Thursday, September 22, 2016

Autumn Poems

Today, September 22,  2016 is the first day of Autumn, or the Autumnal Equinox, or if you prefer, the Fall Equinox.  In recognition of this, here are a few poems about autumn. 

No. 12

The morns are meeker than they were --
The nuts are getting brown --
The berry's cheek is plumper --
The Rose is out of town.

The Maple wears a gayer scarf --
The field a scarlet gown --
Lest I should be old fashioned
I'll put a trinket on.

-- Emily Dickinson --
from The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson

With the moon-rising .. .
   Leaf after leaf after leaf
        Falls fluttering down
                     -- Shiki --
from Cherry-Blossoms: Japanese Haiku Series III
tran. not given

     The mountain grows darker,
Taking the scarlet
    From the autumn leaves.
                     -- Buson --
from Silent Flowers
trans R. H. Blyth

Clear autumn sky
   One pine tree
Soaring on the ridge.
               -- Soseki --
from Zen Haiku
Trans and edited by Soiku Shigematsu

Song at the Beginning of Autumn

Now watch this autumn that arrives
In smells.  All looks like summer still;
Colours are quite unchanged, the air
On green and white serenely thrives.
Heavy the trees with growth and full
The fields.  Flowers flourish everywhere.

Proust who collected time within
A child's cake would understand
The ambiguity of this--
Summer still raging while a thin
column of smoke stirs from the land
Proving that autumn gropes for us.

But every season is a kind
Of rich nostalgia.  We give names--
Autumn and summer, winter, spring--
As though to unfasten from the mind
Our moods and give them outward forms.
We want the certain, solid thing

But I am carried back against
My will into a childhood where
Autumn is bonfires, marbles. smoke;
I lean against my window fenced
From evocations in the air.
When I said autumn, autumn broke. 

-- Elizabeth Jennings --
from Collected Poems

 When I think of autumn, I do not think of autumn in Tucson, where I've lived for over 45 years.  Instead, I think of autumn in Chicago, where I grew up.


  1. my renewed life:
    how ancient
    autumn is!

    to the end of the field
    all alone i go:
    autumn sky.

    one huge rock
    on the riverbed:
    autumn water.

    natsume soseki

    1. Mudpuddle,

      Clear autumn sky
      One pine tree
      Soaring on the ridge.

      -- Soseki --
      Zen Haiku

    2. Mudpuddle,

      Yes, I almost included that one but decided four would be best.

      I've changed my mind. I will add it to the post. Thanks for reminding me of Soseki.

  2. Thanks, Fred. I especially enjoyed Emily Dickinson's poem. It gave me a chuckle especially about the Rose.

    No, not much autumn in Tucson. When I lived in northern Arizona, we had an autumn and very cold weather in the winter, but being in the high desert with not much in the way of trees except for juniper, we didn't get the glorious colors.

  3. Madamevauquer,

    In late October, I drive to Mt. Lemmon and enjoy a bit of color up there. It's 9000+ ft high, and there are a few aspen, so there's touch of yellow around the ski run.

  4. Three cheers for Emily's trinket! She warms my frosty heart.

    1. R.T.,

      Yes, that is a personal touch. It's also a celebratory poem, in a way.

  5. Wonderful evocative stuff, Fred. When I think of autumn I think automatically: back to school. I also remember the cheery autumns in NYC where I grew up. In a way, autumn to me means Manhattan.

    1. Yvette,

      Elizabeth Jennings's observation that autumn memories seem formed in childhood does strikes home to me also.

      I wonder if it's because it's childhood or because my childhood memories fit in with the traditional autumnal imagery.