Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
  Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
  With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
  And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
    To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
  With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
    For summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
  Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
  Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep,
  Drowsed with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
    Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
  Steady thy laden head across a brook;
  Or by a cider-press, with patient look,
    Thou watchest the last oozings, hours by hours.

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
  Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,—
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
  And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
  Among the river sallows, borne aloft
    Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
  Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
  The redbreast whistles from a garden-croft,
    And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

Written September 19, 1819; first published in 1820. This poem is in the public domain.

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth's sweet flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

This poem is in the public domain.

Loveliest of trees, the cherry now
Is hung with bloom along the bough,
And stands about the woodland ride
Wearing white for Eastertide.

Now, of my threescore years and ten,
Twenty will not come again,
And take from seventy springs a score,
It only leaves me fifty more.

And since to look at things in bloom
Fifty springs are little room,
About the woodlands I will go
To see the cherry hung with snow.

This poem is in the public domain.


Every October it becomes important, no, necessary
to see the leaves turning, to be surrounded
by leaves turning; it's not just the symbolism,
to confront in the death of the year your death,
one blazing farewell appearance, though the irony 
isn't lost on you that nature is most seductive
when it's about to die, flaunting the dazzle of its 
incipient exit, an ending that at least so far 
the effects of human progress (pollution, acid rain)
have not yet frightened you enough to make you believe
is real; that is, you know this ending is a deception
because of course nature is always renewing itself—
        the trees don't die, they just pretend,
        go out in style, and return in style: a new style.


Is it deliberate how far they make you go
especially if you live in the city to get far 
enough away from home to see not just trees 
but only trees? The boring highways, roadsigns, high 
speeds, 10-axle trucks passing you as if they were 
in an even greater hurry than you to look at leaves:
so you drive in terror for literal hours and it looks 
like rain, or snow, but it's probably just clouds
(too cloudy to see any color?) and you wonder, 
given the poverty of your memory, which road had the 
most color last year, but it doesn't matter since 
you're probably too late anyway, or too early—
        whichever road you take will be the wrong one
        and you've probably come all this way for nothing.


You'll be driving along depressed when suddenly
a cloud will move and the sun will muscle through
and ignite the hills. It may not last. Probably
won't last. But for a moment the whole world
comes to. Wakes up. Proves it lives. It lives—
red, yellow, orange, brown, russet, ocher, vermilion,
gold. Flame and rust. Flame and rust, the permutations
of burning. You're on fire. Your eyes are on fire.
It won't last, you don't want it to last. You 
can't stand any more. But you don't want it to stop. 
It's what you've come for. It's what you'll
come back for. It won't stay with you, but you'll 
        remember that it felt like nothing else you've felt
        or something you've felt that also didn't last.

Copyright © 1992 by Lloyd Schwartz. From Goodnight, Gracie (The University of Chicago Press, 1992). Appears courtesy of the author.

My sorrow, when she’s here with me,
     Thinks these dark days of autumn rain
Are beautiful as days can be;
She loves the bare, the withered tree;
     She walks the sodden pasture lane.

Her pleasure will not let me stay.
     She talks and I am fain to list:
She’s glad the birds are gone away,
She’s glad her simple worsted grey
     Is silver now with clinging mist.

The desolate, deserted trees,
     The faded earth, the heavy sky,
The beauties she so truly sees,
She thinks I have no eye for these,
     And vexes me for reason why.

Not yesterday I learned to know
     The love of bare November days
Before the coming of the snow,
But it were vain to tell her so,
     And they are better for her praise.

This poem is in the public domain.

“Oh, let’s go up the hill and scare ourselves,
As reckless as the best of them to-night,
By setting fire to all the brush we piled
With pitchy hands to wait for rain or snow.
Oh, let’s not wait for rain to make it safe.
The pile is ours: we dragged it bough on bough
Down dark converging paths between the pines.
Let’s not care what we do with it to-night.
Divide it? No! But burn it as one pile
The way we piled it. And let’s be the talk
Of people brought to windows by a light
Thrown from somewhere against their wall-paper.
Rouse them all, both the free and not so free
With saying what they’d like to do to us
For what they’d better wait till we have done.
Let’s all but bring to life this old volcano,
If that is what the mountain ever was—
And scare ourselves. Let wild fire loose we will….”

“And scare you too?” the children said together.

