The last day of October, Botany Pond, the University of Chicago:

Metamorphosis, by Wallace Stevens

Yillow, yillow, yillow,
Old worm, my pretty quirk,
How the wind spells out
Sep – tem – ber. . . .

Summer is in bones.
Cock-robin’s at Caracas.
Make o, make o, make o,
Oto – otu – bre.

And the rude leaves fall.
The rain falls. The sky
Falls and lies with the worms.
The street lamps

Are those that have been hanged,
Dangling in an illogical
To and to and fro
Fro Niz – nil – imbo.


  1. Posted November 1, 2010 at 5:35 am | Permalink

    Lovely scene. Stuck in grey, dreary England, I am jealous.

    • Dominic
      Posted November 1, 2010 at 6:41 am | Permalink

      If you are a Leyton fan you must like grey – in footballing performance terms! 😉 (Sorry – cheap shot – especially as you beat my team Norwich last season!)

      • Posted November 1, 2010 at 11:28 am | Permalink

        At least you don’t have to worry about the Mighty Orient this season. Ssturday’s performance was noticeably bright, mostly due to turning on the floodlights.

        And you have Stephen Fry as a celeb supporter! While we have to make do with Andrew Lloyd Webber! Again, intensely jealous.

    • daveau
      Posted November 1, 2010 at 7:59 am | Permalink

      Nice now, but it will suck in a couple of months. It’ll still be pretty, though. I’d like to see a pic of the same scene after the first snow.

  2. Posted November 1, 2010 at 5:50 am | Permalink

    The greatest lawyer/investment banker/poet ever. EVER!

    You are free to disparage this one and substitute your own, but please NO T.S. Eliot.

    • whyevolutionistrue
      Posted November 1, 2010 at 6:43 am | Permalink

      Sweeney shifts from ham to ham
      Stirring the water in his bath.
      The masters of the subtle schools
      Are controversial, polymath.

      • Posted November 1, 2010 at 7:07 am | Permalink

        Arrgh!! I’m collapsing under the derivative-gee-ain’t-I-bookish prose of Mr. Eliot.

        Eliot’s laborious ponderings over the weightiest esoteric topics bespeak the gravity he so laboriously manifests.

        • Dominic
          Posted November 1, 2010 at 7:32 am | Permalink

          He is also an anagram of toilets – does that count with the extra ‘t’? Probably not…

        • whyevolutionistrue
          Posted November 1, 2010 at 11:32 am | Permalink

          I don’t care what you say, “Prufrock” is a fantastic poem.
          And what’s so bookish about buttocks?

          • Posted November 1, 2010 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

            I’m just messin’ wichya. I am big fan of Stevens however…

            But given the time I spend in front of a computer I’m sad to say that my buttocks are quite bookish as of late.

  3. Don
    Posted November 1, 2010 at 6:13 am | Permalink


    by Thomas Hood (1799-1845)

    No sun–no moon!
    No morn–no noon!
    No dawn–no dusk–no proper time of day–
    No sky–no earthly view–
    No distance looking blue–
    No road–no street–no “t’other side the way”–
    No end to any row–
    No indications where the Crescents go–
    No top to any steeple–
    No recognitions of familiar people–
    No courtesies for showing ’em–
    No knowing ’em!
    No traveling at all–no locomotion–
    No inkling of the way–no notion–
    “No go” by land or ocean–
    No mail–no post–
    No news from any foreign coast–
    No park, no ring, no afternoon gentility–
    No company–no nobility–
    No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease,
    No comfortable feel in any member–
    No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,
    No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds–

  4. Dominic
    Posted November 1, 2010 at 6:37 am | Permalink

    Very pretty & showing that within that biologist’s breast beats the heart of a poet!

    “In Britain it had been a year without summer. Wet spring had merged imperceptibly into bleak autumn. For months the sky had remained a depthless gray. Sometimes it rained, but mostly it was just dull, a land without shadows. It was like living inside Tupperware. And here suddenly the sun was dazzling in its intensity. Iowa was hysterical with color and light. Roadside barns were a glossy red, the sky a deep, hypnotic blue; fields of mustard and green stretched out before me. Flecks of mica glittered in the rolling road. And here and there in the distance mighty grain elevators, the cathedrals of the Middle West, the ships of the prairie seas, drew the sun’s light and bounced it back as pure white.”
    Bill Bryson – The Lost Continent.

    A Swedish guy I know moaned about London’s lowering grey winter skies contrasting them with sunny Stockholm. Actually I like grey, but then I grew up in East Anglia & the North Sea is a bootiful unremitting grey – the First World War Admiral Beatty moaned about it – “Grey ships, grey sea, grey sky!”

  5. daveau
    Posted November 1, 2010 at 7:29 am | Permalink

    Autumn is my favorite time of year. Very nice picture.

  6. Posted November 1, 2010 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    This is a great photograph, because it makes the Botany Pond look like a scene from Paradise. (The Botany Pond isn’t bad, but it ain’t Paradise.)

    • whyevolutionistrue
      Posted November 1, 2010 at 10:09 am | Permalink

      Botany Pond is actually much nicer than it used to be before the renovation. I was dubious but now I’m a convert.

      • daveau
        Posted November 1, 2010 at 11:43 am | Permalink

        I was dubious but now I’m a convert.

        Oh, man, that is just begging for all kinds of quote-mining trouble.

  7. Posted November 1, 2010 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    Hey you goddam atheist scientists are supposed to be robotically indifferent to stuff like fall colors and poetry. Go back and read the instructions.

  8. J.J.E.
    Posted November 1, 2010 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

    I really miss Chicago. And coffee break by the pond. <sigh>

  9. Tveb
    Posted November 1, 2010 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

    Two by Robert Frost:


    O hushed October morning mild,
    Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;
    Tomorrow’s wind, if it be wild,
    Should waste them all.
    The crows above the forest call;
    Tomorrow they may form and go.
    O hushed October morning mild,
    Begin the hours of this day slow.
    Make the day seem to us less brief.
    Hearts not averse to being beguiled,
    Beguile us in the way you know.
    Release one leaf at break of day;
    At noon release another leaf;
    One from our trees, one far away.
    Retard the sun with gentle mist;
    Enchant the land with amethyst.
    Slow, slow!
    For the grapes’ sake, if they were all,
    Whose leaves already are burnt with frost,
    Whose clustered fruit must else be lost–
    For the grapes’ sake along the wall.

    My November Guest

    MY Sorrow, when she’s here with me,
    Thinks these dark days of autumn rain
    Are beautiful as days can be;
    She loves the bare, the withered tree;
    She walks the sodden pasture lane.
    Her pleasure will not let me stay.
    She talks and I am fain to list:
    She’s glad the birds are gone away,
    She’s glad her simple worsted gray
    Is silver now with clinging mist.
    The desolate, deserted trees,
    The faded earth, the heavy sky,
    The beauties she so truly sees,
    She thinks I have no eye for these,
    And vexes me for reason why.
    Not yesterday I learned to know
    The love of bare November days
    Before the coming of the snow,
    But it were vain to tell her so,
    And they are better for her praise.

  10. jay
    Posted November 2, 2010 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

    I kind of like the Tom Waits ‘November’ (actually it’s much better look up the actual song with the melancholy music behind it)

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