And Is It Not Enough?

what falling leaves disclose

what falling leaves disclose

I have been wanting for a while to make an Autumn song and somehow catch in sound the feel I have for falling leaves and for what is cleanly revealed in the naked shape  of the trees. At the same time I have been reflecting again on why one writes at all. So much is beautifully shaped already and given by God, why should one try to shape it again in writing? And yet each day begins again the urge and calling to renew the rich connection, the covenant of word and world, to make, and then to walk, the airy bridge between our island minds, so that another self can say, ‘you feel it too’!. This poem rises out of all these things; an Autumn song that also feels its way, I hope, into the mystery of what is written, on the leaves of pages and of trees.

The photo is one I took on the banks of the Wear in Durham on the day this poem was composed. as usual you can hear me read the poem, and its preface, by clicking on the title or the ‘play’ button

And Is It Not Enough?


And Is it not enough that every year

A richly laden autumn should unfold

And shimmer into being leaf by leaf,

It’s scattered ochres mirrored everywhere

In hints and glints of hidden red and gold

Threaded like memory through loss and grief,


When dusk descends, when branches are unveiled,

When roots reach deeper than our minds can feel

And ready us for winter with strange calm,

That I should see the inner tree revealed

And know its beauty as the bright leaves fall

And feel its truth within me as I am?


And Is it not enough that I should walk

Through low November mist along the bank,

When scents of woodsmoke summon, in some long

And melancholy undertone, the talk

Of those old poets from whose works I drank

The heady wine of an autumnal song?


It is not yet enough. So I must try,

In my poor turn, to help you see it too,

As though these leaves could be as rich as those,

That red and gold might glimmer in your eye,

That autumn might unfold again in you,

Feeling with me what falling leaves disclose.


Filed under imagination, literature, Poems

19 responses to “And Is It Not Enough?

  1. Sublime; the final stanza for love’s unfolding and disclosing each to the other.

  2. So very beautiful! It tapped into something deeper inside of me and brought forth tears. Thank you.

    • malcolmguite

      Thanks Katie, its good to know the poem worked that way, for that muracle of connection from mind to mind in the feel for beauty us itself the subject of the poem 🙂

  3. Adeline Berg

    t’s scattered ochres mirrored everywhere

    In hints and glints of hidden red and gold

    Threaded like memory through loss and grief,
    So needed help in seeing that – just have faced one death and are heading into another in a short time. Thank you

  4. Beautiful poem, well wrought. I like the form also and the gentle, unobtrusive rhymes and half rhymes. Well read too. Thanks Malcolm.

  5. Love love love this. I feel exactly like that watching the leaves fall and rain down on this hill in Tennessee where I’m writing. Shoot me your post address so that I can mail you a book I set aside for you.
    Thanks for this. Lovely.

  6. Love the poem and love the question you ask in your introduction to it. Why write at all? Perhaps Luke’s Mary has the answer? We “magnify” the Lord? Blessings Malcolm! I give thanks for you every time I read your work.
    Patrick (Trinity Church Boston)

    • malcolmguite

      Thanks Patrick. Yes I think one reason for writing is to reflect back to our Father what we see of his world with thanks and praise.Indeed, an earlier draft of this poem ended with the image of a child holding an autumn leaf up to his father and saying ‘Look!’

  7. Pingback: When the outside comes inside

  8. I just love this sonnet. To me, in a discussion with my partner, this seems to represent being content with what we have and with each other; and that we are content with what God graces us with each day tgeough our senses and our hearts. Wonderful 💜

  9. Crystal Hildreth

    Hi Malcolm! I met you in Ambleside at the CMI conference last May. I live in Abu Dhabi and am missing the colors of autumn. I searched the Internet for some poems to read and fill my mind with beautiful color. I needed to feel the beauty in my heart. I found this poem. You have taken me with along with you on your walk and I am thankful. Thank you for giving me this gift of red and gold. It is enough.

  10. Kathleen Butler

    Thank you so much, such beauty brings tears to my eyes

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