“Why wouldn’t it scare me to have a fire
Begin in smudge with ropy smoke and know
That still, if I repent, I may recall it,
But in a moment not: a little spurt
Of burning fatness, and then nothing but
The fire itself can put it out, and that
By burning out, and before it burns out
It will have roared first and mixed sparks with stars,
And sweeping round it with a flaming sword,
Made the dim trees stand back in wider circle—
Done so much and I know not how much more
I mean it shall not do if I can bind it.
Well if it doesn’t with its draft bring on
A wind to blow in earnest from some quarter,
As once it did with me upon an April.
The breezes were so spent with winter blowing
They seemed to fail the bluebirds under them
Short of the perch their languid flight was toward;
And my flame made a pinnacle to heaven
As I walked once round it in possession.
But the wind out of doors—you know the saying.
There came a gust. You used to think the trees
Made wind by fanning since you never knew
It blow but that you saw the trees in motion.
Something or someone watching made that gust.
It put the flame tip-down and dabbed the grass
Of over-winter with the least tip-touch
Your tongue gives salt or sugar in your hand.
The place it reached to blackened instantly.
The black was all there was by day-light,
That and the merest curl of cigarette smoke—
And a flame slender as the hepaticas,
Blood-root, and violets so soon to be now.
But the black spread like black death on the ground,
And I think the sky darkened with a cloud
Like winter and evening coming on together.
There were enough things to be thought of then.
Where the field stretches toward the north
And setting sun to Hyla brook, I gave it
To flames without twice thinking, where it verges
Upon the road, to flames too, though in fear
They might find fuel there, in withered brake,
Grass its full length, old silver golden-rod,
And alder and grape vine entanglement,
To leap the dusty deadline. For my own
I took what front there was beside. I knelt
And thrust hands in and held my face away.
Fight such a fire by rubbing not by beating.
A board is the best weapon if you have it.
I had my coat. And oh, I knew, I knew,
And said out loud, I couldn’t bide the smother
And heat so close in; but the thought of all
The woods and town on fire by me, and all
The town turned out to fight for me—that held me.
I trusted the brook barrier, but feared
The road would fail; and on that side the fire
Died not without a noise of crackling wood—
Of something more than tinder-grass and weed—
That brought me to my feet to hold it back
By leaning back myself, as if the reins
Were round my neck and I was at the plough.
I won! But I’m sure no one ever spread
Another color over a tenth the space
That I spread coal-black over in the time
It took me. Neighbors coming home from town
Couldn’t believe that so much black had come there
While they had backs turned, that it hadn’t been there
When they had passed an hour or so before
Going the other way and they not seen it.
They looked about for someone to have done it.
But there was no one. I was somewhere wondering
Where all my weariness had gone and why
I walked so light on air in heavy shoes
In spite of a scorched Fourth-of-July feeling.
Why wouldn’t I be scared remembering that?”

“If it scares you, what will it do to us?”

“Scare you. But if you shrink from being scared,
What would you say to war if it should come?
That’s what for reasons I should like to know—
If you can comfort me by any answer.”

“Oh, but war’s not for children—it’s for men.”

“Now we are digging almost down to China.
My dears, my dears, you thought that—we all thought it.
So your mistake was ours. Haven’t you heard, though,
About the ships where war has found them out
At sea, about the towns where war has come
Through opening clouds at night with droning speed
Further o’erhead than all but stars and angels,—
And children in the ships and in the towns?
Haven’t you heard what we have lived to learn?
Nothing so new—something we had forgotten:
War is for everyone, for children too.
I wasn’t going to tell you and I mustn’t.
The best way is to come up hill with me
And have our fire and laugh and be afraid.”

This poem is in the public domain. 

The sandy spits, the shore-lock’d lakes, 
   Melt into open, moonlit sea; 
The soft Mediterranean breaks 
            At my feet, free. 

Dotting the fields of corn and vine 
   Like ghosts, the huge, gnarl’d olives stand;
Behind, that lovely mountain-line! 
            While by the strand 

Cette, with its glistening houses white, 
   Curves with the curving beach away
To where the lighthouse beacons bright 
            Far in the bay.

Ah, such a night, so soft, so lone, 
   So moonlit, saw me once of yore 
Wander unquiet, and my own
            Vext heart deplore! 

The murmur of this Midland deep 
   Is heard to-night around thy grave 
There where Gibraltar’s cannon’d steep
            O’erfrowns the wave. 

In cities should we English lie, 
   Where cries are rising ever new, 
And men’s incessant stream goes by;
            We who pursue 

Our business with unslackening stride, 
   Traverse in troops, with care-fill’d breast, 
The soft Mediterranean side, 
            The Nile, the East, 

And see all sights from pole to pole, 
   And glance, and nod, and bustle by; 
And never once possess our soul 
            Before we die. 

Not by those hoary Indian hills, 
   Not by this gracious Midland sea
Whose floor to-night sweet moonshine fills, 
            Should our graves be! 

