo blazed, and I knew
That part of my life was forever over.

Already the iron door of the North
Clangs open: birds, leaves, snows
Order their populations forth,
And a cruel wind blows.

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Greeting September with Poetry: Gerard Manly Hopkins

Summer ends now; now, barbarous in beauty, the
Stooks arise
Around; up above, what wind-walks! what
lovely behavior
Of silk-sack clouds! Has wilder, willful-waiver
Meal-drift molded ever and melted across skies?
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Greeting September with Song – Big Star: “September Gurls,” by Big Star

Greeting September with Poetry: Amy Lowell

This afternoon was the colour of water falling through sunlight;
The trees glittered with the tumbling of leaves;
The sidewalks shone like alleys of dropped maple leaves,
And the houses ran along them laughing out of square, open windows.
Under a tree in the park,
Two little boys, lying flat on their faces,
Were carefully gathering red berries
To put in a pasteboard box.
Some day there will be no war,
Then I shall take out this afternoon
And turn it in my fingers,
And remark the sweet taste of it upon my palate,
And note the crisp variety of its flights of leaves.
To-day I can only gather it
And put it into my lunch-box,
For I have time for nothing
But the endeavour to balance myself
Upon a broken world.
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Greeting September with Poetry: Emily Dickinson

September’s Baccalaureate
A combination is Of Crickets — Crows — and Retrospects
And a dissembling Breeze
That hints without assuming —
An Innuendo sear
That makes the Heart put up its Fun
And turn Philosopher.”

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Greeting September with Art – Du Yuxi: “Golden September”
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Greeting September with Poetry: John Updike

The breezes taste
Of apple peel.
The air is full
Of smells to feel-
Ripe fruit, old footballs,
Burning brush,
New books, erasers,
Chalk, and such.
The bee, his hive,
Well-honeyed hum,
And Mother cuts
Chrysanthemums.
Like plates washed clean
With suds, the days
Are polished with
A morning haze.
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Greeting September with Song – Willie Nelson: “September Song”

Greeting September with Poetry: Emily Dickinson

As Summer into Autumn slips
And yet we sooner say
“The Summer” than “the Autumn,” lest
We turn the sun away,

And almost count it an Affront
The presence to concede
Of one however lovely, not
The one that we have loved —

So we evade the charge of Years
On one attempting shy
The Circumvention of the Shaft
Of Life’s Declivity.

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Greeting September with Prose: Truman Capote

The true beloveds of this world are in their lover’s eyes lilacs opening, ship lights, school bells, a landscape, remembered conversations, friends, a child’s Sunday, lost voices, one’s favorite suit, autumn and all seasons, memory, yes, it being the earth and water of existence, memory.
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Greeting September with Poetry: Elizabeth Coatsworth

Today I walked on the lion-coloured hills
with only cypresses for company,
until the sunset caught me, turned the brush
to copper
set the clouds
to one great roof of flame
above the earth,
so that I walk through fire, beneath fire,
and all in beauty.
Being alone
I could not be alone, but felt
(closer than flesh) the presence of those
who once had burned in such transfigurations.
My happiness ran through the centuries
in one continual brightness. Looking down,
I saw the earth beneath me like a rose
petaled with mountains,
fragrant with deep peace.

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Greeting September with Art – Jasper Francis Cropsey: “Greenwood Lake in September”
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Greeting September with Song – Chris Daughtry: “September”

Greeting September with Prose: Alexander Theroux

September: it was the most beautiful of words, he’d always felt, evoking orange-flowers, swallows, and regret.”

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Greeting September with Poetry: Edward Dowden

Spring scarce had greener fields to show than these
Of mid September; through the still warm noon
The rivulets ripple forth a gladder tune
Than ever in the summer; from the trees
Dusk-green, and murmuring inward melodies,
No leaf drops yet; only our evenings swoon
In pallid skies more suddenly, and the moon
Finds motionless white mists out on the leas.
Dear chance it were in some rough wood-god’s lair
A month hence, gazing on the last bright field,
To sink o’er-drowsed, and dream that wild-flowers blew
Around my head and feet silently there,
Till Spring’s glad choir adown the valley pealed,
And violets trembled in the morning dew.
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Greeting September with Song – James Taylor: “September Grass”

Greeting September with Art – John Elwyn: “September”
(c) Gillian Elwyn Davies; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Welcoming September with Poetry: Charlotte Ballard

Tangled branches of
Shadowy hair
Wrinkle crisp lines
In the September air.

Black robins bobbing,
Dig out
From summer coarsen throats
A solitary song.
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Greeting September with Art – Arthur Lismer: “A Late September Gale, Georgian Bay”

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Welcome, Wonderful September

“Happily we bask in this warm September sun,
Which illuminates all creatures…” – Henry David Thoreau

Below – “September Sunshine,” by George Dunlop Leslie
(c) Lady Lever Art Gallery; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

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