It's probably still summer
where you are, but to meteorologists, autumn begins
on September first. The fall is my favorite season
here in the mid-Atlantic, so here's a few poems to
get the season started.
actually takes place in that transitional period
between summer and fall. Robert Frost beautifully
captures the time in "The Oven Bird":
"There is a singer everyone has heard,
Loud, a mid-summer and a mid-wood bird,
Who makes the solid tree trunks sound again.
He says that leaves are old…
The bird would cease and be as other birds
But that he knows in singing not to sing.
The question that he frames in all but words
Is what to make of a diminished thing." (1)
best known poem for English readers about autumn is,
of course, John Keats' great ode, "To Autumn":
"Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run….
Where are the songs of spring? Ay, Where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too…."
excerpting cannot do justice to this poem, so I urge
the reader to read the entire work for herself. (2)
Less well known is a poem by
German poet Rainer Maria Rilke called "Herbsttag"
(titled "Day in Autumn" in Mary Kinzie's translation):
"After the summer's yield, Lord, it is time
to let your shadow lengthen on the sundials
and in the pastures let the rough winds fly." (3)
American poet Samuel Menashe is
sadly almost unknown to most readers, but not for
lack of talent. His poem "Autumn" is a small gem:
"I walk outside the stone wall
Looking into the park at night
As armed trees frisk a windfall
Down paths that lampposts light" (4)
are well worth seeking out. A good start is his "New
and Selected Poems," published by the Library of
Mary Oliver, on the other hand, is
very famous, for a poet at least, and popular even
with those who may not ordinarily read poetry.
"Don't you imagine the leaves dream now
how comfortable it will be to touch
the earth instead of the
nothingness of the air and the endless
freshets of wind? And don't you think
the trees, especially those with
mossy hollows, are beginning to look for
the fires that will come—six, a dozen—to sleep
inside their bodies?" ("Song to Autumn") (6)
It's clear that autumn is a
particularly poetic time of year. The Poetry
Foundation alone lists dozens of poems by a wide
variety of poets on the topic. I myself have penned a
few autumnal poems, such as "Autumn With Dog":
"Some say autumn's not
the season of dying
but rather of life renewing—
to be honest, I just now
thought that, scuffing
through the dead leaves,
Bella in the lead. Who knows
what her nose might turn up
even now under those leaves,
or what, after they decompose
into soil, might be found
© 2022, Gregory Luce
Finally, we come to a possibly
unexpected poet. Joan Mitchell was one of the
greatest American painters of the 20th Century. Many,
however, are unaware that she was also a fine poet.
We'll close with a poem that, remarkably, she
composed at the age of 10:
"The rusty leaves crunch and crackle,
Blue haze hangs from the dimmed sky,
The fields are matted with sun-tanned stalks‚ÄČ—
Wind rushes by.
The last red berries hang from the thorn-tree,
The last red leaves fall to the ground.
Bleakness, through the trees and bushes,
Comes without sound." ("Autumn") (7)
I wish my readers a mellow and restful season.
(6) https://bookriot.com/autumn-poems/ Other fine poems for the season here as well.