And Is It Not Enough? A Poem on National Poetry Day

what falling leaves disclose

what falling leaves disclose

October 7th is National Poetry Day. Falling as it does in Autumn, the most poetic of the seasons, I thought I might repost this Autumnal poem.

I had 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 had 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

13 responses to “And Is It Not Enough? A Poem on National Poetry Day

  1. Elaine Murray

    Malcolm. Your poetry has absolutely helped me to ‘see it again’. Thank you for your words. Happy Poetry Day!

  2. Judy dinnen

    That is wonderful Malcolm! Such depth !

  3. Daniel Kelly

    In each cycle of the seasons is the lesson of our individual impermanence, yet the ongoing life of the soul that animates us. Beautifully captured here, happy Poet’s Day Malcolm!

  4. Veronica Jane Lamont

    Lovely poem to read as I set off on a hard journey. Thank you Malcolm.

  5. julielwitmer

    Lovely 🍁 Elizabeth Goudge thought that autumn was the most sympathetic season, and that’s seen here as well.

    Looking forward to hearing your session at Hutchmoot again this weekend! I’ve included a couple of your Psalm responses in my gardening talk this year. They have been such an inspiration and quieting meditation for me in the past 6 months. Thank you!

  6. Thomas O'Connor

    Thank you!

  7. Charity Y Brown

    Ah!! Beautiful! One of the things I’m trying as a parent to show my children is the unique beauty of each season. My favorite thing of winter (living too far south for the regular beauties of snow- Alabama) is the black filigree of bare trunks and limbs set against the brilliant pinks and oranges of a winter sunset. The “inner tree revealed” as you put it. Happy sigh. On a metaphorical level, I’ve been in a “winter” season. Scarcity of so many of the people/things that bring me life. I’m learning that calling scarcity “enough” (Phil 4:13), is not giving up on the sure hope of abundance. Your poem makes me want to consider what beauty and truth is revealed in growth of personal character during my winter… Thoughts for me to chase today…

  8. josheri1

    I think my favorite poems this time of year is Rainer Maria Rilke’s « Herbst »
    We learned it by heart in my eccentric German teacher’s class in high school. It connects the fall of the year with the inner heart of man.


    Rainer Maria Rilke

    Die Blätter fallen, fallen wie von weit,
    als welkten in den Himmeln ferne Gärten;
    sie fallen mit verneinender Gebärde.
    Und in den Nächten fällt die schwere Erde
    aus allen Sternen in die Einsamkeit.
    Wir alle fallen. Diese Hand da fällt.
    Und sieh dir andre an: es ist in allen.
    Und doch ist Einer, welcher dieses Fallen
    unendlich sanft in seinen Händen hält.

  9. Stephen Hasper

    Thank you for helping autumn come just a bit to me in Southern California.

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