Archives for category: autumn

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Patrick T. Reardon discusses his poetry collection, Requiem for David (Silver Birch Press, February 2017) and other writing in a Chicago Sun-Times feature published on July 20, 2017. Find the insightful article here.

Listen to a related podcast at this link.

Photo by Rich Hein, Chicago Sun-Times

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OVER THE RIVER AND THROUGH THE WOOD (Excerpts)
by Lydia Maria Child (1844) 

Over the river, and through the wood,
   to Grandfather’s house we go;
      the horse knows the way
      to carry the sleigh
   through the white and drifted snow.
 
Over the river, and through the wood,
   to Grandfather’s house away!
      We would not stop
      for doll or top,
   for ’tis Thanksgiving Day.
 
Over the river, and through the wood,
   to have a first-rate play.
      Hear the bells ring,
      “Ting a ling ding!”
   Hurray for Thanskgiving Day!
 
Over the river, and through the wood,
   trot fast my dapple gray!
      Spring over the ground
      like a hunting-hound!
   For ’tis Thanksgiving Day.
 
Over the river, and through the wood—
   when Grandmother sees us come,
      she will say, “O, dear,
      the children are here,
   bring pie for everyone.”
 
Over the river, and through the wood—
   now Grandmother’s cap I spy!
      Hurrah for the fun!
      Is the pudding done?
   Hurrah for the pumpkin pie!

Note: A longer version of the poem with beautiful illustrations by Christopher Manson is available at Amazon.com.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lydia Maria Francis Child (1802–1880) was an American abolitionist, women’s rights activist, Indian rights activist, novelist, and journalist. Her journals, fiction and domestic manuals reached wide audiences from the 1820s through the 1850s. Child was later most remembered for her poem “Over the River and Through the Wood” about Thanksgiving. Her grandfather’s house, restored by Tufts University in 1976, still stands near the Mystic River on South Street in Medford, Massachusetts. (Read more at wikipedia.org.)

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THE WAY THE LEAVES KEEP FALLING
by Linda Pastan

It is November
and morning — time to get to work.
I feel the little whip
of my conscience flick
as I stand at the window watching
the great harvest of leaves.
Across the street my neighbor,
his leaf blower already roaring,
tries to make order
from the chaos of fading color.
He seems brave and a bit foolish.
It is almost tidal, the way
the leaves keep falling
wave after wave to earth.

In Eden there were
no seasons, and sometimes
I think it was the tidiness
of that garden
Eve hated, all the wooden tags
with the new names of plants and trees.
Still, I am Adam’s child too
and I like order, though
the margins of my poems
are ragged, and I stand here
all morning watching the leaves.

Credit: “The Way the Leaves Keep Falling” appears in Linda Pastan‘s collection Carnival Evening: New and Selected Poems 1968-1998 (W.W. Norton & Co., 1999). Find the book at Amazon.com.

Photo: “Falling red maple leaves, Boone County, Missouri” From the postcard book: Sierra Club Nature in Close-Up. ©Gay Bumgarner,1988, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Contact the photographer at her website gaybumgarner.comFind the 160-page book at Amazon here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Linda Pastan has published at least 12 books of poetry and a number of essays. Her awards include the Dylan Thomas Award, a Pushcart Prize, the Alice Fay di Castagnola Award (Poetry Society of America), the Bess Hokin Prize (Poetry Magazine), the 1986 Maurice English Poetry Award (for A Fraction of Darkness), the Charity Randall Citation of the International Poetry Forum, and the 2003 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize. Two of her collections of poems were nominated for the National Book Award and one for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. From 1991–1995 she was Poet Laureate of Maryland. (Read more at wikipedia.org.)

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LEONIDS OVER US
by Marge Piercy

The sky is streaked with them

burning holes in black space –

like fireworks, someone says

all friendly in the dark chill

of Newcomb Hollow in November,

friends known only by voices.


 
We lie on the cold sand and it

embraces us, this beach

where locals never go in summer

and boast of their absence. Now

we lie eyes open to the flowers

of white ice that blaze over us


 
and seem to imprint directly

on our brains. I feel the earth,

rolling beneath as we face out

into the endlessness we usually

ignore. Past the evanescent

meteors, infinity pulls hard.

