millais autumn

Millais: Autumn Leaves.

One of my childish obsessions was the pre-raphaelite movement (Victorians on drugs, poetry, painting, incestuous affairs, sex scandals…), and Millais was that group’s best painter. This melancholy painting was lauded at the time by noted critic John Ruskin: generous of him considering Millais had run off with Ruskin’s wife a month earlier! Ruskin was right about this, however.

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The Death Of Autumn

When reeds are dead and a straw to thatch the marshes,
And feathered pampas-grass rides into the wind
Like aged warriors westward, tragic, thinned
Of half their tribe, and over the flattened rushes,
Stripped of its secret, open, stark and bleak,
Blackens afar the half-forgotten creek,—
Then leans on me the weight of the year, and crushes
My heart. I know that Beauty must ail and die,
And will be born again,—but ah, to see
Beauty stiffened, staring up at the sky!
Oh, Autumn! Autumn!—What is the Spring to me?

Beautiful words by Edna St. Vincent Millay