John Clare (1793 – 1864)
The Spring is gone, the Summer-beauty wanes,
Like setting sunbeams, in their last decline;
As evening shadows, lingering on the plains,
Gleam dim and dimmer till they cease to shine:
The busy bee hath humm’d himself to rest;
Flowers dry to seed, that held the sweets of Spring;
Flown is the bird, and empty is the nest,
His broods are rear’d, no joys are left to sing.
There hangs a dreariness about the scene,
A present shadow of a bright has been.
Ah, sad to prove that Pleasure’s golden springs,
Like common fountains, should so quickly dry,
And be so near allied to vulgar things!—
The joys of this world are but born to die.
A REFLECTION IN AUTUMN
Now Autumn's come—adieu the pleasing greens
The charming Landscape & the flowrey plain
All are deserted from these motley scenes
With blighted yellow ting'd & russet stain
Tho desolation seems to triumph here
Yet these are spring to what we still shall find
The trees must all in nakedness appear
'Reft of their foliage by the blustry wind
Just so 'twill fare with me in Autumns life
Just so I'd wish—but may the trunk & all
Die with the leaves—nor taste that wintry strife
Where Sorrows urge—& fear Impedes the fall!
Autumn comes laden with her ripened load
Of fruitage and so scatters them abroad
That each fern-smothered heath and mole-hill waste
Are black with bramble berries--where in haste
The chubby urchins from the village hie
To feast them there, stained with the purple dye;
While painted woods around my rambles be
In draperies worthy of eternity.
Yet will the leaves soon patter on the ground,
And death's deaf voice awake at every sound:
One drops--then others--and the last that fell
Rings for those left behind their passing bell.
Thus memory every where her tidings brings
How sad death robs us of life's dearest things.
“I love to see the shaking twig
Dance till the shut of eve' ... autumn leaves by the wind.”
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832)
Flourish greener, as ye clamber,
Oh ye leaves, to seek my chamber,
Up the trellis'd vine on high!
May ye swell, twin-berries tender,
Juicier far,--and with more splendour
Ripen, and more speedily!
O'er ye broods the sun at even
As he sinks to rest, and heaven
Softly breathes into your ear
All its fertilising fullness,
While the moon's refreshing coolness,
Magic-laden, hovers near;
And, alas! ye're watered ever
By a stream of tears that rill
From mine eyes--tears ceasing never,
Tears of love that nought can still!
William Blake (1757-1827)
O Autumn, laden with fruit, and stain'd
With the blood of the grape, pass not, but sit
Beneath my shady roof; there thou may'st rest,
And tune thy jolly voice to my fresh pipe,
And all the daughters of the year shall dance!
Sing now the lusty song of fruits and flowers.
'The narrow bud opens her beauties to
The sun, and love runs in her thrilling veins;
Blossoms hang round the brows of Morning, and
Flourish down the bright cheek of modest Eve,
Till clust'ring Summer breaks forth into singing,
And feather'd clouds strew flowers round her head.
'The spirits of the air live in the smells
Of fruit; and Joy, with pinions light, roves round
The gardens, or sits singing in the trees.'
Thus sang the jolly Autumn as he sat,
Then rose, girded himself, and o'er the bleak
Hills fled from our sight; but left his golden load.
Walter Savage Landor (1775-1864)
MILD is the parting year, and sweet
The odour of the falling spray;
Life passes on more rudely fleet,
And balmless is its closing day.
I wait its close, I court its gloom,
But mourn that never must there fall
Or on my breast or on my tomb
The tear that would have soothed it all.
AUTUMN: A DIRGE
Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)
The warm sun is falling, the bleak wind is wailing,
The bare boughs are sighing, the pale flowers are dying,
And the Year
On the earth is her death-bed, in a shroud of leaves dead,
Come, Months, come away,
From November to May,
In your saddest array;
Follow the bier
Of the dead cold Year,
And like dim shadows watch by her sepulchre.
The chill rain is falling, the nipped worm is crawling,
The rivers are swelling, the thunder is knelling
For the Year;
The blithe swallows are flown, and the lizards each gone
To his dwelling.
Come, Months, come away;
Put on white, black and gray;
Let your light sisters play--
Ye, follow the bier
Of the dead cold Year,
And make her grave green with tear on tear.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861)
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.
William Allingham (1828-1889)
Now Autumn's fire burns slowly along the woods,
And day by day the dead leaves fall and melt,
And night by night the monitory blast
Wails in the key-hold, telling how it pass'd
O'er empty fields, or upland solitudes,
Or grim wide wave; and now the power is felt
Of melancholy, tenderer in its moods
Than any joy indulgent summer dealt.
Dear friends, together in the glimmering eve,
Pensive and glad, with tones that recognise
The soft invisible dew in each one's eyes,
It may be, somewhat thus we shall have leave
To walk with memory,--when distant lies
Poor Earth, where we were wont to live and grieve.
AS SUMMER INTO AUTUMN SLIPS
Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)
As Summer into Autumn slips
And yet we sooner say
"The Summer" than "the Autumn," lest
We turn the sun away,
And almost count it an Affront
The presence to concede
Of one however lovely, not
The one that we have loved --
So we evade the charge of Years
On one attempting shy
The Circumvention of the Shaft
Of Life's Declivity.
