Tuesday, September 25, 2012

poetry: on autumn

This blog is two parts. Make sure you do both things!

1. The poem "The Exam" by Joyce Sutphen introduces the season of fall. I found this poem appropriate seeing as how this weekend brought the first days of fall. In a short paragraph, discuss the picture she paints of this season. What are her feelings toward it? What images are created in your mind? What associations does she make with the season? At the end of your paragraph, identify the tone of this poem (e.g., tone: reminiscent).

2. Then, write your own poem. What are your feelings toward fall? What associations do you make with this season? In mimicking Sutphen, introduce the poem with your picture of what fall looks like to you, then reveal what fall means to you (i.e., for Sutphen, fall is associated with fall classes, school, taking exams, her parents' marriage and anniversary...).

This blog is due tomorrow, Wednesday September 26 by 8am.


  1. The most vivid picture that Sutphen paints is with the trees and the colors she writes. I think everyone thinks of the color of the leaves changing when they think of fall. After describing the outdoors, Sutphen also connects the fall with the one set of school work and exams. Students are doing homework, and taking tests while sniffling softly. Then she recollects her parents’ anniversary which like takes place during the fall season. The main tone of the poem is mostly reminiscent. When fall comes the author remembers all of these things.

    The darkness comes a couple of hours early,
    As well as the moon and stars.
    The bonfires provide the warmth
    All the couples can be found cuddling under the stars.
    Sweatshirts and jackets are unpacked from the closet,
    And fishing poles come down from the attic.
    Then the feast of thanksgiving,
    The part we look forward to most.

  2. The feelings I have when reading the poem are bittersweet. Fall is my favorite season, so I have a lot of memories as well as newly painted images Joyce Sutphen created in my mind. First off, fall is apple season. Some of the many memories I have of fall are the times I went with my family and friends up to Yates’ Cider Mill, like every other Michiganian in the Lower Peninsula, for fresh apple cider. You couldn’t find cider anywhere else like Yates’. I remember travelling through Traverse City, which is other worldly during the fall. The colors and beauty are at many times breathtaking. With a light, peaceful breeze, all the small villages and towns welcomed you in with their warming, light painted on the street. All of my main sports were in the winter (hockey, snowboarding) so fall symbolized a fresh start. With Christmas, Halloween, and Thanksgiving just around the corner in the next few months fall brought an unstated understanding of unity and optimistic hope to the people of my township. Another memory was in Tennessee; basically it was our second home. I remember driving through the wondrous Smokey Mountains in the fall which if were described would be extremely understated. Fall is like the beginning of nature’s vacation. The bears, squirrels and skunks (thankfully) all make their final preparations before they fall asleep for all of winter. It’s as if all of nature has worked hard all year long, and now it’s time for the trees, and animals to take some time off, a much need respite. Sutphen’s poem reinforced my memories of unity and beauty found in fall. My favorite phrase in poem is “such sweet sorrow”. The irony of death bringing life and beautiful is in itself beautiful. Sutphen associates unity, and love with the fall season.

    The poem I am submitting is an edited version of an OLD song I wrote. Oddly enough, with all my appreciation and love for the fall season, my song/poem shows a cold, biting, reflectively sad side of the fall season. This song was written through the eyes of an old man who is reflecting upon his life and realizing how it is dying off like the autumn leaves around him. The title is Grandfather Clock:

    Keep falling down, Keep falling down, Keep falling down,
    All around.

    Watching the leaves sing today,
    Wondering how time slipped away,
    One long stroll down memory lane,
    Brings back all of the past pain.

    Like rusted clockwork, your gears freeze up when you’re alone.
    One wife who died and three children, who said their goodbyes,
    A long time ago.

    Leaves fall from trees like the tears from your cheeks fall for you.
    You try to sleep everyday and all night to get rid of this
    Winter fright.

    Keep falling down, Keep falling down, Keep falling down,
    All around.

