Immortal Autumn

By Archibald MacLeish 1892–1982 Archibald MacLeish
I speak this poem now with grave and level voice   
In praise of autumn, of the far-horn-winding fall.

I praise the flower-barren fields, the clouds, the tall   
Unanswering branches where the wind makes sullen noise.

I praise the fall: it is the human season.
                                                                  Now
No more the foreign sun does meddle at our earth,   
Enforce the green and bring the fallow land to birth,   
Nor winter yet weigh all with silence the pine bough,

But now in autumn with the black and outcast crows   
Share we the spacious world: the whispering year is gone:   
There is more room to live now: the once secret dawn   
Comes late by daylight and the dark unguarded goes.

Between the mutinous brave burning of the leaves   
And winter’s covering of our hearts with his deep snow   
We are alone: there are no evening birds: we know   
The naked moon: the tame stars circle at our eaves.

It is the human season. On this sterile air
Do words outcarry breath: the sound goes on and on.   
I hear a dead man’s cry from autumn long since gone.

I cry to you beyond upon this bitter air.

Archibald MacLeish, “Immortal Autumn” from Collected Poems 1917-1982. Copyright © 1985 by The Estate of Archibald MacLeish. Reprinted with the permission of Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

Source: Collected Poems (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1952)

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Poet Archibald MacLeish 1892–1982

SCHOOL / PERIOD Modern

Subjects Time & Brevity, Fall, Living, Nature

 Archibald  MacLeish

Biography

A poet, playwright, lawyer, and statesman, Archibald MacLeish's roots were firmly planted in both the new and the old worlds. His father, the son of a poor shopkeeper in Glasgow, Scotland, was born in 1837—the year of Victoria's coronation as Queen of England—and ran away first to London and then, at the age of eighteen, to Chicago. His mother was a Hillard, a family that, as Dialogues of Archibald MacLeish and Mark Van Doren . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Time & Brevity, Fall, Living, Nature

SCHOOL / PERIOD Modern

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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