Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Fall poem

Why so spendthrift with your beauty, leaves?
Why are you so lovely in your dying?
You fling your gold on the wind like coins;
The reddest leaves lie soonest in the gutter.

The stars might ask us in their turn:
Why do you bother, sons of men?
Why are you so lovely in your dying?
Your life slips by like a leaf's fall.
The first thrill of a first love
The sweet smell of a newborn's head--
Why try to gather up these things?
Even your memories are soon leafmold.

Why waste love on a grandfather, soon to die,
Or on any son of man, so short your season.
Kingdoms rise and fall and are forgotten,
A century gone, and no one knows you ever were.

The leaves whisper their answer on the wind:
We were green for months, and you never spared a glance.
You call those colors fairest that are glowing for the least time.
Red against gold, clear yellow in an russet wood,
It is the change that sends the shiver to your bones.

Now is beauty's eternity:
Don't turn away from a falling star.
Some things are broad in time, others deep.
It matters to be lovely in your dying.


Belfry Bat said...


I just got back from an autumn romp through the local meadow. It's overgrown with pampas grass --- used to be bullrushes, I think, but these days one must go hunting for a good bullrush; and the pampas grass hides all sorts of small trees and wildgrape and virginia creeper. I was worried for a moment that one of the red crawly things might have been poison ivy, but either I'm insensitive or it really was something else...

And it really is starting to look autumnal; more on the ground than about treetops, but change is coming...

Anyways. This is deep. It's like Richard from The Lion in Winter and Hopkins writing for Margaret and... plenty more.

Sheila said...

I've been driving around a lot in the back roads lately, and it's just lovely. The hickories have finally turned, and they're my favorite. The tops of the maples are red too. In past years I've seen it reach this point but didn't bother to go out and enjoy it because "I'm sure it hasn't reached its peak yet" -- and then we get a big wind and rain and all the leaves are gone before I get a chance to go out and see. So this time I am resolved to waste nothing!

But I was thinking, "Why do I bother? It's not like I will remember these particular leaves, and the pictures I take are just not the same." But then I concluded ... beauty is always worth the trouble. That's what beauty is all about, being valuable in itself.

Funny that your autumn seems to be behind ours! Perhaps it's because we're at a higher elevation despite the lower latitude.

Belfry Bat said...

That might well be part of it! Another might be that your trees are happier than ours ... you're not wrong, calling them "spendthrift", as the bright colours do cost calories. They think it has something to do with distracting the insects... On the other hand, looking at a different part of town today, there are some trees very much getting on with it.

The Sojourner said...

This reminds me of the conversation we were having the other day about River Song/Eleven as a metaphor for all human loves.

I like it.

Sheila said...

You see your ideas have been percolating in my mind, Sojourner!

BB, the nicest colors I've ever seen were in New England. But that has to do with the type of trees that grow there, which are a lot of red maples. Around here we have some maples, but a lot of the forest is more boring in the fall -- black walnuts, which just go spottily yellow; sycamores, which go brown; and tons and tons of ailanthus, which I've never been able to catch doing anything interesting. But in some ways that makes it more exciting, because the boring trees provide a nice backdrop for the few exciting ones: hickories, maples, Virginia creeper, and yes, poison ivy.

Enbrethiliel said...


I like it! The ending is so beautiful. Would you consider submitting it to Dappled Things?

Sheila said...

Oh, I don't think it's anywhere near their standard. I'm glad you like it though!

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