Poems of October... Poems of Fall

Reply Sun 5 Oct, 2003 04:55 am
Dear Poetry Lovers,

Fall is in the air... at least in the northern hemisphere. Smile My thoughts have lately turned to that poetic decline of the season and the year. I've read lately <scrambling sounds of a search heard> a few poems that mention October which I'll post along with others for this time of year. Please join me by adding poems that speak of autumn.


When will you learn, myself, to be
a dying leaf on a living tree?
Budding, swelling, growing strong,
Wearing green, but not for long,
Drawing sustenance from air,
That other leaves, and you not there,
May bud, and at the autumn's call
Wearing russet, ready to fall?
Has not this trunk a deed to do
Unguessed by small and tremulous you?
Shall not these branches in the end
To wisdom and the truth ascend?
And the great lightning plunging by
Look sidewise with a golden eye
To glimpse a tree so tall and proud
It sheds its leaves upon a cloud?

Here, I think, is the heart's grief:
The tree, no mightier than the leaf,
Makes firm its root and spreads it crown
And stands; but in the end comes down.
That airy top no boy could climb
Is trodden in a little time
By cattle on their way to drink.
The fluttering thoughts a leaf can think,
That hears the wind and waits its turn,
Have taught it all a tree can learn.
Time can make soft that iron wood.
The tallest trunk that ever stood,
In time, without a dream to keep,
Crawls in beside the root to sleep.

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Reply Sun 5 Oct, 2003 04:56 am

Cold wind of autumn, blowing loud
At dawn, a fortnight overdue,
Jostling the doors, and tearing through
My bedroom to rejoin the cloud,
I know -- for I can hear the hiss
And scrape of leaves along the floor --
How may boughs, lashed bare by this,
Will rake the cluttered sky once more.
Tardy, and somewhat south of east,
The sun will rise at length, made known
More by the meagre light increased
Than by a disk in splendour shown;
When, having but to turn my head,
Through the stripped maple I shall see,
Bleak and remembered, patched with red,
The hill all summer hid from me.

Edna St. Vincent Millay
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Reply Sun 5 Oct, 2003 04:59 am

When reeds are dead and a straw to thatch the marshes,
And feathered pampas-grass rides into the wind
Like aged warriors westward, tragic, thinned
Of half their tribe, and over the flattened rushes,
Stripped of its secret, open, stark and bleak,
Blackens afar the half-forgotten creek,--
Then leans on me the weight of the year, and crushes
My heart. I know that Beauty must ail and die,
And will be born again,--but ah, to see
Beauty stiffened, staring up at the sky!
Oh, Autumn! Autumn!--What is the Spring to me?

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Reply Sun 5 Oct, 2003 05:18 am
Especially when the October wind

Especially when the October wind
With frosty fingers punishes my hair,
Caught by the crabbing sun I walk on fire
And cast a shadow crab upon the land,
By the sea's side, hearing the noise of birds,
Hearing the raven cough in winter sticks,
My busy heart who shudders as she talks
Sheds the syllabic blood and drains her words.

Shut, too, in a tower of words, I mark
On the horizon walking like the trees
The wordy shapes of women, and the rows
Of the star-gestured children in the park.
Some let me make you of the vowelled beeches,
Some of the oaken voices, from the roots
Of many a thorny shire tell you notes,
Some let me make you of the water's speeches.

Behind a post of ferns the wagging clock
Tells me the hour's word, the neural meaning
Flies on the shafted disk, declaims the morning
And tells the windy weather in the cock.
Some let me make you of the meadow's signs;
The signal grass that tells me all I know
Breaks with the wormy winter through the eye.
Some let me tell you of the raven's sins.

Especially when the October wind
(Some let me make you of autumnal spells,
The spider-tongued, and the loud hill of Wales)
With fists of turnips punishes the land,
Some let me make of you the heartless words.
The heart is drained that, spelling in the scurry
Of chemic blood, warned of the coming fury.
By the sea's side hear the dark-vowelled birds.

-- Dylan Thomas
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Reply Sun 5 Oct, 2003 05:42 am
Here's a spooky one... there was once a tenth stanza, but I can't find it.


The skies they were ashen and sober;
The leaves they were crisped and sere --
The leaves they were withering and sere;
It was night in the lonesome October
Of my most immemorial year:
It was hard by the dim lake of Auber,
In the misty mid region of Weir: --
It was down by the dank tarn of Auber,
In the ghoul-haunted woodland of Weir.

