A Final Flood of Colours

autumn blog best

I was saddened to hear this week of the death of the brilliant, and very amusing writer, poet and critic, Clive James.

I have only one link to Clive James, and that is our deep love for Japanese Maple trees!  I wrote the following post some time ago and rather eerily, I was rushed into hospital with pneumonia and sepsis on the day that Clive James died.

Drained and sitting weakly by the window, I feel a cleansing warm breeze waft through the open door, cooling me down. I hear the maple tree shiver to the chinking of delicate chimes. That tree is my pride and joy, a foliate friend, a deciduous delight. At 12 feet tall it is unbridled and bushy. It is not like those at garden centres. This is a thoroughbred tree, the debutante of the Acer world, a Palmatum in its prime. Grown from first generation seed gathered at Westonbirt Arboretum, I have nurtured it for years.   It started life in a humble yoghurt pot in the dark. It progressed to a plant pot on the windowsill then a tub on the patio. At three, petite and pretty, it seemed perfectly happy in its miniature world. But, by the time we moved house ten years ago, I felt it was ready for its own space in the earth. I was careful to plant it in a sheltered spot as Acers hate wind on their leaves. And, judging by how it has thrived, it seems to have found its niche. It has grown and thrived with masses of branches forming arches and tunnels. I’ve had to sacrifice a conservatory for my maple tree as I couldn’t bear to risk damaging the roots by digging foundations. So, my maple and I will just have to sit together in our shady spot growing old together. But it is worth it just to look forward to autumn when it will be glowing red and gold.

When Clive James discovered that his illness was terminal, he too found solace in a Japanese Acer that his daughter had given him.

He wrote a beautiful poem about it which I have memorised and reproduced for you here, called simply Japanese Maple If you click on the link you can hear Clive read the poem himself:

Your death, near now, is of an easy sort.

So slow a fading out brings no real pain.

Breath growing short

Is just uncomfortable. You feel the drain

Of energy, but thought and sight remain:


Enhanced, in fact. When did you ever see

So much sweet beauty as when fine rain falls

On that small tree

And saturates your brick back garden walls,

So many Amber Rooms and mirror halls?


Ever more lavish as the dusk descends

This glistening illuminates the air.

It never ends.

Whenever the rain comes it will be there,

Beyond my time, but now I take my share.


My daughter’s choice, the maple tree is new.

Come Autumn and its leaves will turn to flame.

What I must do

Is live to see that. That will end the game

For me, though life continues all the same:


Filling the double doors to bathe my eyes,

A final flood of colours will live on

As my mind dies,

Burned by my vision of a world that shone

So brightly at the last, and then was gone.


It is comforting to know that Clive James saw 5 more autumns with his beloved maple tree. As I recover slowly from pneumonia, I hope that I see many more with mine.

autumn blog 5

15 thoughts on “A Final Flood of Colours

  1. Very sad to hear that Clive has died. I hope you soon will feel stronger and also live many more years to enjoy your Japanese maple.

    I live in Canada where the sugar maples are absolutely beautiful in the Fall.

    Hope you are well by Christmas and feel like writing again. I do enjoy hearing your blogged messages.

    Liked by 1 person

    • How lovely of you to send such a lovely reply Diana. Thank you. I am feeling stronger bit by bit. I look forward to writing more in 2020.
      Have a very good Christmas and a Happy New Year.
      I only visited Canada once but I loved it so much. My daughter lived for many years in the states, in Vermont, and she used to send me photos of the maple trees being tapped for their syrup- it amazed me. She moved to California eventually to escape the harsh winters!I hope the winter is not too bad for you.


  2. So sorry to hear you have been so unwell. Your writing is beautiful – well done for having the inner strength to put pen to paper again. Hoping that 2020 is better for you. Anna and Roger cxxxxx


  3. Brenda you write so beautifully. I’m so sorry to hear you have been so ill. I wish you a full recovery so that you can continue to enjoy your Japanese maple. We had two of these in our front garden growing up, my dad loved them. Their colours are stunning. Xx


    • Thanks lorraine x I’m spending my recuperation time trying to get to grips with social media 😂 apologies for any random messages you and all my friends receive from Facebook! I haven’t a clue what I’m doing😂


  4. Hi lovely lady, so sorry to hear you’ve had a rubbish year and have been so poorly. Hope you feel better soon and have a good 2020. Big hugs, Chris xxx


  5. Lovely. I too love acers, the wonderful red colour brightens any day. After my late love died and I moved away from my friends, the acers that we planted together, I missed them. I bought two more but one was planted in a windy part of the garden and didn’t survive. I’m now nurturing one in a pot on the patio.


    • Oh Judith what a wrench it is to lose the people and places we love.
      I do hope your new Acer grows and brings joy into your garden and your heart. Thank you for reading x I have had a dreadful year and have not written for a long time. I hope to return to it now.


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