Dante Gabriel Rossetti

(12 May 1828 – 9 April 1882 / London / England)

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Autumn Song


Know'st thou not at the fall of the leaf
How the heart feels a languid grief
Laid on it for a covering,
And how sleep seems a goodly thing
In Autumn at the fall of the leaf?

And how the swift beat of the brain
Falters because it is in vain,
In Autumn at the fall of the leaf
Knowest thou not? and how the chief
Of joys seems—not to suffer pain?

Know'st thou not at the fall of the leaf
How the soul feels like a dried sheaf
Bound up at length for harvesting,
And how death seems a comely thing
In Autumn at the fall of the leaf?

Submitted: Tuesday, December 31, 2002
Edited: Thursday, September 22, 2011

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  • John Kim (9/22/2013 9:23:00 PM)

    I would take the autumn in a total different way......
    Shedding of leaves gives the sign of start of new fresh life... Spring is on its way....
    Every season leaves an impact on the mind of every person. It is as if seasons have a say on our mind. Yes, definitely. Here, the poet sees Autumn in the above way. As trees shed out their leaves, it gives the reminder of death - very symbolic. Truly philosophical. As one would look at the bare tree branches, one can be driven to sadness. In cenemas, when a character is in a desolate condition, often a barren tree will also be included in the scene. This shows the general mood that a barren tree creates in the mind of man. The poet's mind is also within the same framework. (Report) Reply

  • Manohar Bhatia (9/22/2013 7:00:00 AM)

    The poet is saddened when a tree sheads a leaf and that leaf covers the ground like a bed for someone to sleep and it is only in Autumn this happens. Then the next stanza says something about the brain.In Autumn only, our brain wants to beat swiftly, but because it is Autumn, it is relaxed and this chief of joy(i.e.the brain) does not suffer the pain of beating swiftly.Then in the third stanza, the soul of man is decribed to a dried sheaf, which is almost dead and {death} is like a comedy of errors.A great poem, if someone goes deep into it.
    Manohar Bhatia. (Report) Reply

  • Kevin Straw (9/22/2012 10:43:00 AM)

    No I do not know, is the short answer. The question is has Rossetti. My soul has never felt like a dried sheaf ready for harvesting - I would not know what that felt like. My soul has felt like laughing when it reads such a synthetic nonsense poem as this. Why would one feel grief at the fall of a leaf, apart from the fact that the two words rhyme? I do not believe in this poem. (Report) Reply

  • Joey Valenzuela (9/22/2010 11:22:00 PM)

    indeed, the fall of the leaf is not as grievous at all.....

    the narrator presented the fall of the leaf as an image to describe a humane characteristic of a person...
    every person can be happy and sometime sad, even grieving...the narrator compared the grief of a man to the season (autumn) ...

    grieving is not a weakness at all, although we feel frail when we're are grieving....
    grieving is a powerful emotions that makes a man stronger.....(although too much is not good)

    the falling of the leaves is like the rolling of the tears in our cheeks....
    and it is power...it means we are human...we are powered emotionally....and we are living....

    the dead cries no more.....so we are fortunate we still can cry....grieve...

    and autumn, therefore, doesn't mean grief but power... (Report) Reply

  • Michael Harmon (9/22/2009 11:55:00 PM)

    Not sure of the form of this. It does, however, seem to be a variation of a French form, the rondeau. (Report) Reply

  • Baby Girl (9/22/2009 4:09:00 PM)

    Autumn is my favorite time of year! ! The leaves falling ever so gently down, almost like rain..
    but without the wetness! !
    Very introspective poem to me on the season that beckons winter, 'Come.' (Report) Reply

  • Thirupathi Narayan (9/22/2009 1:11:00 PM)

    I would take the autumn in a total different way......
    Shedding of leaves gives the sign of start of new fresh life... Spring is on its way.... (Report) Reply

  • Ravi A (9/22/2009 12:58:00 PM)

    Every season leaves an impact on the mind of every person. It is as if seasons have a say on our mind. Yes, definitely. Here, the poet sees Autumn in the above way. As trees shed out their leaves, it gives the reminder of death - very symbolic. Truly philosophical. As one would look at the bare tree branches, one can be driven to sadness. In cenemas, when a character is in a desolate condition, often a barren tree will also be included in the scene. This shows the general mood that a barren tree creates in the mind of man. The poet's mind is also within the same framework. (Report) Reply

  • Kevin Straw (9/22/2009 6:00:00 AM)

    'Languid grief' I have problems with - a grief which has no energy?
    And how is this grief 'laid on' the heart - grief is not a covering of the heart, it is the metaphorical heart itself suffering.
    Does the brain 'beat' - the heart does, but the brain?
    How can a soul feel 'like a dried sheaf'? It is not enough to say 'dried sheaf', there must be a characteristic of the soul equal to a characteristic of a dried sheaf to make the metaphor work. 'Her eyes were like stars' compares her eyes' sparkle with that of stars, and is a true, but hackneyed, metaphor. Had Rossetti ever felt a dried sheaf, and does he say now that his soul feels like that?

    An idea expressed well technically (apart from above) but which lacks creative bite. I really do not believe in this poem. I hate to say it is dishonest, but it does not strike me as honest. It reads like a word game the poet played in his study. Am I being unfair? (Report) Reply

  • Mo. (9/22/2007 2:51:00 AM)

    Nice Song!

    ''But Autumn is not my cup of Tea;
    Best in Spring! '' (Report) Reply

Read all 13 comments »

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