Melancholy

Autumnal Field

The air is changing.  It is the first weekend in September and summer seems to be waving its last flags of welcome, opening the door to autumn.  I went to photograph one of my favourite places this morning at dawn, and the mist wouldn’t lift – there was no longer enough warmth in the ground to encourage it on its way, so I sat in a field of cut grain, looking at the shapes left by the harvester, the stripes of cut stubble standing six inches tall in a field that had recently been knee-high in ripened stalks of grain, and took the photograph above.  It is always an emotional time, autumn.  People notice summer – they categorize it as a good one or a bad one – a hot summer or a cold winter, a mild winter or a wet summer; winter and summer are polarised, it seems, whereas spring and autumn are merely transitions between the two, almost unremarked.  Being transitions, though, they carry a huge emotional load.  Laden as they are with all the transitions we have experienced, they have a particular connection with the psyche.  It is a time that brings more clients to therapy – Summer tends to be a quieter time for new referrals whereas Autumn and early winter can be busy.

It is a time when I am more aware of the transience of things, the changes I have been through, the way the world changes under and around me without any consideration of my needs or wishes.  It is the season that we most often link with melancholy, that half-sister of depression.  It signals so many endings, so many losses, so much aging and fading.

Strangely, though, I love it.  I love the feel of cold air on my face, of a world that isn’t static, that has moods and feelings and life.  I love its mists and its moodiness, its surprising sunshine and its predictable dampness.  Autumn is a prompt for me to reflect on where I am at in my life and what I am doing.  For me, it’s a good thing.

So what of the melancholy feel? Well, I would offer you this:

“Oh, I wish so much that you would remember the time when we were friends.  In those days life was so much more beautiful and the sun more brilliant than today.

The dead leaves gather round the shovel – you see, I haven’t forgotten – the dead leaves gather round the shovel; memories…and regrets as well.  The north wind scatters them into the cold, oblivious night.  You see I haven’t forgotten the song you sang me.  It’s a song that is just like us – you loved me and I loved you.  We lived together, the two of us – you, who loved me and me who loved you.  But life separates those who  love each other – so softly, without making a sound.  And the sea erases from the sand the footprints of the parted lovers.

The words are my own translation of that most autumnal of songs – Autumn Leaves.  Although many people know it as a song in English it is actually a French poem written by Jacques Prévert, set to music as “Les Feuilles Mortes”, with lyrics that are far more poignant than the English version and have the ability to reach deep into your soul and touch every loss you have ever experienced.

If my technology skills are up to it, I will leave you here with my favourite version, sung in French by Yves Montand (I’ve put the lyrics underneath the clip).  You will see that, like me, his lip is trembling by the time he finishes singing it…

Oh je voudrais tant que tu te souviennes
Des jours heureux où nous étions amis
En ce temps là, la vie était plus belle
Et le soleil plus brûlant qu’aujourd’hui
Les feuilles mortes se ramassent à la pelle
Tu vois je n’ai pas oublié
Les feuilles mortes se ramassent à la pelle
Les souvenirs et les regrets aussi
Et le vent du nord les emportet
Dans la nuit froide de l’oubli
Tu vois, je n’ai pas oublié
La chanson que tu me chantais

C’est une chanson, qui nous ressemble
Toi tu m’aimais, et je t’aimais
Et nous vivions tout les deux ensemble
Toi qui m’aimais, moi qui t’aimais
Mais la vie sépare ceux qui s’aiment
Tout doucement sans faire de bruit
Et la mer efface sur le sable
Le pas des amants désunis

C’est une chanson, qui nous ressemble
Toi tu m’aimais et je t’aimais
Et nous vivions, tous deux ensemble
Toi qui m’aimait, moi qui t’aimais
Mais la vie sépare ceux qui s’aime
Tout doucement sans faire de bruit
Et la mer efface sur le sable
Le pas des amants désunis.

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About allodoxaphobic

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One Response to Melancholy

  1. sue SUE says:

    Ah beautifully written and felt. I will try to embrace Autumn.

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