“Fall, Leaves, Fall”by Emily Jane Bronte
Fall, leaves, fall; die, flowers, away;
Lengthen night and shorten day;
Every leaf speaks bliss to me
Fluttering from the autumn tree.
I shall smile when wreaths of snow
Blossom where the rose should grow;
I shall sing when night’s decay
Ushers in a drearier day.
With a little revision this poem can be perfect for baby. For example, where Bronte tends to be overly morbid (“die, flowers”) you may want to revise to more baby friendly language (“bye bye flowers”). You may even want to stick with just the first four lines of the poem.
My son loves the word “day” for some reason. Well, actually, I do know the reason. On one of his baby sign language DVDs, he’s obsessed with this song, “A New Day.” To sign “day,” use one hand to grab your opposite elbow and point your index finger of your other hand up to the sky. While your saying the word, move your pointed finger across to your other elbow, to simulate the sun setting over the sky.
My first thoughts – does she just like being miserable? After a few readings, however, I thought that maybe Bronte has a point. Even those of us who despise the end of summer have to admit that there is something very beautiful about the fall. Yes, it does ultimately lead us to a point when everything seems to “die” as Bronte so bluntly puts it. But, is there beauty in death? Our culture doesn’t seem to like confronting it (although, sometimes the cover of the NYTimes makes me think differently). Is it safe to say that we are a “youth” culture? It almost seems like every cosmetic product is designed to diminish the signs of aging. Why don’t we consider wrinkles beautiful?! My good friend once said she hopes to one day have deep smile wrinkles as marks of a life spent laughing. Anyway, back to Bronte… I thought it was interesting to note that this famous author of Wuthering Heights died after refusing to take medicine when she was sick with the flu. I would love to know when this poem was written. Could it be symbolic of her own personal experience with death?