"a matron in the sere and yellow leaf"

Discussion in 'English Only' started by eric00, Dec 18, 2006.

  1. eric00 Senior Member

    HI everyone:
    Yesterday when I read Hardy's " The Three Strangers", I found a sentence so confusing!

    The grass has long been green on the graves of Shepherd Fennel and his frugal wife; the guests who made up the christening party have mainly followed their entertainers to the tomb; the baby in whose honor they all had met is a matron in the sere and yellow leaf.

    How can a matron be in a leaf?! It's truely a question!:confused:
    Thanks for your concern in advance!

  2. Joelline

    Joelline Senior Member

    USA (W. Pennsylvania)
    American English
    It probably means that she is a matron in the autumn or end of her life. The sere and yellow leaves allusion is surely borrowed from Macbeth: "My way of life has fallen into the sere, the yellow leaf…" (5.3.22-23).
  3. eric00 Senior Member

    Thanks Joelline! I didn't know here is an allusion. Now it's clear, thanks again!
  4. Jeanphilip New Member

    In Conan Doyle, A Study in Scarlet, Chapter 4 : "...,he can't be quite in the sere and yellow."
  5. pwmeek

    pwmeek Senior Member

    SE Michigan, USA
    English - American
    The two identical uses suggest that this must have been a set phrase in BE at one time. It was probably a frequently used allusion to the Shakespearean quotation.

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