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Changeful Autumn / Fall in Classical Poetry

26 Sep

Autumn / Fall is the time of the year that covers all with a range of emotions: joyful sun's rays, storms of disillusionment, or melancholic rain. By definition the Fall means change: warm and sunny, or formidable and harsh. One minute it is bright and colorful, and the next there is only gray.

These changes play upon the strings of the human soul. We feel the mutable mood of nature. But how deep are the feelings of a poet's sensitive soul? How does Autumn affect a poet's creative mind?

Today we offer you selections of autumn poems from the Leopold Classic Library collection. We trust you will enjoy the beautiful rhymes of this special season.

The winds that dash these August dahlias down,

And chase the streams of light across the grass,

This solemn watery air, like clouded glass,

This perfume on the terrace bare and brown,

Are like the soundless flush of full renown

That gathers with the gathering years that pass,

And weaves for happy, glorious life, alas!

Of sorrow and of solitude a crown.

Excerpt from “Melancholy in the Garden", in The Autumn Garden (1908) by Edmund Gosse:


The skies are leaden gray, the wild geese call

Their watchword as they fly to sunnier shores;

Within the wood the ripe nuts clattering fall,

And chattering squirrels gather winter stores.

The sere leaves have a sad and mournful sound

As, shaken by the dreary Autumn wind,

In scattering droves they rustle to the ground

Interment 'neath the winter snows to find.

The setting sun no golden glory throws

Athwart the west; no gleam of vivid red,

Ribbons of shining copper or pale rose,

But sullen sinks into a cheerless bed.

The dusk falls early, and the slim, young moon

Shines fitfully from out a misty sky;

The chill wind rising whines an eerie tune,

The dark wood echoes to the owlet's cry.

From A Handful of Autumn Leaves:

The autumn winds may rave and shout,

Till hoarse their voices be,

The frost may chill the world without,

And reign o'er wood and lea;

But naught of change can seasons bring

To Love's immortal sphere,

For in the hearts where Love is king

“'Tis summer all the year!"

Excerpt from “'Tis summer all the year!" An Autumn Idyl, in Autumn Leaves (1902) by Mary A. Maitland:

Hazely Heath

'Tis “chill October," yet the linnet sings,—

Still are our brows with balmy breezes fanned; —

No winter makes a desert of this land

Of my adoption, where each season brings

To charm the sense, — new guerdon of good things,

And Autumn only spreads with tender hand

A richer mantle o'er the billowy sand,

Golden and purple, — braver than a King's.

Here all is light and songs, with odorous breath

Of briar and pine, — whilst ever, early and late,

The yellow gorse, — like "kissing-time," or death,

Abides with us. It were a worthier fate

To crawl, — (methinks,) — a worm, — on Hazely Heath,

Than strut, — a peacock,— at a Palace gate!

From Autumn Songs" by Violet Fane:

Autumn Leaves

The autumn leaves are like our lives,

They serve their purpose for a day,

They then return to mother Earth:

They come but to decay.

The trees are gaunt, gaunt sentinels,

Deprived of their warm dress.

They shiver in their nakedness,

And moan in their distress.

But, as with us, they live again,

Again have garments fresh and new,

And though they seem to die to earth,

Again their leaves renew.

Again the joy of living comes,

And brighter now is their new life;

They had a season of sweet sleep,

And rest from worldly strife.

From Autumn Leaves by Ardelia M. Barton:

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