October Offerings – Part XVII: Something to Delight both Head and Heart

A Poem for Today

By Robert Frost

O hushed October morning mild,
Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;
Tomorrow’s wind, if it be wild,
Should waste them all.
The crows above the forest call;
Tomorrow they may form and go.
O hushed October morning mild,
Begin the hours of this day slow.
Make the day seem to us less brief.
Hearts not averse to being beguiled,
Beguile us in the way you know.
Release one leaf at break of day;
At noon release another leaf;
One from our trees, one far away.
Retard the sun with gentle mist;
Enchant the land with amethyst.
Slow, slow!
For the grapes’ sake, if they were all,
Whose leaves already are burnt with frost,
Whose clustered fruit must else be lost—
For the grapes’ sake along the wall.

A Second Poem for Today

“Floridian Mabon,”
By Patricia Boutilier

Autumn washes in softly along the Gulf of Mexico,

a fragile, tonal shift to the quality of light.

Well-watered roots spread wider and belie the coming dryness.

Gaia realigns Her axial-spinal tilt.

A fragile, tonal shift to the quality of light,

days and nights of equal balance process to growing darkness.

We remain entrained to the Mother’s yearly cycle.

Gaia’s womb splits open in fruitful blessing to us all.

Days and nights of equal balance process to growing darkness,

a meditation upon our brief mortality.

We dance widdershins the inward spiral, then, deosil, outward go.

Gaia’s breath is ceaseless: waxing, waning, peaking, slowing.

A meditation upon our brief mortality,

this wisp of seasonal moment of gaining and letting go.

Mixed wildflower amber honey spread on fresh-baked whole wheat-bread,

an offering to Gaia, nourishes us in Her stead.

This wisp of seasonal moment of gaining and letting go,

gathered cones of pine and cypress placed in baskets round the house.

Dune sunflower, seaside goldenrod, oxyi daisies

garland Mother Gaia’s sandy coastal bed.

Gathered cones of pine and cypress placed in baskets round the house

soak in the silvery energy of the full moon’s Harvest glow.

A goblet of golden carambola wine,

libation poured and drunk at Gaia’s banyan feet.

Soak in the silvery energy of the full moon’s Harvest glow,

create, commune, and celebrate the releasing of deep magic.

Gaia’s multi-chambered heart beats through eternity,

Autumn washes in softly along the Gulf of Mexico.

Below – Margaret Biggs: “Gulf Coast Autumn”

A Third Poem for Today

“Lament of the Middle Man,”
By Jay Parini

In late October in the park
the autumn’s faults begin to show:
the houses suddenly go stark
beyond a thinning poplar row;
the edges of the leaves go brown
on every chestnut tree in town.

The honking birds go south again
where I have gone in better times;
the hardy ones, perhaps, remain
to nestle in the snowy pines.
I think of one bold, raucous bird
whose wintry song I’ve often heard.

I live among so many things
that flash and fade, that come and go.
One never knows what season brings
relief and which will merely show
how difficult it is to span
a life, given the Fall of Man.

The old ones dawdle on a bench,
and young ones drool into their bibs;
an idle boffer, quite a mensch,
moves fast among the crowd with fibs.
A painted lady hangs upon
his word as if his sword was drawn.

Among so many falling fast
I sometimes wonder why I care;
the first, as ever, shall be last;
the last are always hard to bear.
I never know if I should stay
to see what ails the livelong day.

I never quite know how to ask
why some men wear bright, silver wings
while others, equal to the task,
must play the role of underlings.
“It’s what you know, not who,” they swore.
I should have known what to ignore.

I started early, did my bit
for freedom and the right to pray.
I leaned a little on my wit,
and learned the sort of thing to say,
yet here I am, unsatisfied
and certain all my elders lied.

A middle man in middle way
between the darkness and the dark,
the seasons have tremendous sway:
I change like chestnuts in the park.
Come winter, I’ll be branches, bones;
come spring, a wetness over stones.

A Fourth Poem for Today

“Autumn Evening,”
By David Lehman

(after Holderlin)

The yellow pears hang in the lake.
Life sinks, grace reigns, sins ripen, and
in the north dies an almond tree.

A genius took me by the hand and said
come with me though the time has not yet come.

Therefore, when the gods get lonely,
a hero will emerge from the bushes
of a summer evening
bearing the first green figs of the season.

For the glory of the gods has lain asleep
too long in the dark
in darkness too long
too long in the dark.

Below – Ann Haaland: “Late October Flame”

A Fifth Poem for Today

“Autumn Grasses,”
By Margaret Gibson

In fields of bush clover and hay-scent grass
the autumn moon takes refuge
The cricket’s song is gold

Zeshin’s loneliness taught him this

Who is coming?
What will come to pass, and pass?

Neither bruise nor sweetness nor cool air
knows the way

And the moon?
Who among us does not wander, and flare
and bow to the ground?

Who does not savor, and stand open
if only in secret

taking heart in the ripening of the moon?

Below – Shibata Zeshin: “Autumn Grasses in Moonlight” (two-panel screen)

A Sixth Poem for Today

By Edward Hirsch

Fall, falling, fallen. That’s the way the season
Changes its tense in the long-haired maples
That dot the road; the veiny hand-shaped leaves
Redden on their branches (in a fiery competition
With the final remaining cardinals) and then
Begin to sidle and float through the air, at last
Settling into colorful layers carpeting the ground.
At twilight the light, too, is layered in the trees
In a season of odd, dusky congruences—a scarlet tanager
And the odor of burning leaves, a golden retriever
Loping down the center of a wide street and the sun
Setting behind smoke-filled trees in the distance,
A gap opening up in the treetops and a bruised cloud
Blamelessly filling the space with purples. Everything
Changes and moves in the split second between summer’s
Sprawling past and winter’s hard revision, one moment
Pulling out of the station according to schedule,
Another moment arriving on the next platform. It
Happens almost like clockwork: the leaves drift away
From their branches and gather slowly at our feet,
Sliding over our ankles, and the season begins moving
Around us even as its colorful weather moves us,
Even as it pulls us into its dusty, twilit pockets.
And every year there is a brief, startling moment
When we pause in the middle of a long walk home and
Suddenly feel something invisible and weightless
Touching our shoulders, sweeping down from the air:
It is the autumn wind pressing against our bodies;
It is the changing light of fall falling on us.

Below – Mo Geng: “Autumn Wind”

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