Sunday 21 January 2018

Poetry - Ulick O'Connor: Belfast poet who evoked beauty of an Irish autumn

Revival: Reid's novels and poems are being republished
Revival: Reid's novels and poems are being republished

What a beautiful autumn. The best ever here, the experts tell us. I think no one has caught the Irish autumn in verse better than Forrest Reid has. You might ask who he was.

Well, Forrest Reid was a Belfast poet and novelist who chose to live in his native city, and use London and Dublin as outlets for his work.

According to the London Spectator, he was "one of the three best poets writing in English of his time".

Happily, his novels and poems are having a whopping revival today and are being republished by Valancourt Books, USA.

Reid was quite openly homosexual which, in those days, was a criminal offence, and subject to severe penalties. Yet the RUC never came round to his house on Ormiston Crescent where he held his parties. Some mystery here.

Now for Reid's splendid poem about autumn.


Slowly, one by one,

Through the damp-smelling, misty air of autumn

The delicate leaves drop down,

Covering the grass like a carpet -

A carpet woven in gold and silver:-

And the sun,

Shining through the bare black trees,

Turns to a glory of gold these dying woods.

Let the winds scatter

The broken scarlet web of autumn wide over the world!

Soft with sleep,

Let the delicate air sign through the naked branches,

That still preserve their beauty.

Gone, gone, is their merriment. Only an echo remains

While the curtain of night is descending;

But how lovely that echo! -

Lovelier far than the shouts and the laughter, the

Songs and the childish play:-

Lovely as autumn.

Forrest Reid 1875-1947

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