Here once, through an alley Titanic,
Of cypress, I roamed with my Soul --
Of cypress, with Psyche, my Soul.
There were days when my heart was volcanic
As the scoriac rivers that roll --
As the lavas that restlessly roll
Their sulphurous currents down Yaanek,
In the ultimate climes of the Pole --
That groan as they roll down Mount Yaanek
In the realms of the Boreal Pole.

Our talk had been serious and sober,
But our thoughts they were palsied and sere --
Our memories were treacherous and sere;
For we knew not the month was October,
And we marked not the night of the year --
(Ah, night of all nights in the year!)
We noted not the dim lake of Auber,
(Though once we had journeyed down here)
We remembered not the dank tarn of Auber,
Nor the ghoul-haunted woodland of Weir.

And now, as the night was senescent,
And star-dials pointed to morn --
As the star-dials hinted of morn --
At the end of our path a liquescent
And nebulous lustre was born,
Out of which a miraculous crescent
Arose with a duplicate horn --
Astarte's bediamonded crescent,
Distinct with its duplicate horn.

And I said -- "She is warmer than Dian:
She rolls through an ether of sighs --
She revels in a region of sighs.
She has seen that the tears are not dry on
These cheeks, where the worm never dies,
And has come past the stars of the Lion,
To point us the path to the skies --
To the Lethean peace of the skies --
Come up, in despite of the Lion,
To shine on us with her bright eyes --
Come up, through the lair of the Lion,
With love in her luminous eyes."

But Psyche, uplifting her finger,
Said -- "Sadly this star I mistrust --
Her pallor I strangely mistrust --
Ah, hasten! -- ah, let us not linger!
Ah, fly! -- let us fly! -- for we must."
In terror she spoke; letting sink her
Wings till they trailed in the dust --
In agony sobbed, letting sink her
Plumes till they trailed in the dust --
Till they sorrowfully trailed in the dust.

I replied -- "This is nothing but dreaming.
Let us on, by this tremulous light!
Let us bathe in this crystalline light!
Its Sybillic splendor is beaming
With Hope and in Beauty to-night --
See! -- it flickers up the sky through the night!
Ah, we safely may trust to its gleaming,
And be sure it will lead us aright --
We safely may trust to a gleaming
That cannot but guide us aright,
Since it flickers up to Heaven through the night."

Thus I pacified Psyche and kissed her,
And tempted her out of her gloom --
And conquered her scruples and gloom;
And we passed to the end of the vista --
But were stopped by the door of a tomb --
By the door of a legended tomb: --
And I said -- "What is written, sweet sister,
On the door of this legended tomb?"
She replied -- "Ulalume -- Ulalume --
'T is the vault of thy lost Ulalume!"

Then my heart it grew ashen and sober
As the leaves that were crisped and sere --
As the leaves that were withering and sere --
And I cried -- "It was surely October
On this very night of last year,
That I journeyed -- I journeyed down here! --
That I brought a dread burden down here --
On this night, of all nights in the year,
Ah, what demon has tempted me here?
Well I know, now, this dim lake of Auber --
This misty mid region of Weir: --
Well I know, now, this dank tarn of Auber --
This ghoul-haunted woodland of Weir."

edit: Did I mention this was by Edgar Allan Poe?
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Reply Sun 5 Oct, 2003 05:43 am
November Night

LISTEN . . .
With faint dry sound,
Like steps of passing ghosts,
The leaves, frost-crisp'd, break from the trees
And fall.

Here's a lost quotation from her, as well, that is nice, though perhaps more "wintry" than autumnal.

Look up...
From bleakening hills
Blows down the light, first breath
Of wintry wind... look up, and scent
The snow!

Adelaide Crapsey
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Reply Sun 5 Oct, 2003 09:24 am
In such a day, in September or October
0 Replies
Walter Hinteler
Reply Sun 5 Oct, 2003 09:47 am
Autumn Day

Lord, it is time. The summer was so great.
Impose upon the sundials now your shadows
and round the meadows let the winds rotate.

Command the last fruits to incarnadine;
vouchsafe, to urge them on into completeness,
yet two more south-like days; and that last sweetness,
inveigle it into the heavy vine.

He'll not build now, who has no house awaiting.
Who's now alone, for long will so remain:
sit late, read, write long letters, and again
return to restlessly perambulating
the avenues of parks when leaves downrain.

