Poetry and Music for September

The breezes taste Of apple peel. The air is full Of smells to feel- Ripe fruit, old footballs, Burning brush, New books, erasers, Chalk, and such. The bee, his hive, Well-honeyed hum, And Mother cuts Chrysanthemums. Like plates washed clean With suds, the days Are polished with A morning haze.

“September” by John Updike from A Child’s Calendar. John Updike was a two-time Pulitzer Prize winning novelist born in 1932. He is one of only three authors to win the Pulitzer Prize for fiction more than once. During his career, he wrote an average of one book a year, and published more than 20 novels, a dozen short story collections, poetry and more.

The golden-rod is yellow; The corn is turning brown; The trees in apple orchards With fruit are bending down.

The gentian's bluest fringes Are curling in the sun; In dusty pods the milkweed Its hidden silk has spun.

The sedges flaunt their harvest, In every meadow nook; And asters by the brook-side Make asters in the brook.

From dewy lanes at morning The grapes' sweet odors rise; At noon the roads all flutter With yellow butterflies.

By all these lovely tokens September days are here, With summer's best of weather, And autumn's best of cheer.

But none of all this beauty Which floods the earth and air Is unto me the secret Which makes September fair.

'T is a thing which I remember; To name it thrills me yet: One day of one September I never can forget.

“September” by Helen Hunt Jackson. Born in 1830, Helen Hunt Jackson was an American poet, writer, and activist. She began writing after the deaths of her two sons and her first husband. Her early work was published anonymously. Her poetry was admired by Ralph Waldo Emerson who read several of her poems publicly, and she counted Emily Dickinson among one of her friends. As an activist, she worked tirelessly to improve treatment of Native Americans by the U.S. Government.2

“September” from The Seasons by Tchaikovsky. The Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky wrote The Seasons as a set of twelve piano pieces. “September: The Hunt” was composed to celebrate the Russian hunting season.3


1. More of John Updike’s biography can be found here. 2. More of Helen Hunt Jackson’s biography can be found here. 3. More about Tchaikovsky’s The Seasons can be found here.

Alisa Williams is Spirituality Editor at SpectrumMagazine.org. Photo Credit: Tom Novak / FreeImages.com

If you respond to this article, please:

Make sure your comments are germane to the topic; be concise in your reply; demonstrate respect for people and ideas whether you agree or disagree with them; and limit yourself to one comment per article, unless the author of the article directly engages you in further conversation. Comments that meet these criteria are welcome on the Spectrum Website. Comments that fail to meet these criteria will be removed.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/7627

Alisa Williams enriches and delights us every season with these articles with poetry and music.

Thank you for publishing.


In the Arizona September, you start to see blue jeans. Except for Sabbath, I myself am still in shorts, but milder weather does seem to be a-comin’ in. Alas, though, in neither this month, nor even in November, will we get to the “football weather” I used to love in Ohio and suburban DC.

(But I can play outdoor tennis year-round!)

Thanks, Alisa, for reminding us that there is much to be thankful for. Life without gratitude would feel so hard-edged.