Autumn Poetry




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.





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.





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,

Is lying.

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.






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.




Emily Dickinson


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 –






(Four Translations)


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.






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,

Disseminated out.


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?






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:

thistle-caps and

sumac or a tree whose


sharpened leaves

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. 

~John Burroughs


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.

~Author Unknown