Another translation

Rainer Maria Rilke trans. Elsie Callander

The time has come Lord, since summer's heavy dower.
Lay your long shadow on the late sundials,
And on the meadows give the winds their power.

Command the last ripe fruits to swell and shine,
Let two more days of southern sunshine tarry,
Constrain them to perfection full and harry
The last rich sweetness into heavy wine.

Who has no house will not start building now.
Who is alone, long will he so remain,
Will watch and read, long letters write again
And in the lonely avenues up and down
Will wander restless as leaves drift in vain.

Rainer Maria Rilke [German (1875-1926)]
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Walter Hinteler
Reply Sun 5 Oct, 2003 09:50 am

So now it's Autumn, leaves are falling,
through the woods the pain of parting raves;
and all the nightingales, and Spring
I missed, out on the barren waves.

The heavens looked so mild, bright blue,
but that warm light was no more there;
the ocean waves no longer bloomed,
the boisterous singing winds - nowhere!

And all my youth passed by sad-hearted,
the joy of Spring was never mine;
Autumn blows through me dread of parting,
and my heart dreams and longs to die.

Nikolaus Lenau [German (1802-50), trans. Brian Cole]
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Walter Hinteler
Reply Sun 5 Oct, 2003 09:56 am
Another poem by Rilke

trans. Anthony Vivis

For some time I have watched
things changing.
Something has stirred and is stalking about
killing and bringing pain.

From one moment to the next
not all gardens are the same:
that slow decline
from yellowish to yellow -
how far I have had to come.

Now I have reached emptiness
I peer into every lane.
Almost as far as the far-off seas
all I can see are the heavy leaden
deadening heavens.
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Reply Sun 5 Oct, 2003 10:26 am
The Autumn

Go, sit upon the lofty hill,
And turn your eyes around,
Where waving woods and waters wild
Do hymn an autumn sound.
The summer sun is faint on them --
The summer flowers depart --
Sit still -- as all transform'd to stone,
Except your musing heart.

How there you sat in summer-time,
May yet be in your mind;
And how you heard the green woods sing
Beneath the freshening wind.
Though the same wind now blows around,
You would its blast recall;
For every breath that stirs the trees,
Doth cause a leaf to fall.

Oh! like that wind, is all the mirth
That flesh and dust impart:
We cannot bear its visitings,
When change is on the heart.
Gay words and jests may make us smile,
When Sorrow is asleep;
But other things must make us smile,
When Sorrow bids us weep!

The dearest hands that clasp our hands, --
Their presence may be o'er;
The dearest voice that meets our ear,
That tone may come no more!
Youth fades; and then, the joys of youth,
Which once refresh'd our mind,
Shall come -- as, on those sighing woods,
The chilling autumn wind.

Hear not the wind -- view not the woods;
Look out o'er vale and hill-
In spring, the sky encircled them --
The sky is round them still.
Come autumn's scathe -- come winter's cold --
Come change -- and human fate!
Whatever prospect Heaven doth bound,
Can ne'er be desolate.

-Elizabeth Barret Browning
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Reply Sun 5 Oct, 2003 10:26 am
Thanks, Walter. Interesting how the poems change a little with translation. The thought at the end of the first Rilke poem is so poignant... that no one will start building a house or find love. Nobody seems too pleased with the season's change... where are those happy Oktoberfest folk?

Can you read this without bursting into song?

The falling leaves drift by the window
The autumn leaves of red and gold
I see your lips, the summer kisses
The sunburned hand I used to hold

Since you went away the days grow long
And soon I'll hear old winter's song
But I miss you most of all, my darling
When autumn leaves start to fall

Since you went away the days grow long
And soon I'll hear old winter's song
But I miss you most of all, my darling
When autumn leaves start to fall

Joseph Kosma (m) - Johnny Mercer (w)
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Reply Sun 5 Oct, 2003 11:08 am
Late Autumn In Venice
Delmore Schwartz

(After Rilke)

The city floats no longer like a bait
To hook the nimble darting summer days.
The glazed and brittle palaces pulsate and radiate
And glitter. Summer's garden sways,
A heap of marionettes hanging down and dangled,
Leaves tired, torn, turned upside down and strangled:
Until from forest depths, from bony leafless trees
A will wakens: the admiral, lolling long at ease,
Has been commanded, overnight -- suddenly --:
In the first dawn, all galleys put to sea!
Waking then in autumn chill, amid the harbor medley,
The fragrance of pitch, pennants aloft, the butt
Of oars, all sails unfurled, the fleet
Awaits the great wind, radiant and deadly.
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Reply Sun 5 Oct, 2003 11:15 am
Show me two villages,
one embowered in trees
and blazing with all the
glories of October,
the other a merely trivial and treeless waste,
or with only a single tree or two for suicides, and

I shall be sure that in the latter will be found
the most starved and bigoted religionists
and the most desperate drinkers.

