Monday, June 09, 2014

The Folded Leaf

Today, I wanted to read a novel--not just any novel, but one I was sure would please me and make it a day well-spent. It didn't take me long to choose The Folded Leaf by William Maxwell, Random House, 1945. Since I came to Maxwell many years after his novels were published, there are several I haven't read yet. I save them for times like today.

The man is a master of the written word.

The poem below is a selection from Song of the Lotus Eaters by Tennyson, which Maxwell has placed as an epigraph to the novel, and from which he chose the title. I have also included the following four lines from the poem, which he did not use.

Then I chose the picture from a boat ride on Crooked River in Northern Michigan, since that is where I know the most profusion of leaves. And where apple trees grow wild in the woods and bear fruit!

Lo! in the middle of the wood, 
The folded leaf is woo'd from out the bud 
With winds upon the branch, and there 
Grows green and broad, and takes no care, 
Sun-steep'd at noon, and in the moon 
Nightly dew-fed; and turning yellow
Falls, and floats adown the air. 
Lo! sweeten'd with the summer light, 
The full-juiced apple, waxing over-mellow, 
Drops in a silent autumn night. 
All its allotted length of days,
The flower ripens in its place, 
Ripens and fades, and falls, and hath no toil, 
Fast-rooted in the fruitful soil. 

Alfred, Lord Tennyson, 1833

What I would like you to notice about this is the seamless rhythmic beauty of the English language in poetic forms that characterized so much of the great Romantic and Victorian poetry. Musicality!

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