In this novel the two main characters are lecturers in English literature, which is a good excuse for them to make literary allusions and quote poetry and discuss writing (yay from me!). In the scene in which this poem is quoted, the two couples have just set off on a week-long walk through the country-side, and the first signs of fracture in relationship are beginning to appear. It made me start to hanker for a walk in the countryside myself. I used to spend a lot of time in the great outdoors, but I don't anymore. The reality is that I don’t feel all that safe walking in the bushland around Sydney on my own, and while my bush sense and sense of direction is pretty good (at least I think so, but perhaps many a lost bushwalker has thought so too) it is still not such a fabulous idea to go into the bush by yourself.
But I digress. This poem reminded me of nights walking through woodlands in Northern Queensland clearing traps and murmuring to myself “the woods are lovely dark and deep, but I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep …”, and since Autumn weather has hung on a long time here (I think we are having an unusually long warm spell this year), I give you this poem (in the novel Sid quotes the first two lines of the first stanza, and the last two lines of the second stanza):
Picture from here.
A Vagabond Song
THERE is something in the autumn that is native to my blood—
Touch of manner, hint of mood;
And my heart is like a rhyme,
With the yellow and the purple and the crimson keeping time.
The scarlet of the maples can shake me like a cry
Of bugles going by.
And my lonely spirit thrills
To see the frosty asters like a smoke upon the hills.
There is something in October sets the gypsy blood astir;
We must rise and follow her,
When from every hill of flame
She calls and calls each vagabond by name.