Some sage, to whom the world was dead,
   And men were specks, and life a play;
Who made the roots of trees his bed, 
            And once a day 

With staff and gourd his way did bend
   To villages and homes of man, 
For food to keep him till he end 
            His mortal span, 

And the pure goal of Being reach;
   Grey-headed, wrinkled, clad in white, 
Without companion, without speech, 
            By day and night 

Pondering God’s mysteries untold,
   And tranquil as the glacier snows––
He by those Indian mountains old 
            Might well repose!

Some grey crusading knight austere 
   Who bore Saint Louis company 
And came home hurt to death and here 
            Landed to die;

Some youthful troubadour whose tongue 
   Fill’d Europe once with his love-pain, 
Who here outwearied sunk, and sung
            His dying strain;

Some girl who here from castle-bower,
   With furtive step and cheek of flame,
’Twixt myrtle-hedges all in flower 
            By moonlight came 

To meet her pirate-lover’s ship, 
   And from the wave-kiss’d marble stair 
Beckon’d him on, with quivering lip 
            And unbound hair, 

And lived some moons in happy trance, 
   Then learnt his death, and pined away––
Such by these waters of romance
            ’Twas meet to lay! 

But you––a grave for knight or sage, 
   Romantic, solitary, still, 
O spent ones of a work-day age!
            Befits you ill. 

So sang I; but the midnight breeze 
   Down to the brimm’d moon-charmed main
Comes softly through the olive-trees,
            And checks my strain. 

I think of her, whose gentle tongue 
   All plaint in her own cause controll’d;
Of thee I think, my brother! young 
            In heart, high-soul’d;

That comely face, that cluster’d brow,
   That cordial hand, that bearing free, 
I see them still, I see them now, 
            Shall always see! 

And what but gentleness untired, 
   And what but noble feeling warm, 
Wherever shown, howe’er attired, 
            Is grace, is charm?

What else is all these waters are, 
   What else is steep’d in lucid sheen,
What else is bright, what else is fair, 
            What else serene?

Mild o’er her grave, ye mountains, shine! 
   Gently by his, ye waters, glide! 
To that in you which is divine
            They were allied.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on March 9, 2024, by the Academy of American Poets.

The City Cemetery was established in 1847 
on “high ground, sixteen feet above sea level” in Key West 
following the disastrous hurricane of October 11, 1846, 
where the then beachside cemetery was unearthed due 
to the winds and seas.
                                   —“Historic Key West City Cemetery,” City of Key West Florida

In Key West, the living surround the dead, 
who are the best neighbors 
silent and agreeable as well-swept porches. 
A fence that separates this world 
from the next keeps their restless spirits 
in or ours out. Do these dead know they are 
dead, lying in their own dead ghetto, their little 
houses stacked, neat bleachers, or lined up like 
rows of beach towels? 

Each morning the living rise like drowned 
voyagers from their beds, dreams, sleep slough 
falling from their eyes. They greet mortality 
a footfall from their door. What is it like to live 
among the dead? What is it like to rest among 
the living? Do the dead dream too? 
Do they turn their dead faces beyond the fence, 
like moths to fever and regret?

Once, the sea rose like an emancipator 
and pulled the dead from their parched 
slumber. Bones as needy as dry fruit rose 
like giddy children upon the sea’s fickle back. 
What joy that must have been, to ride 
the sea free of stone abode, to leap 
and turn like froth, like ash dancing 
among a living flame. In the end 
the dead were dead again, slumped in trees 
and elsewhere like drowned creatures, and the 
living were left alive again to bury and to mourn.

Copyright © 2024 by Jacqueline Allen Trimble. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on February 28, 2024, by the Academy of American Poets. 

There are many types of trees
the dragon tree
the weeping willow
the cocoa tree
with strong roots and thick branches
the sugar maple
the eucalyptus.

All different species that grow robustly
to compete for sunlight.

The white oak
the silver birch
the tree of heaven

Some die of old age
or deforestation
or uprooted by a hurricane.
Infestations and diseases vary
from place to place.

Our family tree
has stopped growing.
No one waters it
no one visits it
it no longer bears fruit
no one asks why
but we all know.



El árbol


Hay muchos tipos de árboles
el drago
el sauce llorón
el árbol de cacao
de fuertes raíces y gruesas ramas
el arce de azúcar
el eucalipto.

Todos de diferentes especies que crecen robustos
para competir por la luz del sol.

El roble blanco
el abedul plateado
el árbol del cielo.

Algunos mueren de viejos
por deforestación
o arrancados por un huracán
las infestaciones y las enfermedades varían
de un lugar a otro.

