Seasonally speaking, “dog” may be most closely associated with summer, but my motley crew of mutts and I enjoy the segue between fall and winter, when the air has a feisty nip that is not yet a piercing bite and the trees relinquish their lingering golden shields (perhaps because yellow maintains a lofty peak in the canine color spectrum, the dogs occasionally give chase to and paw at falling autumnal leaves as if they’re flattened tennis balls).
Many autumns have passed since I last recalled An Autumn Greeting, one of those short, simple, rhyming poems you learn as a child that makes you think all poems are short, simple and rhyme:
“Come,” said the Wind to the Leaves one day.
“Come over the meadow and we will play.
Put on your dresses of red and gold.
For summer is gone and the days grow cold.”
I wondered who penned this succinct, evocative gem. It is attributed to Anonymous. Alas, the Internet cannot tell us everything.
Fall stirs the poet’s soul like no other season save spring. There are riches to be mined in the ephemeral, transitory nature of each. My favorite poem on autumn is Alice Cary’s November, which regards the season with rhyme and reason…
The leaves are fading and falling;
The winds are rough and wild;
The birds have ceased their calling—
But let me tell you, my child,
Though day by day, as it closes,
Doth darker and colder grow,
The roots of the bright red roses
Will keep alive in the snow.
And when the winter is over,
The boughs will get new leaves,
The quail come back to the clover,
And the swallow back to the eaves.
The robin will wear on his bosom
A vest that is bright and new,
And the loveliest wayside blossom
Will shine with the sun and dew.
The leaves today are whirling;
The brooks are all dry and dumb—
But let me tell you, my darling,
The spring will be sure to come.
There must be rough, cold weather,
And winds and rains so wild;
Not all good things together
Come to us here, my child.
So, when some dear joy loses
Its beauteous summer glow,
Think how the roots of the roses
Are kept alive in the snow.