Poetry Sunday: September by John Updike

John Updike (yes, that John Updike, the one who wrote the Rabbit series and The Witches of Eastwick and all those other grown-up books) was a poet as well as a writer of novels. And not only did he write poetry, he wrote some poetry specifically for children. In 1965, he wrote A Child's Calendar which included poems for each month of the year. Here's the one for September.


by John Updike

The breezes taste
Of apple peel.
The air is full
Of smells to feel-
Ripe fruit, old footballs,
Burning brush,
New books, erasers,
Chalk, and such.
The bee, his hive,
Well-honeyed hum,
And Mother cuts
Like plates washed clean
With suds, the days
Are polished with
A morning haze.


I simply love the images in this little poem, even though it doesn't really describe the Septembers that I experience. It is perhaps the September of my imagination.

I imagine breezes that "taste" like apple peel and air that is full "of smells to feel." Ripe fruit, burning brush, new books, chalk - can't you just smell them? And days that "are polished with a morning haze." Now that last one I have!

What Updike is describing, of course, is synesthesia: "the production of a sense impression relating to one sense or part of the body by stimulation of another sense or part of the body," according to my dictionary. But what a wonderful way to introduce that concept to children.


  1. Whatever one wants to call it, it is a great poem!

    1. Updike always was good at descriptions and, in very few words, he has perfectly evoked September.

  2. Yes, it's the fall with smells from the orchards and back to school days. Beautiful poem! :-)


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Poetry Sunday: Don't Hesitate by Mary Oliver

Overboard by Sara Paretsky: A review

The Investigator by John Sandford: A review