Saturday, September 22, 2012

Prompt #119 – What Autumn Brings

Happy autumn everyone (in the northern hemisphere anyway)! Autumn officially begins in my place on the map at 10:49 AM today (September 22nd). Just as that happens, I’ll be conducting a workshop and critique sessions at a Women Who Write poetry conference in Madison, NJ, and tonight I’ll be celebrating the autumnal equinox (a time of equality between day and night) with friends, dinner, and a bottle of mead. My mom always called autumn “the brief, bright season.” As a child, it was always my favorite time of year (quite probably because autumn’s arrival heralded my birthday, Thanksgiving, and Christmas).

There’s something special about autumn's mixture of warm sun, cooler air, and colorful leaves. This week, let’s celebrate the season and write poems about autumn. You might try an ode or a sonnet, or you might write about an autumn experience that you had (memoir poem). You might describe the season (being careful to make your description unique and memorable – avoid those seasonal poem clichés that can ruin otherwise good poems). You might work with autumn as a metaphor (again, be wary of clichés and definitely stay away from autumn as a metaphor for a particular time of life). Another idea is to use the prompt title as the title of your poem (“What Autumn Brings”). An option you might like is to take on the character of an autumn aspect and write a persona poem (write from the perspective of a tree, a leaf, a bonfire, a chestnut, a migrating bird, etc.). Have fun with this – enjoy the imagery of this colorful season!


"I am the autumnal sun" by Henry David Thoreau
"Hornworm: Autumn Lamentation" by Stanley Kunitz
"Autumn Daybreak" by Edna St. Vincent Millay


  1. Happy autumn, Adele, from Nicola and me! This is my favorite time of year, along with spring!

    1. Thanks, Jamie and Nicola! Autumn is lovely, no doubt about it! Enjoy!

  2. Máire Ó Cathail (Ireland)September 23, 2012 at 10:34 AM

    HI Adele,

    I've been traveling for work and away from my personal "desk," so there's much to catch up on with your blog. I like the new look. The beige margin adds a bit of lovely brightness. Now ... on to the blog posts!

    Happy autumn to you!

    Máire Ó Cathail (Ireland)

    1. Great to hear from you, Maire! I hope your journeying was productive and pleasant. Glad that you like the little "facelift" and that you enjoy the prompts.

  3. I love autumn but this poem by Giuseppe Ungaretti (1888-1970 is very sad...

    Si sta come
    sugli alberi
    le foglie.


    We stay as
    in autumn
    on the trees.

    Adele, what do you think?
    It's better " leaves on the trees" or " the leaves on the trees"?

    There is also a french version: Ungaretti was bilingual.


    Nous sommes tels qu’en automne sur l’arbre
    la fueille.

    1. Thanks so much, Jago, for sharing this poem. Yes, it is very sad – so much nuance, and so much said in those few words. I must look this poet up and see more of his work! Thanks again,and thank you for all your contributions to this blog!

    2. Jago, Ungaretti is an immensely interesting poet! I've just been reading a few of his poems (in translation, of course, on the Net). His style is interesting, especially the to-the-point lines, cryptic messages, and shorter poems that are more memorable because of their brevity and power. I would guess that he's more well-known in Europe than in the US.

      Here's one I like (the translation is from the net):

      Sono Una Creatura

      Come questa pietra
      del S. Michele

      così fredda
      così dura
      così prosciugata

      così refrettaria
      così totalmente

      Come questa pietra
      è il mio pianto
      che non si vede

      La morte
      si sconta

      I Am A Creature

      Like this stone of
      San Michele

      as cold
      as hard
      as thoroughly dried

      as refractory
      as deprived of spirit

      Like this stone
      is my weeping that can't
      be seen


    3. Wonderful poem and wonderful translation!
      G. Ungaretti was very famous and really a myth for my generation. At my time every one wrote poems in Ungaretti way ( Ermetismo).Me too:

      Si sono perse le bandiere
      nei venti

      ognuno ha sofferto
      ed ha una tomba
      da curare

      Flags vanished
      in the winds

      everyone suffered
      and has a tomb
      to care

    4. Jago, you've captured the Ungaretti style perfectly! There's something about the short lines and deep meaning that's compelling! Thanks so much for sharing!

  4. Another great prompt! Thanks, Adele!

    The new look (beige border) is very nice - elegant. The black background has a classy look (it's been said that it's harder to read than a light background, but I don't find it to be so). I hope you don't change that!

    1. Thanks, Rich! I read the same thing about black backgrounds not being the easiest to read, but I do like the look. So ... no change in the works. So glad you're onboard, and thanks for your comments.

  5. I just discovered your blog and I'm not sure how to post this, but I'm going to give it a try.

    Thank you for such an incredible poetry site! Brilliant!

    I look forward to visiting again and again.

    Gil Croft

    1. Welcome, GIl! It's nice to "meet" you here on the blog! Thanks so much for your kind words.

  6. Great prompt - there's so much symbolism in autumn, so much striking imagery!

    1. Thanks, Bob! You're right about autumn symbolisms and imagery.

  7. My stepdad used to recite, "When the leaves are in the gutter, that's when I think of me mutter." Always cracked me up.

  8. Margo Roby sent me this way. Here's a poem I wrote two years ago, but it happens every year, so I hope you don't mind.

    Fare Well

    A fleeting moment of wonderment
    from our window this afternoon,
    the sky a transient mosaic
    of whirling, swooping birds
    dipping and diving over the pond.
    Avian sea planes plunge and skim
    along the water, drinking on the wing.

    The house martins have flocked to go,
    their stay with us too short.
    Our garage pair has brought some friends
    for a farewell curtain call -
    they like to travel in company.

    Bon voyage, my summer joy,
    and come back soon.

    1. Hi Vivian,

      So nice to see you here on the blog, and thanks so much for posting your poem! Poems like this are timeless and always current in the appropriate season. Thanks again - I hope you'll come back!

    2. Welcome aboard! Thanks for sharing your poem with us!