When we think of autumn, trees immediately come to mind. Bright shades of yellow, orange, and red paint forests with a shock of color. The grounding, magical experience of walking through a forest as leaves fall reminds us of an important truth: we are inextricably tied to nature—emotionally, physically, and spiritually.
It’s no surprise, then, that trees, some of the most vital and complex organisms on Earth, often inspire poignant poetry. To help you process transitional life experiences and feel grounded this fall, we’ve compiled a list of nature poems with tree metaphors.
“Autumn Song” by Sarojini Naidu
Sarojini Naidu’s “Autumn Song” is a melancholy yet empowering ode to fall. She compares falling leaves, a fragile and intricate part of a tree, to her heart’s lost dreams. By ending the piece with ‘And why should I say behind?’ Naidu expertly communicates the transitional nature of autumn. Healing and learning to let go of past seasons allows us to move forward, similar to the way a tree sheds its dying leaves to make room for new growth.
Like a joy on the heart of a sorrow,
The sunset hangs on a cloud;
A golden storm of glittering sheaves,
Of fair and frail and fluttering leaves,
The wild wind blows in a cloud.
Hark to a voice that is calling
To my heart in the voice of the wind:
My heart is weary and sad and alone,
For its dreams like the fluttering leaves have gone,
And why should I stay behind?
“The Autumn” by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Elizabeth Barrett Browning clearly captures seasonal change in her poem aptly titled, “The Autumn Poem.” Using vivid imagery, Barrett Browning transports the reader to a natural scene transitioning from summer to fall, which the poet employs as a metaphor for human emotions and life experiences.
Go, sit upon the lofty hill,
And turn your eyes around,
Where waving woods and waters wild
Do hymn an autumn sound.
The summer sun is faint on them —
The summer flowers depart —
Sit still — as all transform’d to stone,
Except your musing heart.
How there you sat in summer-time,
May yet be in your mind;
And how you heard the green woods sing
Beneath the freshening wind.
Though the same wind now blows around,
You would its blast recall;
For every breath that stirs the trees,
Doth cause a leaf to fall.
“Fall, Leaves, Fall” by Emily Brontë
In “Fall, Leaves, Fall,” Emily Brontë celebrates changing seasons, specifically autumn transitioning to winter. Exploring the cycles of nature, Brontë provides keen observations of natural elements and her corresponding emotions.
Fall, leaves, fall; die, flowers, away;
Lengthen night and shorten day;
Every leaf speaks bliss to me
Fluttering from the autumn tree.
I shall smile when wreaths of snow
Blossom where the rose should grow;
I shall sing when night’s decay
Ushers in a drearier day.