October Poem of the Month: Song for Autumn

 Song for Autumn


In the deep fall
don’t you imagine the leaves think how
comfortable it will be to touch
the earth instead of the
nothingness of air and the endless
freshets of wind? And don’t you think
the trees themselves, especially those with mossy,
warm caves, begin to think

of 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
vanishes, and the white field over which
the fox runs so quickly brings out
its blue shadows. And the wind pumps its
bellows. And at evening especially,
the piled firewood shifts a little,
longing to be on its way.

–Mary Oliver, in New and Collected Poems Vol. II (c)


Journal Prompts

  • Mary Oliver is known as a poet deeply observant of nature. Following her lead, take a walk around your neighborhood or natural world and notice all the signals of October. Write your own praise poem or song for autumn.
  • What is “whispering goodbye” to you? What “vanishes” leaving only “blue shadows”?
  • Start a write, And at evening especially,/ (I) shift a little,/ longing to be on (my) way.
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