Posted by: poet kate hutchinson | October 3, 2016

Autumn sparks the poet in us all

red leaves appear

on the crown of the maple

final revelry

There’s no way to tell, but I’d wager more poetry has been written during and about autumnautumn-trees-13053203313qk than any other season — with spring following closely behind.  Witnessing death and rebirth all around us brings out our inner poets.

John Keats’ “Ode to Autumn” is my favorite fall poem, for its masterful use of stanzas to show the passage of time throughout the autumn season as well as throughout one day.  He also focuses each stanza on one of the senses, adding another layer of complexity.

This poem single-handedly taught me the precision of the poet’s craft.

For me, though, it’s hard not to race ahead to winter the moment I see the first leaf yellow and fall.  The nip of evening brings on a chill we know too well, those of us in the northern regions.  Leafy bonfires quickly give way to logs in the fireplace.

bare-tree-at-sunset-douglas-taylorSo I guess it’s no surprise that when I sat down to write about autumn, I ended up with a poem about facing another winter!  The natural world spends the fall preparing for winter, after all.  Squirrels are already digging up my flower pots, burying nuts.  A flock of sandhill cranes flew overhead this morning, squawking their retreat.  And underneath the bark of every tree, soon to be barren, the sap is slowly thickening in order to allow the tree to survive the lashes of snow and frigid days to come.

Here’s a poem I wrote using the ovillejo form, one I’d not heard of until recently.  It comes from 16th century Spain and is a form Cervantes liked to use.  Its constraints include the 4 stanzas, syllable counts, a rhyme scheme, and some repetition in the final quatrain.  Typically, the ovillejo opens by posing a question.

Facing Winter


How can we face the winter again?

That white terrain.


A shard of ice, a freeze of breath,

a little death.


Infinite gray, the taunting wink of sun –

time’s gaping yawn.


Rest now, rest.  How pointless the grief

when every fiber of nature – sedated,

wise, patient – knows the white terrain.

A little death, then chariots unleashed.



Photo credits:  2livelong.blogspot (apples); (swallows); kathrynwarmstrong.wordpress (sun in trees)

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