Poetry Sunday: Falling Leaves and Early Snow by Kenneth Rexroth

The leaves are falling or have already fallen and I've heard rumors of snow in the more northerly climes. Around here we are still easing slowly through autumn with occasional returns to summer-like days. But it's almost December and we usually get our first frost sometime around the middle of the month. And on the long nights, the owls cry in the sifting darkness, and the moon has a sheen like a glacier. 

Falling Leaves and Early Snow

by Kenneth Rexroth

In the years to come they will say,
“They fell like the leaves
In the autumn of nineteen thirty-nine.”
November has come to the forest,
To the meadows where we picked the cyclamen.
The year fades with the white frost
On the brown sedge in the hazy meadows,
Where the deer tracks were black in the morning.
Ice forms in the shadows;
Disheveled maples hang over the water;
Deep gold sunlight glistens on the shrunken stream.
Somnolent trout move through pillars of brown and gold.
The yellow maple leaves eddy above them,
The glittering leaves of the cottonwood,
The olive, velvety alder leaves,
The scarlet dogwood leaves,
Most poignant of all.
In the afternoon thin blades of cloud
Move over the mountains;
The storm clouds follow them;
Fine rain falls without wind.
The forest is filled with wet resonant silence.
When the rain pauses the clouds
Cling to the cliffs and the waterfalls.
In the evening the wind changes;
Snow falls in the sunset.
We stand in the snowy twilight
And watch the moon rise in a breach of cloud.
Between the black pines lie narrow bands of moonlight,
Glimmering with floating snow.
An owl cries in the sifting darkness.
The moon has a sheen like a glacier.


  1. We have already had our first frost here. I still love all the seasons but I love winter less as I get older. Though this poem reminds me about some of the things that I love about it.

    1. I find that there are things to love about every season, including winter.

  2. Rexroth shows a great understanding of the changes that take place where I live. it's wonderfully evocative how he talks of "disheveled maples hang over the water." They are bare now, but mere weeks ago they were indeed disheveled.

    1. He paints a very vivid picture of this season in northern areas.

  3. This brought tears to my eyes. I was able to visualize some of the scenes painted in this poem, and I even heard an owl outside my house a few days ago.

    1. Owls are usually more vocal at this time of year when they are getting ready to nest. I often hear them at night now.

  4. We watched the moon rise last evening and even saw some stars.

    1. Watching the moon with its glacial sheen is always a calming activity for me.


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