Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind

The silk shirt is second hand, as is the skirt - which I shortened myself. The gold top used to live in the dressing up box, the hat is from a charity shop, the heels are Office and the copy of Keats' poems was stolen from my dad. All jewellery is vintage. 

So, once again, the wheel has turned and September is here. Given the distinct lack of summer this year, the possibility of a proper season – one of golden light, crisp air and dry leaves – would be welcome. Now is the time to brandish Keats’ ‘Ode to Autumn’ and revel in the oncoming mists and mellow fruitfulness.
That particular description stands alone. It is the one most easily quoted – tripping off the tongue without thought. Perhaps this is thanks to Keats’ ability to distil a season into several words, or merely through appearing at the beginning of the poem. All three stanzas are equally rich – by turn describing, personifying and finally mourning the passing of autumn.
It’s incredible that we can read Keats today and find resonance and meaning relating to our own lives and times. The questions that he asks, and the areas that he explores, are still relevant today – from questioning whether it’s better to be frozen in a fixed moment or embrace the transience of existence, to suggesting that sorrow is only felt by those who intimately know beauty and joy.
His poetry treads the slightly paradoxical line of being both completely timeless, and very much of its time. The descriptions of faeries and dreams may seem contrived at first glance now, but only because such words have been rendered useless by repetition. Every cliché was once a fresh idea. When Keats wrote that “Beauty is truth, truth beauty”, it was new and extraordinary. The phrase has become hollow by reiteration, the words so subjective in modern society that it can be hard to grasp their precise message. The sublime quality of beauty that Keats aspired to has been replaced with commerce. ‘Beauty’ is now nipped, tucked, cut and airbrushed. It is also perceived as something often purely physical, rather than aesthetic – more Ode to the night-intensive-moisturising-gel than Ode on a Nightingale.
Nonetheless, those poems are timeless – still giving pleasure to readers some near two hundred years after his death. Their power lies in the ability to stir, to provoke thought, to make us question. Keats invites us to accept mystery, to celebrate beauty and simply to be awake.
For me, Keats speaks to the heart as much as he speaks to the head. Sometimes it’s easier to feel a poem than to fully understand it. I won’t lie – poetry can hard. It’s not always instant or immediate. It can take two or three reads to make sense of the meaning, and several more to even begin to address the various layers. But the pleasure of poetry is that it's possible to access it at different levels. Sometimes analysis opens new doors and ways of thinking. At other times, one can read Ode to Autumn merely to enjoy the sensations and images: “While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,/ And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue”.
What doesn’t change is the way that Keats appears to capture snatches and moments of Beauty in his verse – Beauty with a big capital B, the kind of Beauty that is eternal. 

I'm currently unable to wear heels like the ones pictured above, as I have a horrible infection in one ankle - meaning a general lack of mobility, a foot resembling a balloon with toes, and daily visits to hospital for doses of antibiotics by IV. It was rather laborious to type this up, as I have a cannula/ needle permanently taped into my left hand (managed to faint when they put it in). Am hoping that soon I'll be sufficiently recovered and able to run amongst hay bales once more. For now, I'm stranded on the sofa with Keats, Angela Carter and college work for company. 


Rachel, Cold Knees said...

Ouch that does sound painful, hope the antibiotics do their trick very quickly! I must confess I never really liked poetry (too many forced reading sessions at school probably) but I've come to appreciate it with time, especially Keats.
(Also I love how so many items you wear are from your dressing up box, I wish I'd kept all the odds and ends I wore in my endless games as a child)

Rosa Fay said...

My god! Not in the wars again? Dear me. I hope you get better soon!!

Ah, Keats, how I do love thee '-in faery lands forlorn. Forlorn! the very word is like a bell, To toll me back from thee to my sole self!' His poetry is like music.

I remember you telling me about this one. Fantastic outfit! It really is as lovely as you described it. The hat is the perfect finishing touch.

Alex said...

I adore the lightning colour of the blouse!

Sasha said...

Poor u, I hope you get better soon. I love the shoes and the jacket. I love autumn when it is achey autumn, lets hope we get a proper session this year

Fashionistable said...

