Trees usually turn colour and shed foliage as the temperature drops, but this year many species began to lose their leaves in August because of a shortage of water. However, the real autumn is now with us – a time that has inspired poets across time and cultures. Sudie Stuart Hager was Idaho Poet Laureate from 1949 up to her death in 1982. Her best-known collections were Earthbound, published in 1947, and Beauty Will Abide (1970). Her poems dealt with the rhythms of life and with the changing seasons. This is a reflection on autumn in the high deserts of Idaho.
Poets say that love in April bloom,
And petal-showered lovers feel the same;
I thought so, too, in spring but now I know
Love is the autumn leaf’s breathtaking flame.
Autumn still retains her charm
As she walks the stage;
But blood-red paint cannot, for long,
Conceal the lines of age. The Prodigal
October, reckless heir to autumn wealth,
Spends lavishly. Our dazzled eyes behold
His palace roof of sapphire, gold-leaf floors.
Rich draperies of bronze and flame. He pours
A mellowed heady wine and drinks to madness;
He showers coins with riotous autumn gladness.
Then, one bleak day, we wake to find October
Sans raiment, gold, sans everything – and sober;
His gay mood changed to deepest melancholy,
But, oh, the world is richer for his folly.