September 1st: ‘We must love one another or die’

I have mixed feelings about September.

As a child I hated September because I had to go back to school, and I was one of those children who didn’t like school very much before the age of 12, and although it improved after that, I never really got to like school, which is why it’s so surprising that I became a teacher, which leads me onto the next point.

As an adult, I also dislike (hate is such a childish word) September because I have to go back to school, and although I enjoy my job, I prefer to be on holiday, because my time is my own.

September is truly a wicked and cruel month, and not August, as Edna O’Brien claimed, or April, as T. S. Elliot proposed.

I have always thought Auden’s poem September, had a good point when he used words such as ‘hopes expire’, ‘anger’, ‘fear’, ‘odour of death’, of course he wasn’t talking about school. He was describing his feelings regarding the outbreak of the Second World War, marked by the invasion of Poland on that day, in 1939.

The following is the first stanza:

September 1, 1939 

I sit in one of the dives
On Fifty-second Street
Uncertain and afraid
As the clever hopes expire
Of a low dishonest decade:
Waves of anger and fear
Circulate over the bright
And darkened lands of the earth,
Obsessing our private lives;
The unmentionable odour of death
Offends the September night.

This depressing poem, which expresses anger, fear, and sorrow, due to the outbreak of the war includes Auden’s darkest and most foreboding line: “We must love one another or die”.

On the other hand, September is also a delicious month, which is mostly warm and welcoming, as the summer languidly blends into autumn.

Fortunately, Helen Hunt Jackson, (1830-1885), US poet, born in Amherst, the same place and the same year as Emily Dickinson, although she moved away in her youth, wrote a delightful poem called September, which reminds us of the beauty of this month.

Hunt recreates a harvest month of mellowing fruit, and golden meadows and butterflies.

The final two stanzas remind us how beautiful September is:

But none of all this beauty
Which floods the earth and air
Is unto me the secret
Which makes September fair.

‘T is a thing which I remember;
To name it thrills me yet:
One day of one September
I never can forget.

I’m beginning to change my mind about September.

I have to change my mind.

September is a beautiful month, which we’ll be sharing with plenty of posts, because Auden was right. We either create positive energy or perish.

Finally, a present for the first day of September: a beautiful song by Earth, Wind, and Fire. Enjoy!

11 thoughts on “September 1st: ‘We must love one another or die’

  1. I’ve always loved September, maybe because I loved school. Also fall is such a spectacular season and here in NC, some relief after a long hot summer. I was never able to take time off in September, except during the year my son Patrick was born and I had maternity leave.
    There is a lovely poem by Helen Hunt Jackson (!830-1885) called September…

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  2. September is an ambivalent month, by turns baking and blowsy, and bleak and blowy. My father loved the month and wrote this some time in the 60s, based on his memories as a 13 year old of that fateful September in 1939 – each year as a child he spent the school holidays in Cambridgeshire working on the local farm and staying with his aunt and uncle.

    September 1939

    A slight breeze stirred the topmost twigs of my Uncle Edgar’s Victoria plum. The old tree was laden with fruit, rich and rosy-yellow, hanging like swollen raindrops along a gatebar. Overburdened branches sagged, and wasps, already gorged stupid on sweet juice, sluggishly shouldered their way into soft, ripe flesh.
    On my way in the long grass I gazed upward, squinting against the flickering sunlight. Leaves rustled, and a plum, half-filled with wasps, thudded quietly into the grass. For a few moments the disturbed occupants stopped eating and murmured crossly.
    Now only the sun seemed to move, warming my face as it rose higher above the trees. I daydreamed, in a world all green and golden and fragrant with the perfume of my Aunt Mabel’s Sweet Williams.
    My eyelids drooped.
    I head the kitchen window being opened and my Uncle saying, ‘Turn on the wireless, Mabel’. There was a peculiar whistling sound. The wireless set was warming up. Atmospherics scratched and crackled, then a tinny voice said ‘-no such undertaking has been received and consequently this country is at war with Germany.’
    I lay still. Down in the orchard a woodpigeon was cooing drowsily. Near my head there was another squashy thump. It was a marvellous year for plums.

    Hope it cheers up the September blues, Luccia!

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    1. Thank you for writing this wondwrful comment. Your wrote a beautiful description of such a memorable moment. I can hear the crackling radio 🙂 The way it’s written certainly cheered me up! I’m still in a September daze… slowly dropping down to reality. …

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  3. I really like the September poem. I always hated September because of the school thing— I had many school troubles because I have an autism spectrum disorder, and back in the long-ago days when I was in school they didn’t understand that and thought I was lazy, anti-social, uncooperative and just plain bad.

    But now that I am older, I like September because the weather is ideal— not too hot, but not yet cold and blizzard-y. And right now I am grateful for new Doctor Who episodes…

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    1. I like September more as the years go by. Back to school was hard. It’s getting easier now I’m a teacher:) Teachers are more aware today of learner differences and their needs, but often there’s not enough support. One teacher with mire than 30 students is tough.
      Thank you for dropping by and commenting 🙂

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  4. I really like the September poem. I always hated September because of the school thing— I had many school troubles because I have an autism spectrum disorder, and back in the long-ago days when I was in school they didn’t understand that and thought I was lazy, anti-social, uncooperative and just plain bad.

    But now that I am older, I like September because the weather is ideal— not too hot, but not yet cold and blizzard-y. And right now I am grateful for new Doctor Who episodes…

    Like

  5. I’m glad you worked your way from the depths to the heights in this post. Lovely journey! Thanks again for reminding me that the contrasts are what make it all so much more vivid.

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