THE NAME -- OF IT -- IS "AUTUMN"
The name -- of it -- is "Autumn" --
The hue -- of it -- is Blood --
An Artery -- upon the Hill --
A Vein -- along the Road --
Great Globules -- in the Alleys --
And Oh, the Shower of Stain --
When Winds -- upset the Basin --
And spill the Scarlet Rain --
It sprinkles Bonnets -- far below --
It gathers ruddy Pools --
Then -- eddies like a Rose -- away --
Upon Vermilion Wheels –
Lord: it is time. The summer was immense.
Lay your shadow on the sundials
and let loose the wind in the fields.
Bid the last fruits to be full;
give them another two more southerly days,
press them to ripeness, and chase
the last sweetness into the heavy wine.
Whoever has no house now will not build one
Whoever is alone now will remain so for a long
will stay up, read, write long letters,
and wander the avenues, up and down,
restlessly, while the leaves are blowing.
(Translated by Galway Kinnell and Hannah Liebmann)
Lord, it is time. The summer was too long.
Lay your shadow on the sundials now,
and through the meadow let the winds throng.
Ask the last fruits to ripen on the vine;
give them further two more summer days
to bring about perfection and to raise
the final sweetness in the heavy wine.
Whoever has no house now will establish none,
whoever lives alone now will live on long alone,
will waken, read, and write long letters,
wander up and down the barren paths
the parks expose when the leaves are blown.
Carl Sandburg (1878-1967)
I cried over beautiful things knowing no beautiful thing lasts.
The field of cornflower yellow is a scarf at the neck of the copper sunburned woman, the mother of the year, the taker of seeds.
The northwest wind comes and the yellow is torn full of holes, new beautiful things come in the first spit of snow on the northwest wind, and the old things go, not one lasts.
Wallace Stevens (1879-1955)
The skreak and skritter of evening gone
And grackles gone and sorrows of the sun,
The sorrows of sun, too, gone . . . the moon and moon,
The yellow moon of words about the nightingale
In measureless measures, not a bird for me
But the name of a bird and the name of a nameless air
I have never–shall never hear. And yet beneath
The stillness of everything gone, and being still,
Being and sitting still, something resides,
Some skreaking and skrittering residuum,
And grates these evasions of the nightingale
Though I have never–shall never hear that bird.
And the stillness is in the key, all of it is,
The stillness is all in the key of that desolate sound.
DOLOR OF AUTUMN
D. H. Lawrence (1885-1930)
The acrid scents of autumn,
Reminiscent of slinking beasts, make me fear
Everything, tear-trembling stars of autumn
And the snore of the night in my ear.
For suddenly, flush-fallen,
All my life, in a rush
Of shedding away, has left me
Naked, exposed on the bush.
I, on the bush of the globe,
Like a newly-naked berry, shrink
Disclosed: but I also am prowling
As well in the scents that slink
Abroad: I in this naked berry
Of flesh that stands dismayed on the bush;
And I in the stealthy, brindled odours
Prowling about the lush
And acrid night of autumn;
My soul, along with the rout,
Rank and treacherous, prowling,
For the night, with a great breath intaken,
Has taken my spirit outside
Me, till I reel with disseminated consciousness,
Like a man who has died.
At the same time I stand exposed
Here on the bush of the globe,
A newly-naked berry of flesh
For the stars to probe.
Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882)
Know’st thou not at the fall of the leaf
How the heart feels a languid grief
Laid on it for a covering,
And how sleep seems a goodly thing
In Autumn at the fall of the leaf?
And how the swift beat of the brain
Falters because it is in vain,
In Autumn at the fall of the leaf
Knowest thou not? and how the chief
Of joys seems—not to suffer pain?
Know’st thou not at the fall of the leaf
How the soul feels like a dried sheaf
Bound up at length for harvesting,
And how death seems a comely thing
In Autumn at the fall of the leaf?
THE FALLING LEAVES
William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)
Autumn is over the long leaves that love us,
And over the mice in the barley sheaves;
Yellow the leaves of the rowan above us,
And yellow the wet wild-strawberry leaves.
The hour of the waning of love has beset us,
And weary and worn are our sad souls now;
Let us part, ere the season of passion forget us,
With a kiss and a tear in thy drooping brow.
Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926)
The leaves are falling, falling as if from far up,
as if orchards were dying high in space.
Each leaf falls as if it were motioning "no."
And tonight the heavy earth is falling
away from all other stars in the loneliness.
We're all falling. This hand here is falling.
And look at the other one. It's in them all.
And yet there is Someone, whose hands
infinitely calm, holding up all this falling.
‘Sometimes It Turns Dry And The Leaves Fall Before They Are Beautiful’
William Carlos Williams
This crystal sphere
upon whose edge I drive
turns brilliantly —
the level river shines!
My Love! My love!
how sadly to we thrive:
sumac or a tree whose
perfect as they are
look no farther than —
into the grass.
Tis the last rose of summer,
Left blooming alone;
All her lovely companions
Are faded and gone.
~Thomas Moore, The Last Rose of Summer
How beautifully leaves grow old. How full of light and color are their last days.
There is a harmony in autumn, and a luster in its sky, which through the summer is not heard or seen, as if it could not be, as if it had not been!
~Percy Bysshe Shelley
Just before the death of flowers,
And before they are buried in snow,
There comes a festival season
When nature is all aglow.