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by T.E. Hulme
A touch of cold in the Autumn night—
I walked abroad,
And saw the ruddy moon lean over a hedge
Like a red-faced farmer.
I did not stop to speak, but nodded,
And round about were the wistful stars
With white faces like town children.
Autumn, by T.E. Hulme, is considered by some to be among the first modern poems in the English language. more on Hulme from wiki:
From about 1907 Hulme became interested in philosophy, translating works by Henri Bergson and sitting in on lectures at Cambridge. He translated Georges Sorel‘s Reflections on Violence. The most important influences on his thought were Bergson, who asserted that ‘human experience is relative, but religious and ethical values are absolute’ and, later, Wilhelm Worringer (1881–1965), German art historian and critic – in particular his Abstraktion und Einfühlung (Abstraction and Empathy, 1908). Hulme was influenced by Remy de Gourmont‘s aristocratic concept of art and his studies of sensibility and style. From 1909 Hulme contributed critical articles to The New Age, edited by A. R. Orage.
Hulme developed an interest in poetry and wrote a small number of poems. He was made secretary of the Poets’ Club, attended by such establishment figures as Edmund Gosse and Henry Newbolt. There he encountered Ezra Pound and F. S. Flint. In late 1908 Hulme delivered his paper A Lecture on Modern Poetry to the club. Hulme’s poems “Autumn” and “A City Sunset”, both published in 1909 in a Poets’ Club anthology, have the distinction of being the first Imagist poems. A further five poems were published in The New Age in 1912 as The Complete Poetical Works of T. E. Hulme. Despite this misleading title, Hulme in fact wrote about 25 poems totalling some 260 lines, of which the majority were possibly written between 1908 and 1910. Robert Frost met Hulme in 1913 and was influenced by his ideas. The publisher of the book ‘Ripostes’ (to which Pound appended the ‘complete’ poetical works of T. E. Hulme) spoke in that book of Hulme ‘the meta-physician, who achieves great rhythmical beauty in curious verse-forms.’
In his critical writings Hulme distinguished between Romanticism, a style informed by a belief in the infinite in man and nature, characterised by Hulme as “spilt religion”, and Classicism, a mode of art stressing human finitude, formal restraint, concrete imagery and, in Hulme’s words, “dry hardness”. Similar views were later expressed by T. S. Eliot. Hulme’s ideas had a major effect on Wyndham Lewis (quite literally when they came to blows over Kate Lechmere; Lewis ended the worse for it, hung upside down by the cuffs of his trousers from the railings of Great Ormond Street). He championed the art of Jacob Epstein and David Bomberg, was a friend of Gaudier-Brzeska, and was in on the debut of Lewis’s literary magazineBLAST and vorticism.
Autumn is a seven line poem, with no set meter or rhyme scheme. It concerns, as its subject matter, a Speaker who goes on a nighttime stroll on a chilly autumn night. Line 2’s description of the walk as being “abroad” conveys that the Speaker might be taking a walk into the countryside, away from his life’s day-to-day crowds and people. Though the poem is filled with vivid imagery (“ruddy moon,” “red-faced farmer,”) the mood conveyed is relatable, lowkey, uneventful, and peaceful. By anthropomorphizing the moon and stars, as people, we sense that the walk is done in solitude. The Speaker’s reaction to those sights lets us know that the solitude is not necessarily undesired.