It’s October already. As the skies fill with clouds, the leaves turn yellow and begin to fall, and we gather our sweaters and boots together, it’s a good time to wax poetic about the changing seasons.
Here are some literary and poetic quotes to get you in an autumnal mood (omitting obvious choices from Frost, Shakespeare, and Keats). They range from the sublime to the football themed to the simple and sad.
Enjoy them with your favorite hot drink, be it pumpkin-spiced or not.
October was a beautiful month at Green Gables, when the birches in the hollow turned as golden as sunshine and the maples behind the orchard were royal crimson and the wild cherry trees along the lane put on the loveliest shades of dark red and bronzy green, while the fields sunned themselves in aftermaths. Anne reveled in the world of color about her. “Oh, Marilla,” she exclaimed one Saturday morning, coming dancing in with her arms full of gorgeous boughs, “I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers. It would be terrible if we just skipped from September to November, wouldn’t it? Look at these maple branches. Don’t they give you a thrill—several thrills? I’m going to decorate my room with them.”
— from Anne of Green Gables, by L.M. Mongtomery
“Sweater weather,” you said. And I am swept like a crisp oak leaf into a duvet and down dream, where the pillows do not speak of the warm, the moments large and small when I nestle near you, demanding that arms dress me to close kept comfort.
— from “Sweater Weather” by Lisa Shields
I heard the hissing rustle of the liquid and sands, as directed to me, whispering, to congratulate me, For the one I love most lay sleeping by me under the same cover in the cool night, In the stillness, in the autumn moonbeams, his face was inclined toward me, And his arm lay lightly around my breast—and that night I was happy.
— from “Leaves of Grass” by Walt Whitman
Their sons grow suicidally beautiful
At the beginning of October,
And gallop terribly against each other’s bodies.
It feels cruel. Something in me isn’t ready to let go of summer so easily. To destroy what I’ve carefully cultivated all these months. Those pale flowers might still have time to fruit.
— from “September Tomatoes” by Karina Borowicz
At no other time (than autumn) does the earth let itself be inhaled in one smell, the ripe earth; in a smell that is in no way inferior to the smell of the sea, bitter where it borders on taste, and more honeysweet where you feel it touching the first sounds. Containing depth within itself, darkness, something of the grave almost.
― from Letters on Cézanne , by Rainer Maria Rilke
Her pleasure in the walk must arise from the exercise and the day, from the view of the last smiles of the year upon the tawny leaves and withered hedges, and from repeating to herself some few of the thousand poetical descriptions extant of autumn–that season of peculiar and inexhaustible influence on the mind of taste and tenderness–that season which has drawn from every poet worthy of being read some attempt at description, or some lines of feeling.
― from Persuasion, by Jane Austen
Is not this a true autumn day? Just the still melancholy that I love – that makes life and nature harmonise. The birds are consulting about their migrations, the trees are putting on the hectic or the pallid hues of decay, and begin to strew the ground, that one’s very footsteps may not disturb the repose of earth and air, while they give us a scent that is a perfect anodyne to the restless spirit. Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.
― from the letters of George Eliot
And then there is that day when all around, all around you hear the dropping of the apples, one by one, from the trees. At ﬁrst it is one here and one there, and then it is three and then it is four and then nine and twenty, until the apples plummet like rain, fall like horse hoofs in the soft, darkening grass, and you are the last apple on the tree; and you wait for the wind to work you slowly free from your hold upon the sky, and drop you down and down. Long before you hit the grass you will have forgotten there ever was a tree, or other apples, or a summer, or green grass below, You will fall in darkness…
― from Dandelion Wine , by Ray Bradbury
Go, sit upon the lofty hill, And turn your eyes around, Where waving woods and waters wild Do hymn an autumn sound. The summer sun is faint on them — The summer flowers depart — Sit still — as all transform’d to stone, Except your musing heart.
— from “The Autumn,” by Elizabeth Barrett Browning