I wish you a very speedy recovery sweetheart. It is lovely to see this time of year again with you. The haybales are wonderful props and the skies are always so expansive and amongst it all you, looking wonderful as always. Keats obviously felt the season change keenly. I just hope that summer, what there is of it manages to hang on until the end of the month as I will be spending most of it outside. Xxxx

daisychain said...

Oh goodness, wishing your poor ankle well!

I love Keats, Ode to Autumn is a favourite x

The Cat Who Walked by Herself said...

a pleasure to read!
get well soon!

Melanie said...

Poetry felt with the heart, sometimes more than with the head. That resonates with painting as well. I told my abstract workshop participants that I didn't want to read their paintings but FEEL them. It's not an easy thing to let things flow. Your writing is such a joy to read. I would like to hear your poem on "night-intensive-moisturizing-gel." :)

I am sending you thoughts for a speedy recovery! The world is a better place when we can believe there's nothing more natural than balancing on a bale of hay while reading Keats.

Fashio nutter said...

What an awesome post, love the photos and your outfit looks awesome. :-)

Follow each other?

Estefanía Ainoza said...

Great pictures!! I love it!!

Tara said...

This is such a beautifully written and utterly resonant piece - full of "wise saws" and "modern instances", to quote Shakespeare.
I have been increasingly taken by the works of Keats of late - "Ode to a Nightingale" and "Fancy" are my particular favourites - and it is a complete joy to see you referencing him in such a wonderful post.
I am so sorry to hear about your ailment - it sounds absolutely terrible. But, I know for an indisputable fact that you are made of far sterner stuff - not many people can undergo the perils and pain of a spinal fusion and the subsequent physiotherapy, and go on to achieve the feats you have.
Thank you, once again, for your ridiculously lovely comment on "In The Eye of The Beholder". It was completely unexpected and I am so grateful for you taking the time to read it and comment so extensively. I hope my email reached you in good health and that you make a super-speedy recovery - those gorgeous heels of yours won't wear themselves!

Best Wishes,


SabinePsynopsis said...

It's so lovely to have you back, Roz - how awful this thing with your ankle. Hope you get better soon! I often find it difficult to relate to poems, but Keats I love. xoxo


My girls used to call those roll of hay giant WEETABIX, they still do.
Sorry to hear about your ankle, but I see you are i great company with Keat.
What a beautiful and clever girl you are, dear Rosalind.

Natalie Suarez said...

Dylana and I are beyond excited to finally meet you in London!! EEPERS!! xx

Willow said...

Ouch! Sounds like you're in the wars, I have an alright pain tolerance but I don't like needles - when I was younger I tore my lip and chin open, I wasn't worried about that, or the surgeon re-aligning my lip, it was when I realised he had to use a needle to do so.
I hope you get better soon, and for the meantime I hope you enjoy your books. When you wrote about this I also imagined that while you're stranded to the sofa that your parents were getting you coffees/teas - if so: enjoy

I have never read Keats, but from what you've written I'm interested in taking a look at his work.

I love the photos (especially the first, third and fifth) and I never thought I'd see the combination of socks and sandals and it would look good - but this looks great!

- Willow

Jean at said...

I smiled when I first saw your post; I love the poses on the hay in your fashionable outfit. Then, moving on, I enjoyed your insightful musings on Keats. I'm definitely a person who feels poetry more than I understand it, for the most part, so I felt validated by your observation :-)

Your infection sounds so unpleasant, at least the needle part does. At least you have the sofa and books. I hope you recover quickly!!!

Closet Fashionista said...

I am in love with this look.
As for Keats and poetry, I haven't read any in so long, I really need to read more...your blog always makes me feel like such a slacker ;) (it's a good thing, I need to read...)
I hope your foot gets better soon, that must be horrible!

Izzy/Bella said...

I just adore you, Rosalind. It's so rare to read literary criticism that's accessible and passionate as well as thoughtful and philosophical. You're only what...17? And you've achieved that perfect balance.

