Sonnet XXV: Ode to Autumn

Of shadows long and light of rarest gold,
Abundant bringer, harvester of land,
Receive, O Autumn, as in days of old,
This wreath of olive from a poet’s hand!

I sing the praises of your crimson hue
With purple lips that kissed your blushing wines;
I drink your skies of undiluted blue
Beneath your rustling groves and patient pines;

For, you are summer ripened, spring reversed,
The warmth of winter’s youth, the cordial sun
That held me once, before joy’s grape was burst
In sorrow’s press, and youth’s false dreams undone,

O rich intoner of our Mother’s grief
Who chants her tears in every falling leaf!

From Sonnets for Christ the King

Note from the Poet: In New Mexico, whose heritage of lyric poetry is rooted in the ancient alabados, or Spanish hymns of praise preserved by the Penitentes, the Blessed Virgin Mary was very often venerated as Nuestra Señora de los Dolores, or Our Lady of Sorrows. Within what English critic James Sale has called the “cosmos” of the Sonnets for Christ the King, the couplet of Sonnet 15 is a “tragic foreshadowing” of the Passion depicted in the last 14 sonnets of the sequence, as “our Mother’s grief” refers to the Mater Dolorosa directly. “Spring reversed” is also an allusion to the Passion. Biographically speaking, the poet’s earthly mother, as a girl, attended Mass at the19th-century church of Our Lady of Sorrows in Las Vegas, New Mexico, making the final couplet a double reference, both deeply personal and Mariological at the same time.


Joseph Charles MacKenzie is a traditional lyric poet, First Place winner of the Scottish International Poetry Competition (Long Poem Section). His poetry has appeared in The New York Times, The Scotsman (Edinburgh), The Independent (London), US News and World Report, Google News, and many other outlets. He writes primarily for the Society of Classical Poets (New York).


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7 Responses

  1. David Hollywood

    This is marvelous, beautiful, touching poetry. It made me feel very appreciative of the world and nature.Thank you.

  2. Bruce E. Wren

    I have known Mr. MacKenzie for a long time, and likewise have been acquainted with his poetry. I have always admired his work, but I must admit to be pleasantly shocked to see how, with the passing of time, it seems to become even more refined, direct, unblemished with eccentricities or exagerrations. Truly superb poetry.

  3. David Watt

    This sonnet flows naturally from beginning to conclusion, similar to the passage of a delightful autumn day.

  4. Satyananda Sarangi

    Hello Sir.

    The smooth flow, the cadence, the impeccable rhythm makes this one such a piece capable of keeping the readers glued for they would wish to read on and on.

    Best wishes & Regards

  5. B. S. Eliud Acrewe

    Reminiscent of Keats, the sonnet reaches for his rich phrasing; spring reversed is a nice touch.


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