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In visions of the dark night

   I have dreamed of joy departed –

But a waking dream of life and light

   Hath left me broken-hearted.


Ah! what is not a dream by day

   To him whose eyes are cast

On things around him with a ray

   Turned back upon the past?


That holy dream – that holy dream,

   While all the world were chiding,

Hath cheered me as a lovely beam

   A lonely spirit guiding.


What though that light, thro’ storm and night,

   So trembled from afar –

What could there be more purely bright

   In Truth’s day star?


                        ~ Edgar Allan Poe, died on this day in 1849


John Anster Fitzgerald, 1858

John Anster Fitzgerald, 1858

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Now the bat circles on the breeze of eve,

That creeps, in shudd’ring fits, along the wave,

And trembles ’mid the woods, and through the cave

Whose lonely sighs the wanderer deceive;

For oft, when melancholy charms his mind,

He thinks the Spirit of the rock he hears,

Nor listens, but with sweetly-thrilling fears,

To the low, mystic murmurs of the wind!

Now the bat circles, and the twilight-dew

Falls silent round, and, o’er the mountain-cliff,

The gleaming wave, and far-discover’d skiff,

Spreads the gray veil of soft, harmonious hue.

So falls o’er Grief the dew of pity’s tear

Dimming her lonely visions of despair.


                           ~ Ann Radcliffe, The Mysteries of Udolpho


"Ariel on a Bat's Back" by Henry Singleton (1766-1839)

“Ariel on a Bat’s Back” by Henry Singleton (1766-1839)

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O hushed October morning mild,

Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;

Tomorrow’s wind, if it be wild,

Should waste them all.

The crows above the forest call;

Tomorrow they may form and go.

O hushed October morning mild,

Begin the hours of this day slow,

Make the day seem to us less brief.

Hearts not averse to being beguiled,

Beguile us in the way you know;

Release one leaf at break of day;

At noon release another leaf;

One from our trees, one far away;

Retard the sun with gentle mist;

Enchant the land with amethyst.

Slow, slow!

For the grapes’ sake, if they were all,

Whose leaves already are burnt with frost,

Whose clustered fruit must else be lost –

For the grapes’ sake along the wall.


~ Robert Frost


"Autumn Colours at St. Hubertus Estate Winery" by Hirsch Hubert

“Autumn Colours at St. Hubertus Estate Winery” by Hirsch Hubert

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At the Violet Hour

The time is now propitious, as he guesses,

The meal is ended, she is bored and tired,

Endeavors to engage her in caresses

Which still are unreproved, if undesired.

Flushed and decided, he assaults at once;

Exploring hands encounter no defence;

His vanity requires no response,

And makes a welcome of indifference. 


She turns and looks a moment in the glass,

Hardly aware of her departed lover;

Her brain allows one half-formed thought to pass:

‘Well now that’s done: and I’m glad it’s over.’

When lovely woman stoops to folly and

Paces about her room again, alone,

She smooths her hair with automatic hand,

And puts a record on the gramophone.


~ From The Waste Land by T. S. Eliot, born on this day in 1888


"Hymne à la Femme" by Auguste Levêque, 1909

“Hymne à la Femme” by Auguste Levêque, 1909


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A white, indifferent morning sky,

and a crow, hectoring from its nest

high in the hemlock, a nest as big

as a laundry basket…

                             In my childhood

I stood under a dripping oak,

while autumnal fog eddied around my feet,

waiting for the school bus

with a dread that took my breath away.


The damp dirt road gave off

this same complex organic scent.


I had the new books – words, numbers,

and operations with numbers I did not

comprehend – and crayons, unspoiled

by use, in a blue canvas satchel

with red leather straps.


Spruce, inadequate, and alien

I stood at the side of the road.

It was the only life I had.


~ From “Three Songs at the End of Summer” by Jane Kenyon


"A School Girl" by Myles Birket Foster, 1899

“A School Girl” by Myles Birket Foster, 1899

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Words have a magical power.  They can bring either the greatest happiness or deepest despair; they can transfer knowledge from teacher to student; words enable the orator to sway his audience and dictate its decisions.  Words are capable of arousing the strongest emotions and prompting all men’s actions.


~ Sigmund Freud


Portrait of Samuel Johnson (born on this day in 1709) by Joshua Reynolds, 1775. Johnson's "A Dictionary of the English Language" was published in 1755 and has been described as "one of the greatest single achievements of scholarship."

Portrait of Samuel Johnson (born on this day in 1709) by Joshua Reynolds, 1775. Johnson’s “A Dictionary of the English Language” was published in 1755 and has been described as “one of the greatest single achievements of scholarship.”

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Doubled Mirrors

It is the dark of the moon.

Late at night, the end of summer,

The autumn constellations

Glow in the arid heaven.

The air smells of cattle, hay,

And dust. In the old orchard

The pears are ripe. The trees

Have sprouted from old rootstocks

And the fruit is inedible.

As I pass them I hear something

Rustling and grunting and turn

My light into the branches.

Two raccoons with acrid pear

Juice and saliva drooling

From their mouths stare back at me,

Their eyes deep sponges of light.

They know me and do not run

Away. Coming up the road

Through the black oak shadows, I

See ahead of me, glinting

Everywhere from the dusty

Gravel, tiny points of cold

Blue light, like the sparkle of

Iron snow. I suspect what it is,

And kneel to see. Under each

Pebble and oak leaf is a

Spider, her eyes shining at

Me with my reflected light

Across immeasurable distance.


~ Kenneth Rexroth


This eerie poem reminds me of my short fiction “Windmill Ridge,” which also evokes the transition from summer to fall and a sense of being watched. To read an excerpt, visit the page above.


Dave Hitchborne

Dave Hitchborne

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