Great Britain and United States of America are different in many ways including the seasonal differences, like a different autumn. Here different autumn means that autumn spreads the gloomy message across the whole Great Britain, while in United States it’s still the season of collecting smiles if garden little wisely. This big difference, on seasonal or gardening grounds, is also quite visible in the literature of both nations. If we critically get through the poetry of these nations, we come to know that the specs of their poets towards autumn are totally different. Like British nature poets, on comfortable and lyrical ground with spring and summer, turn dour and unenthusiastic when autumn is the topic. Keats, in his ode “To Autumn” writes that

Then in wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies.....


Thomas Hood’s “ode: Autumn” mentions

I saw old autumn in the misty morn
Stand shadowless like Slience, listening

To silence, for no lonely bird would sing

Into his hollow ear from woods forlorn.....


On another place, this British romantic poet adds completely no to autumn in his poem “No”, as follows:

No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease,
No comfortable feel in any member----

No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,

No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds----



Tennyson was equally lugubrious in his poem “Song”:

The air is damp and hushed and close,
As a sick man’s room when he taketh repose

An hour before death----

My very heart faints and the whole soul grieves
At the moist rich smell of the rotting leaves,

And the breath
Of the fading edges of box beneath,

And the year’s last rose.


Alexander Pope’s Third Pastoral, “Autumn,” mentions similarly gloomy thoughts:

Ye flowers that droop, forsaken by the spring,
Ye birds that, left by summer, cease to sing,

Ye trees that fade when autumn heats remove,
Say, is not absence death to those who love.


To the contrary, if British poetry about autumn is dismal and cheerless, American poetry is strikingly sunny and bright. Thoreau was enamored of the pleasure that fall brings:

The moon now rises to her absolute rule,
And the husbandman and the hunter

Acknowledge her for their mistress.
Asters and goldenrod reign in the fields

And the life everlasting withers not.

The fields are reaped and shorn of their pride

But an inward verdure still crowns them;

The thistle scatters its down on the pool

And yellow leaves clothe the river----

And nought disturbs the serious life of men.


And Emily Dickinson, writing about the native fringed gentian, a late bloomer often the victim of a sudden frost, shows no melancholy whatsoever, but only delight in its beauty-----

But just before the snows
There came a purple creature

That ravished all the hill:

And summer hid her forehead,
And mockery was still.

The frosts were her conditions:

The Tyrian would not come

Until the North evoked it,

“Creator! shall I bloom!”

Occasionally popular nineteenth-century American poets could wax melancholy about autumn, mourning it as a season of decay and loss. Both Celia Thanxter and William Cullen Bryant expressed this mood, but they seem to be following conventional English poetic themes, not quite putting their hearts into their elegiac words. In “Third of November” Bryant was far from bleak of spirit:

Glorious are the woods in their latest gold and crimson
Such a kindly autumn, so mercifully dealing
With the growths of summer, I never yet have seen.


In “Evangeline,” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow hailed autumn as “that beautiful season, the summer of All-Saints.” Another popular American poet of the last century, Helen Hunt, wrote in “Asters and Golden Rod”:

The lands are lit
With all the autumn blaze of Golden Rod

And everywhere the purple asters nod
And bend and wave and flint.


The differences between the poetry, autumn has inspired in Great Britain and in America are not the product of differences in national character. They are founded; I believe, on scientific reality----a matter of latitude and the earth’s tilt.

Summing up the story, differences in the thoughts and attitudes of two great nations towards autumn are very clear through this poetic comparison. That means English autumn is totally different than American autumn, so gardening practices in autumn must be different in these regions. Here England represented the temperate regions while Unite States represented tropical regions of the world.

Source : The Garden in Autumn by Allen Lacy; pp:19-22.


8 Response to 'English vs. American Autumn, a Poetic comparison'

  1. Alice'> October 15, 2009 at 1:23 AM

    Thank you, Hortist, for this lovely post. The poems and accompanying photos are quite inspirational.

    Thank you, too, for your comments on my blog.


  2. Hortist'> October 15, 2009 at 1:45 AM

    Thank you Alice :)


  3. lynn'sgarden'> October 15, 2009 at 1:56 AM

    I can really appreciate this lovely post ;) Thanks, Saif, for visiting my blog...glad to meet you! I'm looking forward to learning about your landscape career (lucky!) and gardening styles in Pakistan ;)


  4. Wendy'> October 15, 2009 at 7:35 PM

    I really enjoyed reading this post and the poems. It sure illustrates two different realities! Autumn is strange - a day like we had today - rainy, gloomy, cold, depressing, is definitely different from the one we had just a few days ago - cool, snappy, crisp, colorful, bright. Really enjoying your blog!


  5. Hortist'> October 15, 2009 at 10:30 PM

    Thank you Lynn for visiting my blog and commenting so nicely. Well, to tell you about my Landscape career and gardening styles in Pakistan, I'll come to your blog sometimes later, perhaps this afternoon. Also very Glad to meet you :)


  6. Hortist'> October 15, 2009 at 10:33 PM

    Wendy, thank you for enjoying my blog and your nice comments :)


  7. Catherine@AGardenerinProgress'> October 16, 2009 at 7:35 AM

    This really was an interesting post. I guess I didn't realize how differnetly autumn was viewed. The poetry really says a lot, and I enjoyed the pictures too.


  8. James Missier'> October 21, 2009 at 7:29 PM

    Never thought that Autumn had a gloomy effect. Often thought that winter seemed to be more gloomer than the fall.
    Regardless, I never experienced these season as Im in tropics. Wished to experience these seasons one day.


Post a Comment