Nuts in Winter

The calendar that isn’t Advent related would appear to be stuck on an Apple theme. Tonight it was Forever Nuts, a well-balanced herbal blend of apple, raisins, and as the name would hint, nuts. It’s a good tea, one we always keep a stock of. Shockingly pink, as we perennially observe when it bobs up jack-in-the-box fashion behind a door, but warm and autumnal tasting. A lovely shock of colour for grey days and rainy days, dreich spells and snow.

Also perennial is Thomas Hardy, it seems. Inevitably we dip into his poetry at least once through the Advent cycle. And every year we comment on the metre, how musical and playful it is. There are things he does rhythmically that no one else risks doing. Here’s an autumnal poem for an autumnal tea. No nuts -we did lo looking for literary ones – but there’s that feeling of looming endings and waning light that comes with Advent.

The Later Autumn

Thomas Hardy

Gone are the lovers, under the bush
Stretched at their ease;
Gone the bees,
Tangling themselves in your hair as they rush
On the line of your track,
Leg-laden, back
With a dip to their hive
In a prepossessed dive.

Toadsmeat is mangy, frosted, and sere;
Apples in grass
Crunch as we pass
And rot ere the men who make cyder appear.
Couch-fires abound
On fallows around,
And shades far extend
Like lives soon to end.

Spinning leaves join the remains shrunk and brown
Of last year’s display
That lie wasting away,
On whose corpses they earlier as scorners gazed down
From their aery green height:
Now in the same plight
They huddle; while yon
A robin looks on.

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