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!