Autumn， wherever it is， always has something to recommend itself. In North China， however， it is particularly limpid， serene and melancholy. To enjoy its atmosphere to the full in the onetime capital， I have， therefore， made light of travelling a long distance from Hangzhou to Qingdao， and thence to Peiping.
There is of course autumn in the South too， but over there plants wither slowly， the air is moist， the sky pallid， and it is more often rainy than windy. While muddling along all by myself among the urban dwellers of Suzhou， Shanghai， Hangzhou， Xiamen， Hong Kong or Guangzhou， I feel nothing but a little chill in the air， without ever relishing to my heart’s content the flavor， color， mood and style of the season. Unlike famous flowers which are most attractive when half opening， good wine which is most tempting when one is half drunk， autumn， however， is best appreciated in its entirety.
It is more than a decade since I last saw autumn in North. When I am in the South， the arrival of each autumn will put me in mind of Peiping’s Tao Ran Ting with its reed catkins， Diao Yu Tai with its shady willow trees， Western Hills with their chirping insects， Yu Quan Shan Mountain on a moonlight evening and Tan Zhe Si with its reverberating bell. Suppose you put up in a humble rented house inside the bustling imperial city， you can， on getting up at dawn， sit in your courtyard sipping a cup of strong tea， leisurely watch the high azure skies and listen to pigeons circling overhead. Saunter eastward under locust trees to closely observe streaks of sunlight filtering through their foliage， or quietly watch the trumpet-shaped blue flowers of morning glories climbing half way up a dilapidated wall， and an intense feeling of autumn will of itself well up inside you. As to morning glories， I like their blue or white flowers best， dark purple ones second best， and pink ones third best. It will be most desirable to have them set off by some tall thin grass planted underneath here and there.
Locust trees in the North， as a decorative embellishment of nature， also associate us with autumn. On getting up early in the morning， you will find the ground strewn all over with flower-like pistils fallen from locust trees. Quiet and smellless， they feel tiny and soft underfoot. After a street cleaner has done the sweeping under the shade of the trees， you will discover countless lines left by his broom in the dust， which look so fine and quiet that somehow a feeling of forlornness will begin to creep up on you. The same depth of implication is found in the ancient saying that a single fallen leaf from the Chinese parasol tree is more than enough to inform the world of autumn’s presence.
The sporadic feeble chirping of cicadas is especially characteristic of autumn in the North. Due to the abundance of trees and the low altitude of dwellings in Peiping， cicadas are audible in every nook and cranny of the city. In the South， however， one cannot hear them unless in suburbs or hills. Because of their ubiquitous shrill noise， these insects in Peiping seem to be living off every household like crickets or mice.
As for autumn rains in the North， they also seem to differ from those in the South， being more appealing， more temperate.
Fruit trees in the North also make a wonderful sight in autumn. Take jujube tree for example. They grow everywhere—around the corner of a house， at the foot of a wall， by the side of a latrine or outside a kitchen door. It is at the height of autumn that jujubes， shaped like dates or pigeon eggs， make their appearance in a light yellowish-green amongst tiny elliptic leaves. By the time when they have turned ruddy and the leaves fallen， the north-westerly wind will begin to reign supreme and make a dusty world of the North. Only at the turn of July and August when jujubes， persimmons， grapes are 80—90 percent ripe will the North have the best of autumn—the golden days in a year.
Some literary critics say that Chinese literati， especially poets， are mostly disposed to be decadent， which accounts for predominance of Chinese works singing the praises of autumn. Well， the same is true of foreign poets， isn’t it？ I haven’t read much of foreign poetry and prose， nor do I want to enumerate autumn-related poems and essays in foreign literature. But， if you browse through collected works of English， German， French or Italian poets， or various countries’ anthologies of poetry or prose， you can always come across a great many literary pieces eulogizing or lamenting autumn. Long pastoral poems or songs about the four seasons by renowned poets are mostly distinguished by beautiful moving lines on autumn. All that goes to show that all live creatures and sensitive humans alike are prone to the feeling of depth， remoteness， severity and bleakness. Not only poets， even convicts in prison， I suppose， have deep sentiments in autumn in spite of themselves. Autumn treats all humans alike， regardless of nationality， race or class. However， judging from Chinese idiom qiushi （autumn scholar， meaning and aged scholar grieving over frustrations in his life） and frequent selection in textbooks of Ouyang Xiu’s On the Autumn Sough and Su Dongpo’s On the Red Cliff， Chinese men of letters seem to be particularly autumn-minded. But， to know the real flavor of autumn， especially China’s autumn， one has to visit the North.
Autumn in the South also has its unique features， such as the moonlit Ershisi Bridge in Yangzhou， the flowing sea tide at the Qiantangjiang River， the mist-shrouded Putuo Mountain and lotuses at the Lizhiwan Bay. But they all lack strong color and lingering flavor. Southern autumn is to Northern autumn what yellow rice wine is to white spirit， congee to steamed buns， perches to crabs， yellow dogs to camels.
Autumn， I mean Northern autumn， if only it could be made to last forever！ I would be more than willing to keep but one-third of my life span and have two-thirds of it bartered for the prolonged stay of the season！
August 1934， in Peiping.
有些批评家说，中国的文人学士，尤其是诗人，都带着很浓厚的颓废色彩，所以中国的诗文里，赞颂秋的文字特别的多。但外国的诗人，又何尝不然？ 我虽则外国诗文念得不多，也不想开出账来，做一篇秋的诗歌散文钞，但你若去一翻英德法意等诗人的集子，或各國的诗文的Anthology来，总能够看到许多关于秋的歌颂和悲啼。各著名的大诗人的长篇田园诗或四季诗里，也总以关于秋的部分，写得最出色而最有味。足见有感觉的动物，有情趣的人类，对于秋，总是一样地特别能引起深沉、幽远、严厉、萧索的感触来的。不单是诗人，就是被关闭在牢狱里的囚犯，到了秋天，我想也一定能感到一种不能自已的深情；秋之于人， 何尝有国别，更何尝有人种阶级的区别呢？不过在中国，文字里有一个“秋士”的成语，读本里又有着很普遍的欧阳子的《秋声》与苏东坡的《赤壁赋》等，就觉得中国的文人，与秋的关系特别深了。可是这秋的深味，尤其是中国的秋的深味，非要在北方，才感受得到底。
A sudden gust of cool wind under the slaty sky， and raindrops will start pitter-pattering. Soon when the rain is over， the clouds begin gradually to roll towards the west and the sun comes out in the blue sky. Some idle townsfolk， wearing lined or unlined clothing made of thick cloth， will come out pipe in mouth and， loitering under a tree by the end of a bridge， exchange leisurely conversation with acquaintances with a slight touch of regret at the passing of time：
“Oh， real nice and cool. ” （The last word was pronounced in high pitch and dragged very long.）
“Sure！ Getting cooler with each autumn shower！”