Nuestro árbol genealógico
ha dejado de crecer
nadie lo riega
nadie visita
ya no da frutos
nadie pregunta por qué
pero todos sabemos.

From Lotería / Nocturnal Sweepstakes (University of Arizona Press, 2023) by Elizabeth Torres. Copyright © 2023 by Elizabeth Torres. Used with the permission of the University of Arizona Press. 

What is home: 
it is the shade of trees on my way to school
    before they were uprooted.
It is my grandparents’ black-and-white wedding 
    photo before the walls crumbled. 
It is my uncle’s prayer rug, where dozens of ants
   slept on wintry nights, before it was looted and 
   put in a museum. 
It is the oven my mother used to bake bread and 
   roast chicken before a bomb reduced our house 
   to ashes. 
It is the café where I watched football matches
   and played—

My child stops me: Can a four-letter word hold
   all of these? 

From Things You May Find Hidden in My Ear by Mosab Abu Toha. Copyright © 2022 by Mosab Abu Toha. Reprinted with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC, on behalf of City Lights Publishers.

Mother gave birth to me in the fall 
in the midst of grieving trees and withering leaves. 
Winter came home right after 
accompanied by winds of solitude. 
My earliest memories revolved around cold weather 
yet I remember meeting with summer  
before ever blowing my first candle. 
I saw these same trees shimmer in full bloom. 
I saw their branches clothed in vivid green. 

Early on,  
I learned not to shed a tear when autumn leaves 
for I know that summer comes home through the shiver. 

Reprinted from A Pathway Through Survival (2021). Copyright © 2021 by Margaret O. Daramola. Used with permission of the author. All rights reserved. 

For Miss Eugenia L. V. Geisenheimer

Blue, pink, and yellow houses, and, afar,
The cemetery, where the green trees are.

Sometimes you see a hungry dog pass by,
And there are always buzzards in the sky.
Sometimes you hear the big cathedral bell,
A blindman rings it; and sometimes you hear
A rumbling ox-cart that brings wood to sell.
Else nothing ever breaks the ancient spell
That holds the town asleep, save, once a year,
The Easter festival . . .
                                                I come from there,
And when I tire of hoping, and despair
Is heavy over me, my thoughts go far,
Beyond that length of lazy street, to where 
The lonely green trees and the white graves are.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on September 10, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.

The weather turned bad and I got happy.
That’s wrong—I mean the morning sky

was ash blue, birds on the ground. I mean
not happy but good, not good

but fastened, steady, like every train in the city
was running late, but no one minded.

On 12th Street, tarpaulin swelled
and bowed in wind. Rain drove straight

through a woman’s dress. And again
on Hollis, that slowness: damp black

trees, the line of streetlights
paced like breath. I pulled over. Leaves

dripped like rinsed hands.
A girl held her mother 

by the shoulders on a porch. 

From North American Stadiums by Grady Chambers. Copyright © 2018 by Grady Chambers. Used with the permission of Milkweed Editions.

I stand at my window and listen;
Only the plaintive murmur of a swarm of cicadas.
I stand on the wet grass and ponder,
And turn to the east and behold you,
Great yellow moon.
Why do you frighten me so,
You captive of the coconut glade?
I have seen you before,
Have flirted with you so many a night.

When my heart, ever throbbing, never listless,
Had pined for the moonlight to calm it.
But you were a dainty whiteness
That kissed my brow then.
A gentle, pale flutter
That touched my aching breast.

You are a lonely yellow moon now.
You are ghastly, spectral tonight,
Behind your prison bars of coconut trees.
That is why
I do not dare take you into my hand
And press you against my cheek
To feel how cold you are.

I am afraid of you, yellow moon.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on May 20, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.

November and trees blown bare and leaves stippling
The autumn-stripping wind and trees futilely fingering
Lee-wind after down-streaming foliage…

The bright birds are gone and their small and excellent music,
The nests unleafed and visible to ridicule of sparrows and pigeons…

Now turn. From no feathered throat shall be this winter’s music.
Nor from memories of music in deserted nests.
Now turn to wind’s cry in the bent trees and the granite gaps,
And in the city clattering the billboards together,
And furious between houses flinging the snow against frosted snow.

Turn here to this extravagance for voice and music.
Open imagination to the clash of gigantic air.
For wisdom, there is the sunlight falling unbent across such fury.

From The Collected Poems of John Ciardi (University of Arkansas Press, 1997), edited by Edward M. Cifelli. Copyright © 1997 by the Ciardi Family Publishing Trust. Used with the permission of the publisher.