For our collective worship this morning, the children came in and then left quietly to the sound of Gundula Janowitz singing (with the Berlin Philharmonic) the Four Last Songs of Richard Strauss (words by Hermann Hesse). For most children, this kind of singing, with orchestral accompaniment, is not part of their musical diet, but the song settled upon them in a beautiful way. We listened to the second of the songs, September, and then I read the poem in translation, so we could reflect a little on the quietness of a garden that is adjusting to the end of summer, with the warmest of seasons “slipping into sleep.”
I don’t know where Hesse was when he wrote these beautiful words (maybe in his garden in Ticino), but until we had heavy rains today, September has felt like a season of growth in Milton Keynes, rather than the end of summer. The pictures here are from the courtyard at Christ the Sower, and there is plenty going on – marrows and beans harvested yesterday, the apple trees laden and the hollyhocks in full bloom. Yet the spirit behind the quieting of the year is welcome to me, and accompanies the move from a period of relative leisure to a period of hard work. Coldness is welcome for such an enterprise.