Autumn grieving

A terzanelle for the dverse prompt. This one was a bugger.


This night is full of aging autumn grieving,

With winds that bend the threshing poplar boughs,

Their nerveless fingers golden leaf-wealth thieving.


To the sky, sown bright with swans and ploughs

Of constellations wheeling girt about

With winds that bend the threshing poplar boughs,


I raise my face to watch the season’s rout.

Wild eddies twist and chase the fallen leaves

Of constellations wheeling girt about,


Drenched in that silver shooting starlight weaves.

Like feathers torn from some poor wind-tossed bird,

Wild eddies twist and chase the fallen leaves.


If stars had voices would their songs be heard,

Or would the echo flutter lost in space

Like feathers torn from some poor wind-tossed bird?


The owl is king of moonlight, glides with grace

Amid the gold of aging autumn’s grieving

His call an echo fluttering in space,

While winter creeps, earth’s summer leaf-wealth thieving.

Published by

Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

39 thoughts on “Autumn grieving”

  1. My pantoum was a bugger too!
    Your terzanelle is expertly done, Jane. I love the ‘sky, sown bright with swans and ploughs’ and the wild eddies that ‘twist and chase the fallen leaves’. My favourite lines are:
    ‘If stars had voices would their songs be heard,
    Or would the echo flutter lost in space’?

  2. An excellent piece. I like the 5th stanza–it speaks to me. Lots of wonderful word-smithing and lovely lines here; smile.

  3. “With winds that bend the threshing poplar boughs,

    Their nerveless fingers golden leaf-wealth thieving.

    To the sky, sown bright with swans and ploughs

    Of constellations wheeling girt about”
    These lines manifest your acute atunement with nature. That last line alone, wow.

      1. There’s something not right about humans who have no need to kill to live getting out there year-round and shooting. I started to watch a “documentary” on wild mustangs last night and had to turn it off. It was supposed to be about 4 college friends riding horses from AZ to Canada, using mustangs they’d tamed for a few months. Along the way they gave info on how the BLM says the ground will support half (240k) of the existing mustangs and the rest are corraled out in the middle of nowhere just standing there. Got to have land for the beef cattle ya. Also these little rich kids treated the horses as if they were disposable, being so reckless with them they kept getting injured; then they would just have more trailered in and have the injured ones hauled away. Humans *will* have a day of atonement. I wish it wasn’t so, but I don’t see us stopping the rampage on our own.

      2. When I read what you wrote, cockroaches came to mind. They will reproduce to fill every available space, but they do it because it is their nature to survive no matter what. We really are like roaches. At some point this planet will be crawling on every available space with humans, unless something interrupts it. Have you ever seen the movie, “Pandorum”? It is a horror movie. I won’t tell you what happens but this is what I foresee us heading towards.

      3. I was listening to a radio programme this evening about the latest mob rule phenomenon sweeping France at the moment, thousands out on the streets, blocking roads and supermarkets, no clear grievances except that they’re against everything, low wages, taxes, high petrol prices, village school closures, cottage hospital closures, almost everything in fact. The main problem, according to this demograph was that there weren’t enough people. To keep schools and hospitals open you need a certain population density. You can’t have a school for every village with three families in it. The solution is more people. Fill the countryside up with people then there will be a need for schools and hospitals. She was serious.

      4. 😦 is this what is meant by simple minds? when i look at my property tax statements, 2/3 of it goes to the schools. why???? so they can build new football stadiums and maintain the rabid competitive spirit that makes us the world’s schoolyard bully? so much so wrong…

      5. I have never understood why we are supposed to be horrified by the lack of sports (competitive professional sports) facilities. Why we are not providing hot house environments for thirteen and fourteen year old kids to turn them into amoral morons on a sports field. We won’t have world class sportsmen (who cares about the women) we won’t win gold at the Olympics. And?
        At least the French don’t have the impression they’re top nation 🙂

  4. Jane, Like I said, this is absolutely stunning. Quiet and reflective, but broad as all creation in its scope. Probing questions… I especially love the question:

    “If stars had voices would their songs be heard,

    Or would the echo flutter lost in space

    Like feathers torn from some poor wind-tossed bird?”

    There is so much to think about, we are the material of recycled stars, in a way we are stars with voices, at least we are a corner of the universe that has achieved some semblance of being aware of itself. Even in regards to the current stars, they do have voices, they are heard, astronomy researchers monitor the sound waves and frequencies, but in terms of a meaning in that voice, that is for us to decide. More pertinent than in any of these considerations is the quiet descriptive beauty of your frame. This is one of my favorites from you or any poet, and it nestles in in my world therefore with Wanderer’s Nachtlied by Goethe, Der Panther by Rilke, and The Excesses of God by Jeffers. If I am effusing, it is because you have whirled me girt about with this one. thank you Jane. (this especially seems in the same dimension as the Goethe for some reason).

    1. I really appreciate your ‘effusions’ 🙂 Some poems are hard to write technically, getting the sound to match the message, and I worried away at this until it got close to what I wanted.
      The stars do have voices, you’re right, and I wonder if their message is a warning. We seem to listen to what suits us, picking through the airwaves to find one that salves our consciences. The stars are cold, bright, and presumably above partisan politics and our petty squabbles. We ought to listen. We might learn something.
      Thanks again 🙂

  5. I so appreciate that you persevered! What a lovely wild and serene, magical, musical tour of the cosmos. And yet it remains so firmly rooted in our beautiful Earth. And, you have the skill to make this appear effortless, thus adding immeasurably to our enjoyment..

    1. Thank you, Christine! I’m pleased you enjoyed the poem. It wasn’t effortless,but if the joins don’t show too much, it worked 🙂
      I tried to find your poem through the dverse site earlier, but the link doesn’t work for me.

  6. This is ambitious and beautifully crafted, I have never tried this form, so I’m in awe of what you’ve done here. I love the way the poem wriggles and turns, bobs and weaves..JIM

    1. Thanks Jim. It turned out to be a bigger project than I anticipated. I’ve written these before and they’ve not given so much trouble. I’m glad you like the result though 🙂

  7. Beautiful poem, Jane. I agree with others that it seems effortless. It is pure magic, and you got stars and moon and the owl in it–and poplars, too. I imagine the stand that Monet painted over and over again.

  8. Love that final stanza Jane. The call of an owl on a fall or winter night is so magical. Used to sit and listen to the great white owls calling through the old growth on a winter night – magical!

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