Commentary on Field of Autumn
Advancing like a silent threat, the onset of winter is presented throughout the poem as a season with sinister intent. The “acid breath of noon” approaches in a “Slow” manner, as if sneaking up on autumn. The personification of the “acid breath” not only suggests to the reader the fog is murderous, but one could be lead to imagine that the fog is poison gas. This is because “Field of Autumn” was published in 1947, two years after the Second World War; clearly the memory of the War would be even more poignant than it is to this day, scars more fresh, and any references more painful. Continuing with the theme of war, Laurie Lee chooses to describe the “taking” of the village “without sound;”, implying an stealthy invasion. As “taking” is in an emphatic position at the beginning of a line, it stresses how it is doing so without permission. Uninvited, winter has no right to ambush such a colourful beauty that autumn is defined to be.
A vibrant time of year, autumn is presented as a season that offers many colours to adorn the landscape. The “copper-coated hill” and “violet ground” is a romanticism of the dyes of the season, a literary style often associated with Keats. The intrusion of the strangling winter appears to trap and take the life autumn has to offer. The “vulture headed sun lies low”, as if in wait to take its prey. The negative connotations the word “vulture” entails are mainly in connection with death, as a vulture feeds on carrion. Using this metaphor for the sun, Lee darkens the mood of the poem, just as she darkens the immagery within the poem. The “blackened tongue” of a sheep somehow seems to sour the colours of the poem, almost using the “tongue” to taste the foul colour.
Transitioning between the two seasons, “Field of Autumn” seems to capture the tuning point at which winter truly takes over. From feeling of a place that is universally unaware of this overthrow, with a slow smothering of the “copper-coated...
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