Friday, September 23, 2011

Fall Equinox

Like last year, the first day of autumn, or the Fall Equinox, doesn't seem much like fall here in Tucson, where the temperature is expected to hit 100. But, the Sun and the Stars have decreed that today is the day, so here's a few poems that may be closer to reality in a month or so.

For you in northern climes, therefore:

Under the Harvest Moon

Under the harvest moon,
When the soft silver
Drips shimmering
Over the garden nights,
Death, the gray mocker,
Comes and whispers to you
As a beautiful friend
Who remembers.

Under the summer roses
When the fragrant crimson
Lurks in the dusk
Of the wild red leaves,
Love, with little hands,
Comes and touches you
with a thousand memories,
And asks you
Beautiful, unanswerable questions.

-- Carl Sandburg --

(Autumn--the season of memories . . .)

Yellow autumn moon . . .
Unimpressed the scarecrow stands
Simply looking bored

-- Issa --
from A Little Treasury of Haiku

Autumn Refrain

The skreak and skritter of evening gone
And grackles gone and sorrows of the sun,
The sorrows of the sun, too, gone . . . the moon and moon,
The yellow moon of words about the nightingale
In measureless measures, not a bird for me
But the name of a bird and the name of a nameless air
I have never--shall never hear. And yet beneath
The stillness that comes to me out of this, beneath
The stillness of everything gone, and being still
Being and sitting still, something resides,
Some skreaking and skrittering residuum,
And grates these evasions of the nightingale
Though I have never--shall never hear that bird.
And the stillness is in the key, all of it is,
The stillness is all in the key of that desolate sound.

--Wallace Stevens --

(I find this the most puzzling of the autumn poems.)


The name - of it - is "Autumn" -
The hue - of it - is Blood -
An Artery - upon the Hill -
A Vein - along the Road -

Great Globules - in the Alleys -
And Oh, the Shower of Stain -
When winds - upset the Basin -
And spill the Scarlet Rain -

It sprinkles Bonnets - far slow -
It gathers ruddy Pools -
Then - eddies like a Rose - away -
Upon Vermilion Wheels -

-- Emily Dickinson --
from The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson
ed. Thomas H. Johnson

Autumn Note

The little flowers of yesterday
Have all forgotten May.
The last gold leaf
Has turned to brown.
The last bright day is grey.
The cold of winter comes apace
And you have gone away.

-- Langston Hughes --

Gathering Leaves

Spades take up leaves
No better than spoons,
And bags full of leaves
Are light as balloons.

I make a great noise
Of rustling all day
Like rabbit and deer
Running away.

But the mountains I raise
Elude my embrace,
Flowing over my arms
And into my face.

I may load and unload
Again and again
Till I fill the whole shed,
And what have I then?

Next to nothing for weight,
And since they grew duller
From contact with earth,
Next to nothing for color.

Next to nothing for use.
But a crop is a crop,
And who's to say where
The harvest shall stop?

-- Robert Frost --

(That last line raises some questions, doesn't it? Frost has a habit of doing that. Does the poem end on an ominous note?)

Dry cheerful cricket
Chirping, keeps the autumn gay . . .
Contemptuous of frost

-- Basho --
from A Little Treasury of Haiku
(This poem also seems to end on an ominous note.)

(Just noticed the double tie-ins with the previous poem.)


  1. Fred, You creeped me out with that "Does the poem end on an ominous note?" question after the Gathering Leaves poem! Think of the Grim Reaper and read these two lines again:

    Next to nothing for weight,
    And since they grew duller
    From contact with earth,
    Next to nothing for color.

    Next to nothing for use.
    But a crop is a crop,
    And who's to say where
    The harvest shall stop?

    Maybe you didn't mean that image specifically, but it's what I thought of by the word "ominous". ( Shiver!)

  2. Cheryl,

    Yes, definitely--the Grim Reaper almost jumps out at the reader at the end of Frost's humorous poem (well, at least until the last two lines).

  3. Thanks for posting these, Fred.

  4. Anonymous,

    I'm glad you enjoyed them. Anyone in particular that you especially liked?