Sunday, 16 October 2016

Autumn Poems

Autumn moonlight--
a worm digs silently
into the chestnut. 

–– Matsuo Bashō

The Narrow Road to the Deep North, by Japanese poet, Matsuo Bashō, had been in my bookcase for several years, and every now and again, I’ll bring it out, read a few more of his wonderful haiku, and find myself inspired to write some of my own.  Bashō was born in 1694 and became a teacher, but loved to wander throughout Japan, far into the northern wilderness to gain inspiration for his writing. I understand that lust for walking constantly towards the horizon, but I’d rather wander around my mere half acre, enjoying what we’ve created, dreaming my dreams, and planning the next garden jobs. 

When I turn to haiku, it’s often because I’m being influenced by the seasons, their turning and changing.  

Pagans celebrate autumn as the season of harvest – from the time of golden wheat and barley, through the last of the green beans and courgettes, to apple-picking and beyond, all the while trying to catch and enjoy the last temperate moments before winter. We start the season of 'mists and mellow fruitfulness' off by celebrating Lughnasadh, move through the autumn equinox,  and complete our autumnal journey by bringing in the 'bleak, wailing winds' of winter at Samhain .  

In our garden in West Wales, we've had fifteen consecutive golden autumn days, warm sun on our backs as we sweep up the fallen leaves. It's been so balmy, the final flowers are still blooming, and that sent me out with my camera. I had to capture those last, fine moments of autumn.

But it's a busy time, with all that chutney to make, all those beans to freeze, and my writing has become, short, sweet and to the point.

Autumn is the perfect season for haiku, those beautifully tight and rounded gems which originated in Japan, and here are some offerings for autumn days.

This robin, trilling
While the earth is temperate,
Knows of hard winter

The ash bucket's full.
Still warm from evening's fire.
Fruit trees gave their all.

The song of a bird
Perched free in his blue-gold cage,
His heart has filled mine 

Fairy mist, surging
last night from the vale below. 
Now, trees drip like rain.

Rosa Rugosa,
The syrup tastes of summer,
Keeps our colds away.

Midnight silent chill. 
In the branches, an owl,
white from moonlight, watching.

Seven am, the sun's
First rays at the horizon.
Cold now, winter, soon.


  1. One of my favourite Basho haikai verses, thank you. Great piece about Autumn, especially as haikai verses (hokku and haiku) are about the seasons changes (nature) and events (nature and urban).

    Love "an owl,
    white from moonlight"

    warm regards,


  2. Thank you Alan. I'm loving reading The Narrow Road to the Deep North. Such complex simplicity!

    1. Enjoy! Which version? All of them good in English, and Cid Corman's is very different but worth a look too. :-)

      warm regards,