7 Classic Poems of Autumn

Fall leaves

1. “After Apple-Picking” by Robert Frost

My long two-pointed ladder’s sticking through a tree
Toward heaven still,
And there’s a barrel that I didn’t fill
Beside it, and there may be two or three
Apples I didn’t pick upon some bough.
But I am done with apple-picking now.
Essence of winter sleep is on the night,
The scent of apples: I am drowsing off.
I cannot rub the strangeness from my sight
I got from looking through a pane of glass
I skimmed this morning from the drinking trough
And held against the world of hoary grass.
It melted, and I let it fall and break.
But I was well
Upon my way to sleep before it fell,
And I could tell
What form my dreaming was about to take.
Magnified apples appear and disappear,
Stem end and blossom end,
And every fleck of russet showing clear.
My instep arch not only keeps the ache,
It keeps the pressure of a ladder-round.
I feel the ladder sway as the boughs bend.
And I keep hearing from the cellar bin
The rumbling sound
Of load on load of apples coming in.
For I have had too much
Of apple-picking: I am overtired
Of the great harvest I myself desired.
There were ten thousand thousand fruit to touch,
Cherish in hand, lift down, and not let fall.
For all
That struck the earth,
No matter if not bruised or spiked with stubble,
Went surely to the cider-apple heap
As of no worth.
One can see what will trouble
This sleep of mine, whatever sleep it is.
Were he not gone,
The woodchuck could say whether it’s like his
Long sleep, as I describe its coming on,
Or just some human sleep.

 

2. “That time of year thou mayst in me behold (Sonnet 73)” by William Shakespeare

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 ruined 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 deathbed whereon it must expire,
Consumed with that which it was nourished by.
  This thou perceiv’st, which makes thy love more strong,
  To love that well which thou must leave ere long.

 

3. “To Autumn” by John Keats

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
   Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
   With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
   And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
      To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
   With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
      For summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
   Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
   Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep,
   Drowsed with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
      Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
   Steady thy laden head across a brook;
   Or by a cider-press, with patient look,
      Thou watchest the last oozings, hours by hours.

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
   Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,–
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
   And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
   Among the river sallows, borne aloft
      Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
   Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
   The redbreast whistles from a garden-croft,
      And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

 

4. “Merry Autumn” by Paul Laurence Dunbar

It’s all a farce,—these tales they tell 
    About the breezes sighing, 
And moans astir o’er field and dell, 
    Because the year is dying.

Such principles are most absurd,— 
    I care not who first taught ’em; 
There’s nothing known to beast or bird 
    To make a solemn autumn.

In solemn times, when grief holds sway 
    With countenance distressing, 
You’ll note the more of black and gray 
    Will then be used in dressing.

Now purple tints are all around; 
    The sky is blue and mellow; 
And e’en the grasses turn the ground 
    From modest green to yellow.

The seed burs all with laughter crack 
    On featherweed and jimson; 
And leaves that should be dressed in black 
    Are all decked out in crimson.

A butterfly goes winging by; 
    A singing bird comes after; 
And Nature, all from earth to sky, 
    Is bubbling o’er with laughter.

The ripples wimple on the rills, 
    Like sparkling little lasses; 
The sunlight runs along the hills, 
    And laughs among the grasses.

The earth is just so full of fun 
    It really can’t contain it; 
And streams of mirth so freely run 
    The heavens seem to rain it.

Don’t talk to me of solemn days 
    In autumn’s time of splendor, 
Because the sun shows fewer rays, 
    And these grow slant and slender.

Why, it’s the climax of the year,— 
    The highest time of living!— 
Till naturally its bursting cheer 
    Just melts into thanksgiving.

 

5. “Among the Rocks” by Robert Browning

Oh, good gigantic smile o’ the brown old earth,
      This autumn morning! How he sets his bones
To bask i’ the sun, and thrusts out knees and feet
For the ripple to run over in its mirth;
      Listening the while, where on the heap of stones
The white breast of the sea-lark twitters sweet.

That is the doctrine, simple, ancient, true;
      Such is life’s trial, as old earth smiles and knows.
If you loved only what were worth your love,
Love were clear gain, and wholly well for you:
      Make the low nature better by your throes!
Give earth yourself, go up for gain above!

 

6. “Autumn” by T.E. Hulme

A touch of cold in the Autumn night—
I walked abroad,
And saw the ruddy moon lean over a hedge
Like a red-faced farmer.
I did not stop to speak, but nodded,
And round about were the wistful stars
With white faces like town children.

 

7. “Spring and Fall” by Gerard Manley Hopkins

      to a young child

MÁRGARÉT, áre you gríeving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leáves, like the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Áh! ás the heart grows older
It will come to such sights colder
By and by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
And yet you wíll weep and know why.
Now no matter, child, the name:
Sórrow’s spríngs áre the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What heart heard of, ghost guessed:
It is the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.

 

Photo by Michael Gil

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  • Tim

    早秋
    遥夜泛清瑟,西风生翠萝。残萤委玉露,早雁拂银河。
    高树晓还密,远山晴更多。淮南一叶下,自觉老烟波。
    一叶下前墀,淮南人已悲。蹉跎青汉望,迢递白云期。
    老信相如渴,贫忧曼倩饥。生公与园吏,何处是吾师。
    蓟北雁犹远,淮南人已悲。残桃间堕井,新菊亦侵篱。
    书剑岂相误,琴尊聊自持。西斋风雨夜,更有咏贫诗。