A Crown of Autumn Leaves
BY ANNIE FINCH
Holding past summer’s hold,
Open and strong,
One of the leaves in the crown is gold…
A cool front moving through the West Texas desert makes me think of autumn.
Yet, it is summer. And, it was in the summer of 1867 when Emperor Franz Joseph and his wife, Empress Elisabeth, were crowned King and Queen of Hungary at St. Matthias Church in Budapest.
This was quite the event. The Coronation was one of the most spectacular pageants on the Continent and covered extensively in the papers of Paris and London.
The royal carriage covered
with gems and gold & drawn
by eight white horses, 182
aristocrats elegantly dressed,
a grand procession, maidens
in white with flowers..
St Stephen’s Crown
on a velvet cushion,
five days of banquets…
Even a special Coronation Mass was composed by famous Hungarian Franz Liszt. Here is a selection:
Liszt’s “Benedictus, the invocation for divine help and guidance, is rhythmic and trance-like, similar to a chant.
Annie Finch’s poem, “A Crown of Autumn Leaves” is from her book Calendars, a book of poems organized around ritual chants and the seasons.
This poem is so lovely with the repetition of the vowel sounds. The “o” summons the circling of the crown of fallen leaves.
Here is my crown
Of winding vine,
Of leaves that dropped,
That fingers twined,
to yield and shine
The crown of leaves shines…but like the King and Queen of Hungary, so soon it is nevermore.