Chanson d'Automne

Autumn is lurking. Days are significantly shorter, condensation is making a comeback, leaves are turning red, and I have started to feel melancholic... I tend to suffer from low moods in winter, but this year, I am determined to fight it off. So yesterday, while my boy Zak, was playing at the park with his friends, I scoured the ground around me for pretty autumn 'finds'. I filled my bag with fallen leaves that had turned different shades of red, some red and green berries, pine cones, dried brown twigs while reciting Verlaine's poem in my head (at least I think it was in my head) "Les sanglots longs des violons de l'automne, Blessent mon coeur d'une langueur monotone...".

I am going to make pretty floral arrangements for our table. I am just back from France with these cute little silver cups I dug up in one of my favourite haunts. These will be perfect for this project.


I shall also need an oasis to lay at the bottom to prick my harvest into. I have holly, fern, brown and ivy leaves, pine needles and cones, red and green berries. Of course, you could use any foliage or recipient that takes your fancy. A plastic container such as the butt of a plastic bottle will also work, just have enough greenery overhanging to hide the base.

first stage

This is the great thing about such a project, it doesn't have to cost anything and you can get really lovely decorations for your home or for any special events you might be planning (if you do need to buy oasis foam, you get a large brick for about a pound and it can be re-used). I remember making similar arrangements for my son's christening dinner table and getting a lot of compliments for them. I am making just two, so I choose the best bits and divide them into two similar piles.

second stage

I try to have 'highs and lows' to make the arrangement more attractive: some leaves to cover the base, berries nesting in the middle and pine needles to create some contrast in height. It takes moments and doesn't it look lovely? 


I dress my Sunday table with this lovely Indian cotton serviette and place mat set over a linen tablecloth to complement the colours of the bouquets. Away with you weeping violins!

on the table

close up


Chanson d’automne

Les sanglots longs
Des violons
De l’automne
Blessent mon coeur
D’une langueur

Tout suffocant
Et blême, quand
Sonne l’heure,
Je me souviens
Des jours anciens
Et je pleure

Et je m’en vais
Au vent mauvais
Qui m’emporte
Deçà, delà,
Pareil à la
Feuille morte.

Paul Verlaine, Poèmes saturniens (1866)


Here translated by Arthur Symons in Poems (First Collected Edition, 1902):

“Autumn Song” by Paul Verlaine

When a sighing begins
In the violins
Of the autumn-song,
My heart is drowned
In the slow sound
Languorous and long

Pale as with pain,
Breath fails me when
The hours toll deep.
My thoughts recover
The days that are over,
And I weep.

And I go
Where the winds know,
Broken and brief,
To and fro,
As the winds blow
A dead leaf.

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