Autumn in the Park (symbolist love poem)

The old man fades out
On a park bench
This fine autumn day
In the near-spring of winter
Tired but joyful in the sadness of memory
A song plays gentle in his ears
He floats away
Surrendered to a peaceful glow
The warm sun, brown leaves of beauty
Leaving the body, the mind
Looking down from air
High above naked trees
Without regret or trepidation
Hearing, seeing, knowing only the rapture
That had always lain dormant
Now come alive
In death
In the ethereal afternoon

Young ruffians come to stare
At eyes no longer there
Seeing as much
In faded patches
Of old gray hair
Hand of crook in every pocket
Taking what a sleeping man does not need
Leaving the dream to a soft breeze
The little robbers go away

Then comes the girl
The young woman
Who loved him
Finds but an empty man
A decrepit shell
Pockets turned about
Seeing the vagueness of a slight smile
The final mask
Knowing suddenly
This was his hour

Kneels before him, breaks down
Sheds one long tear
Bows her head
Like silence wimpering
Touches the hand still warm
Holding it for the last
Devastation crushes her
Like the weight of mighty seas
Agony flows like river
Washing over broken smile
The pretty hand of youth
Touches the mind of beauty gone
Where eyes have closed
A skull, a memory
A body old, a corpse too fresh to move
Grief now
A raging torrent of tears
A watery smile
A crumpled red face is she
He... is gone

Tears begin to dry
Only to spring more
Like torture and joy
She loved him
Eyes now floating in a sea of sadness
Crush the sweet nectar
Bounty of mercy
Spilling on the feet of he
This timeless moment
This treasure
He now lives
In she
Finally she
Lets go
This agony
The hand of this
Exquisite corpse
This piece of wisdom
This child grown old and died
On his favorite park bench
For her to cherish and remember

The fallen, the unfallen
Fire red leaves, the crystal blue sky
Black lines of branches
Weathered life
Eyes of beauty
Glorious autumn day
In the late of winter
Sure is she
He saw her coming
At the last

(Final major edits to poem completed 2004 March 02 Tues.)

This poem came to me 2004 February 26 Thursday while sitting on an isolated park bench on a glorious warm beautiful breezy autumn kind of day in Cheesman Park in Denver. It was actually late winter but the brown leaves everywhere made it seem like autumn. I had spent perhaps one hour in the park in sprititual contemplation that afternoon, as I often do. When I had sat on the bench looking west, I took to reading my book Surrealist Love Poems (edited by Mary Ann Caws). I had read only the long and compelling forward titled "The Poetics of Surrealist Love", underlining great discoveries that inspired me. Then I was reading through a few works such as Andre Breton and Louis Aragon. I had also been listening to the song Both Sides the Tweed sung by Mary Black (Celtic Tides album) on my MP3 player wearing large headphones. I had heard the song many times before and many times that afternoon as part of a programmed trilogy including An Innis Aigh (The Ranklin Family) and E Horo (Mary Jane Lamond). Just as Both Sides the Tweed had ended again, I attempted to change the selection to J' Attendrai (a French song) but it would not play. Suddenly the battery of my MP3 player had died. I think it was the death of the battery that focused my inspiration.

I put down the book feeling richly alive in the beauty of life and deeply inspired by the sweetness of Mary Black's voice and the message of Mary Ann Caw's writing. I had been moved by all things that afternoon such that I could only be alone. This moment gave me inspiration to make to make the topics of love and sincerity the center of all these other varieties of writing that I have dabbled in for decades. Not that love is new in my work. But now I know that sincere romanticism (in the 18th Century context of the word) has a central place in my life.

I proceeded to write Autumn in the Park not only out of the inspiration mentioned. I felt confident that I could write a good symbolist or surrealist love poem and wanted to put myself to the challenge. Roughly nine hours later, just after midnight I typed and edited my handwritten poem to completion. But then I subjected the poem to hours of further edits on March 2.

Coincidentally the poem also became intended as an extension of a story I have been crafting for years, one of many. This particular story has a working title of "Sunny Brook", the name of a nursing home where a very old man is confined and continually "escapes". He becomes the object of romantic attraction in the heart of a very young woman who finds in him both a father figure and a lover. The physical aspect of this love, if any, is both ridiculous and innocently comic and hardly carnal on the part of either party. Nonetheless the relationship slowly becomes profoundly intimate. The old character is essentially a rebel who defies the stifling regimen of the nursing home, performs comic pranks and runs off to explore all the unfinished glories of his own youth, essentially reliving them. The odd pair meet and click instantly, to the frequent and cruel ridicule of their separate peers, calling into question the whole meaning of any deeply personal love as well as the sanctity of anyone's inner beauty.

As a foot niote, I must confess that I confused the definitions of symbolist writing and surrealist writing until as late as 2012. therefore, I may need to edit other parts of this web site where I write about "surrealism". But in general, my writing seems to be more symbolist than surrealist. In surrealism, I was thinking only of dreams and fantastic worlds, not the required juxtaposition of incongruous images or themes. To be certain, my work israrey far from dream worlds because dreams are the center of philosophy, imagination, change and great illuminations.

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© Vincent B. Rain