Keats was my first poetry love. I encountered him in a roundabout way. Now, I have no right to suggest books to you, because I still need to read "How to Be a Woman", but I think you might love the book I discovered Keats in. It's called "Tam Lin". It's a modern re-telling of that (I think) Scottish legend, set on a midwestern, liberal arts campus, and starring a heroine that I just know you'll fall in love with as much as I did. To illustrate to her American friends why poetry is still wonderful and resonant, she recites "La Belle Dame sans Merci" and I fell in love with Keats and poetry in that moment.

I'm sorry I haven't had a chance to write you back. My excuse (family visiting, pregnancy stuff) sounds far too flimsy after reading your last paragraph. I'm so sorry you're hurt! I'm glad you've got Angela Carter to keep you company (she is WONDERFUL, too), but I hope you feel much better very soon and are back to those gorgeous, stunning heels in a jiffy. I always want to wear socks with heels, but I haven't quite figured out the trick. Plus at the moment true high heels are out for a few months more anyway :)

A big hug and a big wish for you to get better soon!

OrigamiGirl said...

It is good to hear the romantics being really enjoyed. My English Lit romanticism professor always said that Keats was an excellent writer with nothing much to say. He died too young to experience a great deal. I am afraid he is not in my top poets. I like the romantics but I prefer Coleridge and Blake to be honest. And of course Thomas De Quincy. My favourite romantic of all.

I would also say that the 'sublime' notion of beauty has not, in my opinion, been replaced with a hollow beauty of magazines or ads. The interest in physical beauty was also present at the time of writing, no matter the period we have always had make-up and fashions. He is talking about something quite different. The sublime is the moment of both awe and terror in something beautiful. I think that what Keats and the romantics express can be experienced today climbing a mountain or in many areas of life. People still have many different definitions of beauty. Hope you don't mind me putting my comments on him in!

Beckerman Girls said...

Love your blog!! And love your pics on the haystacks!! Adorable!!! Soooo gorgeous!

x Beckerman Girls

Ireland Casswell-Clarkson said...

It looks like one of those beautiful day where the the weather is not quite sure what it's doing.
The light, colour and clothing really works in contrast. Great hat.

Kelly-Marie said...

I am a big Keats fan and you get a capital B for how beautifully you have written about him. I love Autumn so much and always think of that Poem.
What a wonderful prop you have made out of that bale of Hay, as always you look so wonderful. I hope your ankle feels better soon, you poor thing. Sending get well thoughts to you. xx

Maya Topadze Griggs (Soccer Mom Style) said...

These shots are so charming. I love the color combination of your socks with those caramel (?) shoes. So sorry about your ankle. Wish you super speedy recovery.

Fashion Tales said...

I always enjoyed Keats. I hope you get better very soon. All of those bales of hay reminds me of when I visit my parents. These photos, and your outfit ... simply adore!

adrielleroyale said...

This is a lovely outfit with (as usual) such a beautiful backdrop :) I do hope you feel better soon!! What you've described sounds horrible :( However, knowing the smidgen of what you've already been through, I have full confidence that you'll bounce back in no time! :)

Jessica W said...

Gosh I hope your ankle gets better soon. Infections around feet suck so much.

The Lovelorn

The Foolish Aesthete said...

Poets just have such a gift. They not only express what (lacking) mortals are feeling and thinking. They deliver those thoughts and feelings in such a musical package that cannot help but intensify them. Thank you for reminding me to pick up Keats from the shelf. And your images are visual poetry. The vermilion and gold are the prism's expression of summer stepping into fall.

I am so sorry to hear of your ankle! I hope the infection goes away very soon. If your misery wants company, about 3 weeks ago I was peppered in yellow jacket stings after accidentally stepping on their nest in the woods, trying, of all things, to hang a bee trap on the branch right above. So I truly commiserate with your balloon of a foot, through my alien landscape of lumps. I spent the week in a haze of antihistamines and cortisone creams.

Hope to see you in heels very soon! -- J xx

Alex Edward said...

Yes, I completely agree with the above discussed points. It is a healthy discussion here for learners

bee said...

Love your blog so much. Very inspirational. You are a mystical siren from one of my books. Beautiful.
I notice you wear alot of your gran-mumma's vintage pieces. Would you one day post some photos of her? I would love that.
Thank you, Beth xx

Nadia Simmer said...

You should become a model, seriously!

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