Autumn is a story with a beginning, middle and end far clearer than the meandering narrative of summer. On a day like today (in London, at any rate) we have pale clear sunshine and the crispness on the air. This is harvest festival time with all its mellow fruitfulness. Later, after the leaves fall, we’ll have bright and biting days, and then the smokiness of Halloween and the gathering evenings as the year curls up.
I liked Rowan Pellings’s recollection of her mother’s riposte to Keats, pinned to the school noticeboard:
Mum [believed] that Keats's take was too darn hazy, over-ripe and somnolent, with its "soft-dying day" and mournful gnats. In richly purple doggerel she defended the crisp, taut energy of autumn: the first frost, the harsh, pure light, the crunch of leaves and the crackling of fires. How could Keats have failed to note the sorcery of the harvest moon, or the sheen of a conker fresh from its shell?The last of the four Mirabilis books is Autumn. (Or Fall – we still can’t decide between those two titles, as the American version has other connotations, of course, which become significant as Jack faces his ultimate challenge.) It’s going to be the best opportunity for Leo and Nikos and Mike to really show their mastery as we see, not only the close of the year, but the seeping away of fantasy as the green comet fades:
“Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,Ah, but that’s all a long way off. We have five hundred more pages to do before we get to write “the end” and mean it. Hope you’ll be along for the whole journey.
The flying cloud, the frosty light:
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.”