NOTE: The Leonids is a prolific meteor shower associated with the comet Tempel-Tuttle. The Leonids get their name from the location of their radiant in the constellation Leo: the meteors appear to radiate from that point in the sky. (Read more at wikipedia.org.)

Photo: Leonids meteor shower, 2009

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Poet, novelist, and essayist Marge Piercy was born in Detroit, Michigan, in 1936. She won a scholarship to the University of Michigan and later earned a master’s degree from Northwestern University. She has published fifteen books of poetry, including Colors Passing Through Us (Alfred A. Knopf, 2003), The Art of Blessing the Day: Poems with a Jewish Theme (1999), Early Grrrl: The Early Poems of Marge Piercy (1999), What Are Big Girls Made Of? (1997), Mars and Her Children (1992), Available Light (1988), Circles on the Water: Selected Poems of Marge Piercy (1982), and The Moon Is Always Female (1980). She is also the author of a collection of essays on poetry, Parti-Colored Blocks for a Quilt (1982). The most recent of Piercy’s fifteen novels are Three Women (1999), Storm Tide (with Ira Wood, 1998), City of Darkness, City of Light (1996), The Longings of Women (1994), and He, She and It (1991). Piercy lives with her husband, writer Ira Wood, in Wellfleet, Massachusetts. Visit her online at margepiercy.com. (Source: poets.org)

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IN NOVEMBER
By Lisel Mueller

Outside the house the wind is howling
and the trees are creaking horribly.
This is an old story
with its old beginning,
as I lay me down to sleep.
But when I wake up, sunlight
has taken over the room.
You have already made the coffee
and the radio brings us music
from a confident age. In the paper
bad news is set in distant places.
Whatever was bound to happen
in my story did not happen.
But I know there are rules that cannot be broken.
Perhaps a name was changed.
A small mistake. Perhaps
a woman I do not know
is facing the day with the heavy heart
that, by all rights, should have been mine.

PHOTO: “Autumn Trees” by Bert Kaufman.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR Lisel Mueller was born in Hamburg, Germany, in 1924 and immigrated to America at the age of 15. She graduated from the University of Evansville (Indiana) in 1944 and has taught at the University of Chicago, Elmhurst College in Illinois, and Goddard College in Plainfield, Vermont. Mueller currently resides in a retirement community in Chicago. (Read more at wikipedia.org.)

 

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SOLITUDE LATE AT NIGHT IN THE WOODS
by Robert Bly

The body is like a November birch facing the full moon
And reaching into the cold heavens.
In these trees there is no ambition, no sodden body, no leaves,
Nothing but bare trunks climbing like cold fire!
 
My last walk in the trees has come.  At dawn
I must return to the trapped fields,
To the obedient earth.
The trees shall be reaching all the winter.
 
It is a joy to walk in the bare woods.
The moonlight is not broken by the heavy leaves.
The leaves are down, and touching the soaked earth,
Giving off the odor that partridges love.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Robert Bly (born1926) is an American poet, author, activist and leader of the mythopoetic men’s movement. His most commercially successful book to date was Iron John: A Book About Men (1990), a key text of the mythopoetic men’s movement, which spent 62 weeks on the The New York Times Best Seller list. He won the 1968National Book Award for Poetry for his book The Light Around the Body. (Read more at wikipedia.org.)

PHOTO: “Full moon rising through birch tree forest” by Paul Pluskwik, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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MY AUTUMN LEAVES
by Bruce Weigl

I watch the woods for deer as if I’m armed.
I watch the woods for deer who never come.
I know the hes and shes in autumn
rendezvous in orchards stained with fallen
apples’ scent. I drive my car this way to work
so I may let the crows in corn believe
it’s me their caws are meant to warn,
and snakes who turn in warm and secret caves
 
they know me too. They know the boy
who lives inside me still won’t go away.
The deer are ghosts who slip between the light
through trees, so you may only hear the snap
of branches in the thicket beyond hope.
I watch the woods for deer, as if I’m armed. 

