Wednesday, October 12, 2016

"Red and Yellow and Hills," by Eli Siegel

It's autumn, and here in the northeast the days and nights are getting cooler. One of the things I love is seeing fallen leaves on the ground, blowing a little in the breeze now and then. This poem by Eli Siegel comes to my mind at this time of year.

The trains I see and hear are NYC subways as they cross the Williamsburg Bridge, and not those suburban or rural trains likely meant in the poem. And hills are not nearby, though they're welcome sights on a weekend drive. All of these are part of an autumn composition, viewed on a clear day, or a brilliantly glowing evening.

Red and Yellow and Hills
Often, you know, when trains in autumn,
Pass near hills full of dead leaves, gone long from trees,
The trains move the leaves, and winds help the trains.
By hills in autumn, in smoky autumn, smoking trains go,
Fast; and leaves drift listlessly down hills near speedy, dashing trains.
The hills are red and yellow; and the speedy, dashing train is black;
      and white smoke comes from the train; and the train whistles wildly,
      piercingly, and leaves, dead, autumn leaves drift listlessly down old hills.
Cry, train, cry, leaves, cry, hills.
Train, dash wildly.
Leaves, die.
Autumn's here and the hills are.
Autumn's here, and haze and smoke in sky, and sultrily, faintly red sun
     goings-down in autumn.
Smoke's in the sky, quietly, lazily.
Trains and trains go by, whistling wildly, piercingly.
Dead leaves drift along lazily.
Autumn's here and quiet, and red and yellow and hills.