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Tag Archives: loss

Poetry for an elegiac season


Autumn in New England, of course, is spectacular, but it also brings a sense of loss and drawing in, as days shorten, we finally turn the heat on, and batten down the house for winter. We resurrect our jackets, gloves and flannel sheets. The garden slowly dies.

Here is one of my favorite poems about fall, bittersweet like the season. I chose this for my mother’s memorial service program in June; she liked the poem.  Our mutual love of poetry (and reading) was one of our strongest bonds.

from “Autumn Sonnets” by May Sarton

If I can let you go as trees let go
Their leaves, so casually, one by one;
If I can come to know what they do know,
That fall is the release, the consummation,
Then fear of time and the uncertain fruit
Would not distemper the great lucid skies
This strangest autumn, mellow and acute.
If I can take the dark with open eyes
And call it seasonal, not harsh or strange
(For love itself may need a time of sleep),
And, treelike, stand unmoved before the change,
Lose what I lose to keep what I can keep,
The strong root still alive under the snow,
Love will endure – if I can let you go.


Literary lights that went out


gray cat books
In 2014 we lost a number of writers: poets Mark Strand, Galway Kinnell, Claudia Emerson and Carolyn Kizer, and also Ruth Rendell, Mike Nichols, Peter Matthiessen, Kent Haruf, Bel Kaufman, Nadine Gordimer, Thomas Berger and Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I am a big fan of Kinnell’s heartfelt poetry. Love Ruth Rendell’s work, and am glad she wrote so many books. Thomas Berger was a one of a kind novelist and I always liked his mordant humor. And Marquez and Gordimer illuminated the world for me in different ways.

Here is a January poem by Andrew Periale of New Hampshire, from a beautiful 2015 calendar called A Woodland Sketchbook, with illustrations by his wife Bonnie.


No mistaking
your metallic scold
on a cold morning.

Ticks me off–
I feel an outsider
in my own woods!

But how can I stay angry
at that blue, that bit of sky–
white-flecked, black-banded

little thief! You are that student–
chatty, voice that cuts glass.

How I miss you when
the hawk’s successful,
trees suddenly silent.