Poetry Friday: A Crown of Autumn Leaves by Annie Finch

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Poetry Friday is hosted by Diane @ Random Noodling

Fall in the North East is a glorious time.  We are just about past peak by now, most of our trees have shed their Fall reds and golds, and it is time to rake them up and cart them off to be recycled into mulch.  I was saving this poem for a Poetry Friday at this time of year, mostly because it seemed so apt.  I also loved the structure, and have a feeling that the poets among our PF crew would be able to tell me what the specific form might be.

But the poem’s reference to “mabon” also intrigued me. Mabon, it turns out, is the Autumnal Equinox celebrated by the Pagan and Wiccan traditions on September 21st.  I spent an hour or so researching Mabon on various wiccan websites, tracing its connection to (among others) the Druids, the myth of Demeter and Persephone, and the appearance of the Dark Mother – clothed in black and wielding a sickle and scythe.  I loved the rhythm of this poem, it cadence of incantation, and all the autumnal colors woven in.  Perhaps next September 21st. I will think of it again and remember to decorate my mantle with apples corn stalks, squash and root vegetables…then again, perhaps not!

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A Crown of Autumn Leaves

by Annie Finch

For Mabon (fall equinox), Sept. 21

Our voices press
from us
and twine
around the year’s
fermenting wine
Yellow fall roars
Over the ground.
Loud, in the leafy sun that pours
Liquid through doors,
Yellow, the leaves twist down


as the winding
of the vine
pulls our curling
voices—
Glowing in wind and change,
The orange leaf tells
How one more season will alter and range,
Working the strange
Colors of clamor and bells
In the winding
of the vine
our voices press out
from us
to twine
When autumn gathers, the tree
That the leaves sang
Reddens dark slowly, then, suddenly free,
Turns like a key,
Opening air where they hang
and the winding
of the vine
makes our voices
turn and wind
with the year’s
fermented wine
One of the hanging leaves,
Deeply maroon,
Tightens its final hold, receives,
Finally weaves
Through, and is covered soon
in the winding
of the vine—
Holding past summer’s hold,
Open and strong,
One of the leaves in the crown is gold,
Set in the cold
Where the old seasons belong.
Here is my crown
Of winding vine,
Of leaves that dropped,
That fingers twined,
another crown
to yield and shine
with a year’s
fermented wine.
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11 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: A Crown of Autumn Leaves by Annie Finch

  1. “Holding past summer’s hold,” I love this line. There are some great images in this poem. Thanks for introducing it to us, Tara.

  2. Another leaf poem, love it, Tara! And this line fits our Colorado aspen so wonderfully: “Yellow fall roars
    Over the ground.” I also love that yellow liquid pouring through doors. Beautiful.

  3. Tara, l love the color references and this phrase,
    ” … the tree
    That the leaves sang
    Reddens dark slowly, then, suddenly free,
    Turns like a key,
    Opening air where they hang…”

  4. All of that winding and swirling…just like the fallen leaves in today’s wind!

    Your photo is perfect, and i love your fall blog header! Lovely!!

  5. “and the winding
    of the vine
    makes our voices
    turn and wind
    with the year’s
    fermented wine”

    These long “i” sounds throughout prolong the poem and remind me of the slow twisting of falling leaves. Beautiful poem.

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