0 Replies
Reply Sun 5 Oct, 2003 11:23 am
Sonnet 73

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 ruin'd choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thou see'st the twilight of such day
As after sunset fadeth in the west,
Which by-and-by black night doth take away,
Death's second self, that seals up all in rest.

In me thou see'st the glowing of such fire
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the death-bed whereon it must expire,
Consum'd with that which it was nourish'd by.

This thou perceiv'st, which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well which thou must leave ere long.

William Shakespeare
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Reply Sun 5 Oct, 2003 12:24 pm
Sonnet 97

How like a winter hath my absence been
From thee, the pleasure of the fleeting year!
What freezings have I felt, what dark days seen!
What old December's bareness everywhere!

And yet this time removed was summer's time,
The teeming autumn, big with rich increase,
Bearing the wanton burden of the prime,
Like widowed wombs after their lords' decease:

Yet this abundant issue seemed to me
But hope of orphans, and unfathered fruit;
For summer and his pleasures wait on thee,
And, thou away, the very birds are mute:

Or, if they sing, 'tis with so dull a cheer
That leaves look pale, dreading the winter's near.

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Reply Mon 6 Oct, 2003 10:12 am
October Song
by Robin Williamson

I'll sing you this October song,
Oh, there is no song before it.
The words and tune are none of my own,
for my joys and sorrows bore it.

Beside the sea
The brambly briars in the still of evening,
Birds fly out behind the sun,
and with them I'll leavng.

The fallen leaves that jewel the ground,
They know the art of dying,
And leave with joy their glad gold hearts,
In the scarlet shadows lying.

When hunger calls my footsteps home,
The morning follows after,
I swim the seas within my mind,
And the pine-trees laugh green laughter.

I sed to search for happiness,
And I used to follow pleasure,
But I found a door behind my mind,
And that's the greatest treasure.

For rulers like to lay down laws,
And rebels like to break them,
And the poor priests like to walk in chains,
And God likes to forsake the.

I met a man whose name was Time,
And he said, "I must be goin,"
But just how long that was,
I have no way of knowing.

Sometimes I want to murder time,
Sometimes when my heart's aching,
But mostly I just stroll along,
The path that he is taking.
0 Replies
Reply Mon 6 Oct, 2003 11:21 am
Oh... nice FBaezer! Cool ending. Is October very colorful in Mexico?

Here's some from Mr. Autumn, himself...

Two Roads Diverged...

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.


O hushed October morning mild,
Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;
Tomorrow's wind, if it be wild,
Should waste them all.
The crows above the forest call;
Tomorrow they may form and go.
O hushed October morning mild,
Begin the hours of this day slow.
Make the day seem to us less brief.
Hearts not averse to being beguiled,
Beguile us in the way you know.
Release one leaf at break of day;
At noon release another leaf;
one from our trees, one far away.
Retard the sun with gentle mist;
Enchant the land with amethyst.
Slow, slow!
For the grapes' sake, if they were all,
Whose leaves already are burnt with frost,
Whose clustered fruit must else be lost--
For the grapes' sake along the wall.

Robert Frost
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Reply Mon 6 Oct, 2003 06:42 pm
The Leaves of Fall

Colors of red and yellow
Brings dancing fellows
And bronze and browns
Brings one to get rake into town
And get those leaves
Falling off the trees
Orange bring beautiful hue
And cool weather too
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Reply Tue 7 Oct, 2003 06:48 am
Nice, Larry. Did you write that? Would you mind adding a citation for posterity. Very Happy

Morning, Catskill Valley.
George Inness. 1894.
(Thank-you, Ossobuco!)

Soft rain falls gently on my weary eyes,
As if to hide a single tear,
My life will be forever autumn,
Because you're not here.
~ Moody Blues
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