The Poetry of Fall

There is something so comforting about the arrival of fall.  When the season begins to lean heavily into August, I find myself longing for the scent of pumpkin, a light blanket on my legs and the scent of frosted grass. My body tells me I’m ready for autumn — and to if I’m honest, I was ready in late July.

Summer has always been my least favorite season; the words “just get through it” run through my head all three months. A very sensitive part of my soul always reaches for eternal fall — a time of transition, a season of change.  It’s the season of beautiful words, of snuggling down to read a book…or a poem. To celebrate the slow, beautiful arrival of autumn, I thought I would share some of my favorite short autumn poems from some of the world’s best, albeit very deceased, poets.

One may ask, “how to best read these poems?”  Some great advice from the Library of Congress suggests, “Read the poem slowly. Read in a normal, relaxed tone of voice; dramatics are not necessary. Only pause where there is punctuation, rather than pausing at a line break. Read with conviction, looking up words you aren’t familiar with ahead of time.”

 Do all this…and then read it again without any rules.  Let autumn wash over you.

“Sonnet 73” by William Shakespeare

That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang…

“To Autumn” by John Keats

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;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells…

“From Sunset to Star Rise” by Christina Rossetti

Go from me, summer friends, and tarry not:
I am no summer friend, but wintry cold,
A silly sheep benighted from the fold,
A sluggard with a thorn-choked garden plot.
Take counsel, sever from my lot your lot,
Dwell in your pleasant places, hoard your gold;
Lest you with me should shiver on the wold,
Athirst and hungering on a barren spot…

“November Night” by Adelaide Crapsey

Like steps of passing ghosts,
The leaves, frost-crisp’d, break from the trees
And fall…

“Autumn” by T. E. Hulme

A touch of cold in the Autumn night –
I walked abroad,
And saw the ruddy moon lean over a hedge
Like a red-faced farmer…

“Autumn Rain” by D. H. Lawrence, 

The plane leaves
fall black and wet
on the lawn;

the cloud sheaves
in heaven’s fields set
droop and are drawn

in falling seeds of rain;
the seed of heaven
on my face

falling — I hear again
like echoes even
that softly pace

heaven’s muffled floor…