William Plomer

Autumn Near Tokyo (1929)

A pear, a peach, a promenade,
September and a falling leaf,
A path between tall millet rows
A stooping woman reaps.
The speckle-headed bunchéd heads
On stalks with purple-rusty leaves
Falling before the blade reveal
A field of rice with stems
Weighted by dropping seeds to curve,
To fade, and feel the flail:
Dry red unveils the green.

Persimmons fatten overhead,
Leaf-rich wood smoke aspires
To fade into the candid sky.
Still hardly cool the evening comes.
A dusky freshness and a staleness sweet,
The musky cheapness of a cigarette
Lingers along the fading way. The young
Are thinking of next year,
The old of winter
And of all the days that can return
No more, return no more.




In this 1929 version of ‘Autumn Near Tokyo’ (BJ4h), which appeared in The Family Tree (BJ4), Plomer’s sympathies are with the old and their thoughts of ‘all the days that can return no more’. He was twenty-seven. Thirty-one years later the poem appeared revised in Collected Poems, and the sympathies of its author, age fifty-eight, had shifted to the young and their hopes for the future (see BJ16c).

For an overview of Plomer’s relation to Japan see William Plomer and Japan in the Bibliography, and for a note about Plomer titles in print see Earthquake.




















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