 Photo: Mark P. Jones, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

“My Autumn Leaves” is found in My Unraveling Strangeness, Bruce Weigl’s 2002 poetry collection from Grove Press. Find the book at Amazon.com.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Bruce Weigl entered the Army at eighteen and served in Vietnam for one year, beginning in December 1967. He was awarded the Bronze Star and returned to his hometown of Lorain, Ohio. He earned his BA at Oberlin College, his MA at the University of New Hampshire, and his PhD at the University of Utah. Weigl is the author of more than a dozen books of poetry, including The Unraveling Strangeness (2002), Archeology of the Circle: New and Selected Poems (1999), and After the Others (1999). Weigl has won the Robert Creeley Award, the Lannan Literary Award for Poetry, the Paterson Poetry Prize, the Poet’s Prize from the Academy of American Poets, the Cleveland Arts Prize, and two Pushcart Prizes. Song of Napalm (1998) was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. He has also been awarded fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Yaddo Foundation.

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BEYOND THE RED RIVER
By Thomas McGrath

The birds have flown their summer skies to the south,
And the flower-money is drying in the banks of bent grass
Which the bumble bee has abandoned. We wait for a winter lion,
Body of ice-crystals and sombrero of dead leaves.
 
A month ago, from the salt engines of the sea,
A machinery of early storms rolled toward the holiday houses
Where summer still dozed in the pool-side chairs, sipping
An aging whiskey of distances and departures.
 
Now the long freight of autumn goes smoking out of the land.
My possibles are all packed up, but still I do not leave.
I am happy enough here, where Dakota drifts wild in the universe,
Where the prairie is starting to shake in the surf of the winter dark.

“Beyond the Red River” appears in Thomas McGrath‘s Selected Poems 1938-1988 (Copper Canyon Press, 1988).

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Thomas Matthew McGrath (1916-1990) was a celebrated American poet. McGrath grew up on a farm in Ransom County, North Dakota, and earned a B.A. from the University of North Dakota at Grand Forks. He served in the Aleutian Islands with the U.S. Army Air Forces during World War II, and was later awarded a Rhodes Scholarship at Oxford. McGrath also pursued postgraduate studies at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. He taught at Colby College in Maine and at Los Angeles State College, from which he was dismissed in connection with his appearance, as an unfriendly witness, before the House Committee on Un-American Activities in 1953. Later he taught at North Dakota State University, and Minnesota State University, Moorhead.  McGrath wrote mainly about his own life and social concerns. His best-known work is Letter to an Imaginary Friend published in sections between 1957 and 1985 and as a single poem in 1997 by Copper Canyon Press. (Read more at wikipedia.org.)

PHOTO: “Red leaf in pool by river” by S. Mammoser, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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THE BEAUTIFUL CHANGES
by Richard Wilbur

One wading a Fall meadow finds on all sides   
The Queen Anne’s Lace lying like lilies
On water; it glides
So from the walker, it turns
Dry grass to a lake, as the slightest shade of you   
Valleys my mind in fabulous blue Lucernes.
 
The beautiful changes as a forest is changed   
By a chameleon’s tuning his skin to it;   
As a mantis, arranged
On a green leaf, grows
Into it, makes the leaf leafier, and proves   
Any greenness is deeper than anyone knows.
 
Your hands hold roses always in a way that says   
They are not only yours; the beautiful changes   
In such kind ways,   
Wishing ever to sunder
Things and things’ selves for a second finding, to lose   
For a moment all that it touches back to wonder.

Photo: “Queen Anne’s Lace” by Amy Tyler, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Prints available at fineartamerica.com.

“The Beautiful Changes” appears Richard Wilbur’s Collected Poems 1943-2004 (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2004).

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Richard Purdy Wilbur (born March 1, 1921) is an American poet and literary translator. He was appointed the second Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress in 1987, and twice received the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, in 1957 and 1989. (Read more at wikipedia.org)

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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. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Thomas Ernest Hulme (1883 1917) was an English critic and poet who, through his writings on art, literature and politics, had a notable influence upon modernism. (Read more at wikipedia.org.)

PHOTO: “Red Moon Rising” by Flavio (July 7, 2009), ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Photographer’s note:  The orange-red colors that the moon sometimes take on are caused by particles in the Earth’s atmosphere. So, this is an interesting and nice-looking result of pollution. When the sunlight reflected by the moon passes through the Earth’s atmosphere, it is scattered by atmospheric particles. Blue light is scattered more than red light, which passes straight through. Incidentally, this is why the sky is blue.
When the moon is close to the horizon, the light must travel through a maximum amount of atmosphere to get to your eyes — blue light gets scattered, while red light goes straight, making the object look redder. In other words, the moon sometimes (and the sun every day) tends to look orange or red when it is rising or setting.