Aug 23 2008

The Mental Season

Published by at 3:06 pm under Autumn,French Literature

Today the sun goes into the constellation Virgo. I always try to notice energy or weather shifts whenever the sun enters a new astrological sign, and I can frequently feel a subtle transformation in the world around me when astral energies change. Virgo is an earth sign with connotations of order, fastidiousness, and mental analysis, which perfectly describes the energies of late August and early September.

I always consider the arrival of Virgo to be the beginning of the fall season, which is my favorite time of year. I have never been a fan of summer heat and always look forward to the cooler temperatures and mellow light which come in the fall. At this time of year, it seems as though the whole world comes alive with preternatural clarity and vividness, which you can experience with a quite delightful intensity.

Autumn is also a period of serenity and contemplation, the perfect moment to take stock of your existence. Several weeks ago I came across the phrase “saison mentale” in reference to autumn, which struck me as a ideal way to describe my favorite season. After some searching I discovered that the phrase comes from poem Signe in Alcools (1920) by Guillaume Apollinaire:

Signe
Je suis soumis au Chef du Signe de l’Automne
Partant j’aime les fruits je déteste les fleurs
Je regrette chacun des baisers que je donne
Tel un noyer gaulé dit au vent ses douleurs

Mon Automne éternelle ô ma saison mentale
Les mains des amantes d’antan jonchent ton sol
Une épouse me suit c’est mon ombre fatale
Les colombes ce soir prennent leur dernier vol

which can be ineptly translated as:

Sign
I am placed under the leader of the Sign of the Fall
As I leave I love the fruits I hate the flowers
I regret each kiss that I give
Such a stolen walnut spoke his grief to the wind

My eternal Autumn O my mental season
The hands of the lovers of old are strewn over your ground
A spouse follows me it is my fatal shadow
The doves this evening take their last flight

Apollonaire shows us in a few concrete images both the bewitchment of the season and its connotations of thought and eternity. I cannot think of a better way to start my favorite season than taking time to ponder a flawless little poem like this.

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