That time of year thou may’st in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruin’d choirs, where late the sweet birds sang:
In me thou see’st the twilight of such day
As after sunset fadeth in the west,
Which by-and-by black night doth take away,
Death’s second self, that seals up all in rest:
In me thou see’st the glowing of such fire,
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie
As the death-bed whereon it must expire,
Consumed with that which it was nourish’d by:
This thou perceiv’st, which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well which thou must leave ere long.
——W. Shakespeare, Sonnet 28
I memorized this in the fall of 1993, my sophomore year at BYU, walking between my apartment at the Riviera and my classes on campus. That fall I listened to Smashing Pumpkins and wore docs and plaid flannel shirts. I don’t know why I did any of it, the flannel or the docs or the memorized poems, and I don’t know why this sonnet, and the memory of its memorization, has stayed with me for so long.
I like autumn, but my neurosis for clean floors makes it difficult for me to relax into its loose-limbed leafiness. Rake and bag, rake and bag, the wind sings. Please share below your autumn observations, natural or metaphysical, compost recipes, and of course poems.
Bonus question: I’ve always thought of Robert Frost’s “Nothing Gold Can Stay” as an autumn poem, but upon closer reading I see that it’s actually about spring, isn’t it?
Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.