Peruse this selection of evocative autumnal poems. Enjoy in front of the fireplace, the smell of dying leaves in the air, or save for Halloween, to read between trick-or-treaters. Savor that feeling of soft nostalgia and hopeful hibernation.
There is a Solemn Wind To-Night
There is a solemn wind to-night
That sings of solemn rain;
The trees that have been quiet so long
Flutter and start again.
The slender trees, the heavy trees,
The fruit trees laden and proud,
Lift up their branches to the wind
That cries to them so loud.
The little bushes and the plants
Bow to the solemn sound,
And every tiniest blade of grass
Shakes on the quiet ground.
In Autumn (Verses 1-5)
The leaves are many under my feet,
And drift one way.
Their scent of death is weary and sweet.
A Flight of them is in the grey
Where sky and forest meet.
The low winds moan for sad sweet years;
The birds sing all for pain,
Of a common thing, to weary ears, —
Only a summer’s fate of rain,
And a woman’s fate of tears.
I walk to love and life alone
Over these mournful places,
Across the summer overthrown,
The dead joys of these silent faces,
To claim my own.
I know his heart has beat to bright
Sweet loves gone by;
I know the leaves that die to-night
Once budded to the sky;
And I shall die from his delight.
O leaves, so quietly ending now,
You heart the cuckoos sing.
And I will grow upon my bough
If only for a Spring,
And fall when the rain is on my brow.
Astrophil and Stella (Verse 31)
With how sad steps, O moon, thou climb’st the skies;
How silently, and with how wan a face.
What, may it be that even in heav’nly place
That busy archer his sharp arrows tries?
Sure, if that long-with-love-acquainted eyes
Can judge of love, thou feel’st a lover’s case;
I read it in thy look; thy languish’d grace
To me, that feel the like, thy state descries.
Then, even of fellowship, O moon, tell me,
Is constant love deemed there but want of wit?
Are beauties there as proud as here they be?
Do they above love to be loved, and yet
Those lovers scorn whom that love doth possess?
Do they call virtue there ungratefulness?
Sir Philip Sidney
See how upon bare twigs they lie,
Raindrops, lately of the sky–
Balls of crystal, rounder far
Than any earthen berries are.
Phantom fruits begot of air
Fashioned for no human fare.
The Western Sun Withdraws
The western sun withdraws the shorten’d day;
And humid Evening, gliding o’er the sky,
In her chill progress, to the ground condensed
The vapours throws. Where creeping waters ooze,
Where marshes stagnate, and where rivers wind,
Cluster the rolling gofs, and swim along
The dusky-mantled lawn. Meanwhile the moon
Full-orb’d, and breaking through the scatter’d clouds,
Shows her broad visage in the crimson’d east.
Turn’d to the sun direct, her spotted disk,
Where mountains rise, umbrageous dales descend,
And caverns deep, as optic tub descries,
A smaller earth, gives us his blaze again,
Void of its flame, and sheds a softer day.
Now through the passing cloud she seems to stoop,
Now up the pure cerulean rides sublime.
Wide the pale deluge floats, and streaming mild
O’er the sky’d mountain to the shadowy vale,
While rocks and floods reflect the quivering gleam,
The whole air whitens with a boundless tide
Of silver radiance, trembling round the world.
The wild duck startles like a sudden thought
And heron slow as if it might be caught
The flopping crows on weary wings go bye
And grey beard jackdaws noising as they flye
The crowds of starnels wiz and hurry bye
And darken like a cloud the evening sky
The larks like thunder rise and suthy round
Then drop and nestle in the stubble ground
The wild swan hurries high and noises loud
With white neck peering to the evening cloud
The weary rooks to distant woods are gone
With length of tail the magpie winnows on
To neighbouring tree, and leaves the distant crow
While small birds nestle in the edge below
Give me October’s meditative haze,
Its gossamer mornings, dewy-wimpled eves,
Dewy and fragrant, fragrant and secure,
The long slow sound of farmward-wending wains,
When homely Love sups quiet ‘mid his sheaves,
Sups ‘mid his sheaves, his sickle at his side,
And all is peace, peace and plump fruitfulness.
The Wild Swans at Coole
The trees are in their autumn beauty,
The woodland paths are dry,
Under the October twilight the water
Mirrors a still sky;
Upon the brimming water among the stones
Are nine-and-fifty swans.
The nineteenth autumn has come upon me
Since I first made my count;
I saw, before I had well finished,
All suddenly mount
And scatter wheeling in great broken rings
Upon their clamorous wings.
I have looked upon those brilliant creatures,
And now my heart is sore.
All’s changed since I, hearing at twilight,
The first time on this shore,
The bell-beat of their wings above my head,
Trod with a lighter tread.
Unwearied still, lover by lover,
They paddle in the cold
Companionable streams or climb the air;
Their hearts have not grown old;
Passion or conquest, wander where they will,
Attend upon them still.
But now they drift on the still water,
Among what rushes will they build,
By what lake’s edge or pool
Delight men’s eyes when I awake some day
To find they have flown away?
W. B. Yeats
In the other gardens
And all up the vale,
From the autumn bonfires
See the smoke trail!
Pleasant summer over
And all the summer flowers
The red fire blazes,
The grey smoke towers.
Sing a song of seasons!
Something bright in all!
Flowers in the summer,
Fires in the fall!
Robert Louis Stevenson
Fall Leaves Fall
Fall leaves fall die flowers away
Lengthen night and shorten day
Every leaf speaks bliss to me
Fluttering from the autumn tree
I shall smile when wreaths of snow
Blossom where the rose should grow
I shall sing when night’s decay
Ushers in a drearier day.
The Wind begun to rock the Grass
With threatening Tunes and low —
He flung a Menace at the Earth —
A Menace at the Sky.
The Leaves unhooked themselves from Trees —
And started all abroad
The Dust did scoop itself like Hands
And throw away the Road.
The Wagons quickened on the Streets
The Thunder hurried slow —
The Lightning showed a yellow Beak
And then a livid Claw.
The Birds put up the Bars to Nests —
The Cattle fled to Barns —
There came one drop of Giant Rain,
And then, as if the Hands
That held the Dams had parted hold
The Waters Wrecked the Sky,
But overlooked my Father’s House —
Just quartering a Tree —
The Last Week in October
The trees are undressing, and fling in many places —
On the gray road, the roof, the window-sill —
Their radiant robes and ribbons and yellow laces;
A leaf each second so is flung at will,
Here, there, another and another, still and still.
A spider’s web has caught one while downcoming,
That stays there dangling when the rest pass on;
Like a suspended criminal hangs he, mumming
In golden garb, while one yet green, high yon,
Trembles, as fearing such a fate for himself anon.