6 Poems to Savour Autumn

Poetry can feel like a safe that you don’t have the key to. Its teasingly clear words appear to shroud a subjective, infinitely deep and complex meaning behind them. I like to think of poetry as a page with an imagination that extends behind every word like root hairs out of epidermal cells, expressing a relatable feeling that the language of logic is incapable of. Beautifully, the short length of most poetry allows readers to rip apart, question, and reassemble it with visual ease and satisfaction. I believe that poetry heals a preoccupied mind. British entrepreneur and poet William Siegart is the author of The Poetry Pharmacy, a collection of poems with the goal to ease suffering, loneliness, and heartbreak, themes especially relevant in a global pandemic. With a similar purpose, as an avid lover of and believer in poetry, here is a list of six poems to take a break from the whirlwind of life, reflect on what is troubling us, and grow more self-aware. 

 

  1. 1. “Gathering Leaves” by Robert Frost

    fall leaves on the ground

    "Gathering Leaves" is about feeling meaningless in a world of repetition and the curiousness of the world’s infinite nature. The speaker gathers a non-crop to make life worth living, giving the reader hope in the sometimes overwhelming uncertainty of our existence which may preoccupy us.

    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?

  2. 2. “November Night” by Adelaide Crapsey

    lit candles burning

    In “November Night,” Adelaide Crapsey gives the reader a taste of the unsettling comfort we may feel during this season in a short cinquain that, like poetry itself, gives sound the power to tease our imaginations.

    Listen. .

    With faint dry sound,

    Like steps of passing ghosts,

    The leaves, frost-crisp'd, break from the trees

    And fall.

  3. 3. “A Reminiscence” by Richard O. Moore

    Tree with leaves turning brown

    “A Reminiscence” by Richard O. Moore encapsulates nostalgia, love, and the ephemeral nature of life. As the speaker recalls a memory inside the house of nature, he makes peace with the idea that the past is past. 

    Held in a late season

    At a shifting of worlds,

    In the golden balance of autumn,

    Out of love and reason

     

    We made our peace;

    Stood still in October

    In the failing light and sought,

    Each in the other, ease

     

    And release from silence,

    From the slow damnation

    Of speech that is weak

    And falls from silence.

     

    In the October sun

    By the green river we spoke,

    Late in October, the leaves

    Of the water maples had fallen.

     

    But whatever we said

    In the bright leaves was lost,

    Quick as the leaf-fall,

    Brittle and blood red.

  4. 4. “L’automne” by Alphonse Lamartine

    walkway through the woods in the fall

    For francophones, “L’automne” by Romantic poet Alphonse Lamartine explores the inevitability of death within a continuous, sublime natural world. As the speaker pronounces his goodbyes to the outdoors in the aftermath of his lover’s passing, he in panic realizes his regrets — what he has not done yet. However, there is a beauty in this realization: the autumn scenery and the act of poetry itself have made his thoughts clear and his mind aware of its own limited consciousness. 

    Salut ! bois couronnés d’un reste de verdure !

    Feuillages jaunissants sur les gazons épars !

    Salut, derniers beaux jours ! Le deuil de la nature

    Convient à la douleur et plaît à mes regards !

    Je suis d’un pas rêveur le sentier solitaire,

    J’aime à revoir encor, pour la dernière fois,

    Ce soleil pâlissant, dont la faible lumière

    Perce à peine à mes pieds l’obscurité des bois !

    Oui, dans ces jours d’automne où la nature expire,

    A ses regards voilés, je trouve plus d’attraits,

    C’est l’adieu d’un ami, c’est le dernier sourire

    Des lèvres que la mort va fermer pour jamais !

    Ainsi, prêt à quitter l’horizon de la vie,

    Pleurant de mes longs jours l’espoir évanoui,

    Je me retourne encore, et d’un regard d’envie

    Je contemple ses biens dont je n’ai pas joui !

    Terre, soleil, vallons, belle et douce nature,

    Je vous dois une larme aux bords de mon tombeau ;

    L’air est si parfumé ! la lumière est si pure !

    Aux regards d’un mourant le soleil est si beau !

    Je voudrais maintenant vider jusqu’à la lie

    Ce calice mêlé de nectar et de fiel !

    Au fond de cette coupe où je buvais la vie,

    Peut-être restait-il une goutte de miel ?

    Peut-être l’avenir me gardait-il encore

    Un retour de bonheur dont l’espoir est perdu ?

    Peut-être dans la foule, une âme que j’ignore

    Aurait compris mon âme, et m’aurait répondu ? …

    La fleur tombe en livrant ses parfums au zéphire ;

    A la vie, au soleil, ce sont là ses adieux ;

    Moi, je meurs; et mon âme, au moment qu’elle expire,                   

    S’exhale comme un son triste et mélodieux.

  5. 5. “November for Beginners” by Rita Dove

    fall leaves on table

    In “November for Beginners,” Rita Dove challenges nature and death in a simultaneously empowering and stagnant poem about people and the point of our existence. She communicates a human energy that is capable of strength beyond pain and fear.

    Snow would be the easy

    way out—that softening

    sky like a sigh of relief

    at finally being allowed

    to yield. No dice.

    We stack twigs for burning

    in glistening patches

    but the rain won’t give.

     

    So we wait, breeding

    mood, making music

    of decline. We sit down

     

    in the smell of the past

    and rise in a light

    that is already leaving.

    We ache in secret,

    memorizing

     

    a gloomy line

    or two of German.

    When spring comes

    we promise to act

    the fool. Pour,

    rain! Sail, wind,

    with your cargo of zithers!

  6. 6. “Sonnet 73: That time of year that mayst in me behold” by William Shakespeare

    woman walking on a pathway with fall leaves

    In Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 73: That time of year that mayst in me behold,” the speaker playfully and darkly uses autumn imagery to describe how his lover perceives him. However, the speaker expresses that the hopeful idea that true love persists despite the inevitability of death makes life worth living. (Finally, something positive!)

    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.

Realize that all these poems share common themes of nostalgia, death, and reflection. It is strange to think that one season touches us all so deeply, and nature subtly imitates our emotions and fears. One could therefore say that our minds need the fall so we can cope with being limited beings in a world which knows no bounds.