The Poets Say It Best

 On these suddenly truncated days when we strive to convince ourselves winter is not rounding the near corner, I’m comforted by poetry that honors this season of transition and all the metaphors it offers.  Here are some of my favorites, set to photographs (which is not to imply the words of these marvelous poets are insufficient).

A Song for Autumn

By Mary Oliver

Don’t you imagine the leaves dream now
how comfortable it will be to touch
the earth instead of the
nothingness of the air and the endless
freshets of wind? And don’t you think
the trees, especially those with
mossy hollows, are beginning to look for

the birds that will come—six, a dozen—to sleep
inside their bodies? And don’t you hear
the goldenrod whispering goodbye,
the everlasting being crowned with the first
tuffets of snow? The pond
stiffens and the white field over which
the fox runs so quickly brings out
its long blue shadows. The wind wags
its many tails. And in the evening
the piled firewood shifts a little,
longing to be on its way.

September Midnight

By Sara Teasdale

Lyric night of the lingering Indian summer,
Shadowy fields that are scentless but full of singing,
Never a bird, but the passionless chant of insects,
Ceaseless, insistent.
The grasshopper’s horn, and far-off, high in the maples,
The wheel of a locust leisurely grinding the silence
Under a moon waning and worn, broken,
Tired with summer.
Let me remember you, voices of little insects,
Weeds in the moonlight, fields that are tangled with asters,
Let me remember, soon will the winter be on us,
Snow-hushed and heavy.
Over my soul murmur your mute benediction,
While I gaze, O fields that rest after harvest,
As those who part look long in the eyes they lean to,
Lest they forget them.

Autumn Leaves

By Marilyn Chin

The dead piled up, thick, fragrant, on the fire escape.
My mother ordered me again, and again, to sweep it clean.
All that blooms must fall. I learned this not from the Dao,
but from high school biology.

Oh, the contradictions of having a broom and not a dustpan!
I swept the leaves down, down through the iron grille
and let the dead rain over the Wong family’s patio.

And it was Achilles Wong who completed the task.
We called her:
The one-who-cleared-away-another-family’s-autumn.
She blossomed, tall, benevolent, notwithstanding.

Late October

By Maya Angelou

Only lovers
see the fall
a signal end to endings
a gruffish gesture alerting
those who will not be alarmed
that we begin to stop
in order to begin


Brenda Buchanan brings years of experience as a journalist and a lawyer to her crime fiction. She has published three books featuring Joe Gale, a newspaper reporter who covers the crime and courts beat. She is now hard at work on new projects. FMI, go to


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4 Responses to The Poets Say It Best

  1. jselbo says:

    Thanks for these. As I watch the leaves fall. Thanks.

  2. John Clark says:

    Neato for certain.

  3. Julianne Spreng says:

    I don’t usually dive into poetry, but these are perfect. “the passionless chant of insects” never thought of it that way. Beautiful language for a beautiful time of year.

    • Brenda Buchanan says:

      Yes, that is a lovely line, as is Mary Oliver’s “the goldenrod whispering goodbye,
      the everlasting being crowned with the first
      tuffets of snow”

      Fall is such an emotional season, I think.

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