Autumn Song is a very unusual poem composed by WH Auden, unlike other poets who have treated this season as pleasant or productive, presents a scene of autumn as though it is indifferent to him. Perhaps, he is right on his own hold, autumn is not only a season but also a transition, the transition of time along with the meaning of life that we assign differently in different time. For the poet, autumn symbolises departure of old things and waiting for the new things, the time between these two transitional phases creates a world of hopelessness, nothingness and nightmare of dead and decay. Most probably, the poet talks about a brief gap that has overwhelmed the present. Indirectly, the poet wants to relate the gap with the human generation, the generation, which is undergoing through the dreadful nothingness.
The poet has painted the scene of the season very lucidly, all the stanzas are arranged very sequentially. However, by observing more closely, twofold meanings are woven throughout the poem; one goes apparently that describes or illustrates the autumn and the other goes parallel to human life generation to generation. In the poem, it is the peak time of shedding all the leaves, so that the new leaves will come there. It is an incessant process of the world; each one has a fixed time to stay, comes and goes, momentary glimpse everything is temporary. However, these entire, short spans indicate the arrival or give the space for another. Once all these leaves used to be active, active enough to feed and maintain the proper health of the flora and have made them capable to grow newly. Moreover, it is the fate or misfortune to go into the mouth of time inevitably. It is useless or meaningless to think about anything, which is the ingredients of timeless. Furthermore, poet confirms them that they are not the first to come on this way; many more are in the queue, perhaps hundreds in number awaiting for their part. In stanza third, a direct reference to man’s cremation move which, at the end, we assemble to hold or raise for the last time.
The poet, in stanza third, has painted leafless trees in the painted garden, hanging the photo frame before the eyes. In such pitiable condition, no nightingale will come and chant, nor any spell of the magic bond will work. A very desert like situation, lifeless, hopeless and nothingness has enveloped it. Now the winter came, came the hope, hope for life, heralded to resurge everything to begin a new life. The mountain raised its head, quenched the thirst all those who were waiting for a long time. A revival, revival of all living organism, and revival of a new human generation.
Wystan Hugh Auden (21 Feb. 1907 – 29 Sep. 1973) was born in York, England, studied at English Independent School and Christ Church, Oxford. His father’s name is George Augustus Auden (1872 – 1957), a physician. He began writing poems at thirteen in the old fashion but later influenced by TS Eliot and adopted his style. He published over four hundred poems, including seven long poems. His some of the memorable poems: Funeral Blues, September 1, 1939, The Shield of Achilles and The Age of Anxiety. The present poem talks about the Autumn Season. It is also an illustration of changing course of nature, everything on the earth is subject to changing, nothing is constant.