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The Autumn and the Fall of Leaves

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The Autumn and the Fall of Leaves

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  • October 1999
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The Autumn and the Fall of Leaves

It is not true that the close of a life which ends in a natural fashion- --life which is permitted to put on the display of death and to go out in glory- --inclines the mind to rest. It is not true of a day ending nor the passing of the year, nor of the fall of leaves. Whatever permanent, uneasy question is native to men, comes forward most insistent and most loud at such times. There are still places where one can feel and describe the spirit of the falling of leaves.

At Fall, the sky which is of so delicate and faint a blue as to contain something of gentle mockery, and certain more of tenderness, presides at the fall of leaves. There is no air, no breath at all. The leaves are so light that they sidle on their going downward, hesitating in that which is not void to them, and touching at last so intangible to the earth with which they are to merge, that the gesture is much gentler than a greeting, and even more discreet than a discreet touch. They make a little sound, less than the least of sounds. No bird at night in the marshes rustles so slightly, no men, though men are the most refined of living beings, put so passing a stress upon their sacred whispers or their prayers. The leaves are hardly heard, but they are heard just so much that men also, who are destined at the end to grow glorious and to die, look up and hear them falling.

There is an infinite amount of qualities of describing the leaves. The color is not a mere glory: it is intricate. If you take up one leaf, then you can see the sharp edge boundaries which are stained with a deep yellow-gold and are not defined. Nor do shape and definition ever begin to exhaust the list. For there are softness and hardness too. Beside boundaries you have hues and tints, shades also, varying thicknesses of stuff, and endless choice of surface, and that list also is infinite, and the divisions of each item in it are everywhere the depth and the meaning of so...