29 October: Autumn according to Johnson.

Vain wish ! Me fate compels to bear
  The downward season's iron reign;
Compels to breathe polluted air,
  And shiver on a blasted plain.

What bliss to life can autumn yield,
  If glooms, and show'rs, and storms prevail,
And Ceres flies the naked field,
  And flowers, and fruits, and Phoebus fail?

Oh! what remains, what lingers yet,
  To cheer me in the dark'ning hour!
The grape remains! the friend of wit,
  In love, and mirth, of mighty pow'r.

Haste—press the clusters, fill the bowl;
  Apollo! shoot thy parting ray:
This gives the sunshine of the soul,
  This god of health, and verse, and day.

Still—still the jocund strain shall flow,
  The pulse with vig'rous rapture beat;
My Stella with new charms shall glow,
  And ev'ry bliss in wine shall meet.
  • Ceres: Roman goddess of harvest.
  • Phoebus Appollo: Roman sun god.

(from Volume 1 The Works of Samuel Johnson, Ll.D., in Nine Volumes)

It is about now that the Beaujolais Nouveau wine is released, so ‘haste – press the clusters’ is about right. Johnson was also capable of admitting that too much of a good thing was possible. The pollution in London today is from gas and petrol rather than wood and coal fires, but just as real. Despite the pollution, Jonson was never tired of London.

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Filed under Autumn, Daily Reflections, poetry

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