Week 515: Autumn, by Vernon Scannell

Maybe I am not the only one rather looking forward to the cool misty days of autumn after a summer far too hot for my taste. And this piece by Vernon Scannell (1922-200) captures the more urban aspects of that season as well as any I know. I like, of course, the fact that poetry quite properly addresses the great themes of our existence: love, loss, death, our place in the cosmos, but I like it too when poems such as this one find time to stitch humbler things into this word-woven fabric of ours: the smell of burnt porridge on the wind, the halo of mist round street-lamps, the mash of fallen leaves in a gutter.

Velutinous: velvety.


It is the football season once more
And the back pages of the Sunday papers
Again show the blurred anguish of goalkeepers.

In Maida Vale, Golders Green and Hampstead
Lamps ripen early in the surprising dusk;
They are furred like stale rinds with a fuzz of mist.

The pavements of Kensington are greasy,
The wind smells of burnt porridge in Bayswater
And the leaves are mashed to silence in the gutter.

The big hotel like an anchored liner
Rides near the park; lit windows hammer the sky.
Like the slow swish of surf the tyres of taxis sigh.

It is a time of year that’s to my taste,
Full of spiced rumours, sharp and velutinous flavours,
Dim with mist that softens the cruel surfaces,
Makes mirrors vague. It is the mist I most favour. 

Vernon Scannell


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