The passing of summer both gladdens and saddens my heart. I yearn to welcome autumn, to embrace its sensuous enfolding of decay, its glorious descent into ochres, reds and ambers. I long to relax into the essential me; the me of wool and tweed, of scarves and boots; the me that celebrates the seasonal shift of the air and the robin’s song, with the annual custom of the turning page.
Two books, one title; Shelley waits patiently for his autumnal release. And so, as each year before, I take them down from the cabinet, and read once more The Sensitive Plant. Though the words are the same, each book elicits a unique response.
Laurence Houseman’s illustrations leave me uneasy; his Pan a troubling pagan presence amidst the inevitable decay. His garden is unnerving, but strangely exhilarating; I want to walk that path but secretly know my hand would tremble on the gate’s latch.
Charles Robinson’s watercolour palette is benign, though steeped in pathos. His garden is one of melancholy and deep longing. The scent of decay is tangible. Here sorrow borders every path. I tread these walks untroubled; the damp leaves clinging to my boots.
Then the rain came down, and the broken stalks
Were bent and tangled across the walks;
And the leafless network of parasite bowers
Massed into ruin; and all sweet flowers.
(First published 19 September 2014 at http://stevenhobbsauthor.com/blog/ )
© Steven Hobbs 2014