“Autumn” by T.E. Hulme

A touch of cold in the Autumn night—
I walked abroad,
And saw the ruddy moon lean over a hedge
Like a red-faced farmer.
I did not stop to speak, but nodded,
And round about were the wistful stars
With white faces like town children.

Love this simple “autumn ” poem by T.E.Hulme-the way the poet mixes up a metaphor with a simile without attempting to segregate them in the reader’s perception. First let us focus on the first person who is narrating the experience.

The narrator’s sensory experiences can be summarised this way:

..cold touches him-
A tactile experience. It is an autumn night and there is nip in the air.
He walked abroad
A motor activity of walking “abroad” (outdoors). He keeps walking but does not stop by to greet the moon ,only nods.
He saw the ruddy moon
A visual experience of seeing the ruddy moon.Seeing the moon is chancing upon it as he is walking .No imagery .But seeing a ruddy moon is a visual +experience because seeing is supplemented by imagination.

The ruddy moon is a metaphor mixed with an act of seeing.You do not see a ruddy moon but seeing it red you imagine it as ruddy and extend the metaphor to a red-faced farmer leaning on the fence.

The moon is ruddy because it is just rising over the fence and looks as if leaning on it.The moon looks like a red-faced farmer leaning on the hedge . The moon is ruddy but not the farmer, who is merely red-faced (ruddy to a lesser extent). The farmer is red-faced because he sees the city children with their white faces. The stars look white-faced in the sky against a dim moon and when the moon later sheds his ruddiness they will be less white-faced.

The ruddy moon metaphor extends to the activities of a farmer who leans on the hedge, turns red-faced at the town children stars and silently participates in the narrator’s imagined activity of stopping to speak/ “but nodded”

The stars are wistful and white-faced while the moon is ruddy. The metaphor runs parallel along with the other metaphor of the farmer – moon, dim in his light just now against the stars currently brighter.

The colors are ruddy for the farmer and moon but white for the stars and town children. Ruddiness stands for a passionate nature while white stands for either innocence or city-bred paleness against the farmer’s healthy village complexion.