  3. Joyce Sutphen's opening lines perfectly capture the essence of autumn (everywhere except Florida though, where it’s always green). She writes, “The trees are in their autumnal glory (red, yellow-green, orange)..." This vivid image describes the array of colors that appear before winter's death steals their glory away. As Sutphen ponders at the beauty surrounding her, her thoughts turn towards her parents' marriage, she draws a parallel between the trees' "autumnal glory" and to her parents' six decades of a successful marriage. Sutphen's parents are clearly very old, and much like the leaves on the trees, are nearing death. But, just as the trees display "their autumnal glory", so too do her parents show how successful and rewarding their long marriage has been. Sutphen feels respect at the autumnal season and her parents, as both show how beauty grows with age.

    In my own mind, this poem reinforces the memories of travelling to Virginia during autumn last year. As Sutphen described the trees adorned in their array of colors, I could not help but call to memory the small-town church in Virginia where my aunt was married. This tiny church was overpowered and covered completely by an enormous maple tree, whose leaves were bright gold with specks of orange and red. As this was my first time viewing a tree adorned in all these colors, I was in awe. These emotions of awe and joy at viewing such beauty are evoked again as I read the opening lines.

    Sutphen writes how autumn causes her to think of two things: students finishing min-terms in a stuffy school house and of her parents' marriage. These are the major associations to autumn she writes of. The tone of this poem would be that of reverence at the beauty of nature, which is reflected in the beauty of her parents' marriage.

    My Poem:
    Gold and crimson, circling down
    Falling, ever falling.
    Their splendor, short-lived,
    but glorious. They once adorned the crowns
    of the trees, yet winter's spell always looms before them,
    like a phantom.
    But winter has not yet come, and so,
    autumn's reign of glory shall reveal
    how fragile life, like each delicate leaf,
    floats down below to its final rest.

  4. Joyce Sutphen portrays the coming of fall in a positive manner showing that it is a time of change and renewal while illustrating the continuation of life by giving the example for her parents. She feels nostalgic as she remembers her parents’ love for her as well as each other. By using words such as “autumnal” and “sweet sorrow”, Sutphen gives a vivid image of fall and it’s connotation of change. The tone of this poem could be described as somewhat sentimental.

    The cool breeze has come
    While the humid has left.
    My lungs freeze up
    Inside my chest.
    The branches are bare
    That once held their leaves
    Now the colors have fallen
    Down from those trees.
    Children prepare
    For Halloween night
    As the birds from the north
    Come into our sight.
    Family comes from near and far
    To share their past stories and speak from their hearts.

  5. The first picture that comes to mind when reading Joyce Sutphens's poem The Exam, is of leaves falling that are orange, red, yellow, and gold. By using "autumnal glory" she conveys her appreciation for fall and the beauty that it brings with the cooling of the weather and the changing of the leaves. Her association with this season are the mid-term exams. Nobody likes those. She associates little colds that have the students snifflingas they take their test. The tone of this poem is redolent of fall.
    My poem:
    All the vivid colors. Red, orange, yellow, and gold.
    Laying on the ground ready to be collected,
    Oh, the fun, oh, the jumping,
    the crisp air that smells of fall,
    the bite of the wind,
    the laughter caused by squishy pumpkin guts,
    and the joy of the candy to come.

  6. In "The Exam", Joyce Sutphen paints a wonderfully studious yet joyous picture of fall in the readers mind. The identification of the colors of the leaves gives a warm notion, and the "sniffing softly" shows the crisp, clean air everyone loves. To Sutphen, she equates this magical time of year with exhausting exams and also her parents anniversary. Two seemingly contrasting events are brought together by both being tests, whether of knowledge or of faith. She shows her parents love in an endearing way telling of their many meals and nights together. The altogether tone of this passage is nostalgic.

    The air is crisp and thin;
    It is time to get my jackets in.

    Friends are running about getting ready;
    Homecoming is approaching steady.

    Outside, the bonfire is crackling lightly;
    Everyone is snuggled close and tightly.

    The joy of baking
    All of the wonderful things we are making.

    The lovely scent of cinnamon candles,
    Sitting high above the mantles.

    Beautiful sunsets on the horizon;
    My day they do brighten.

    Life is so fulfilling;
    With just that little bit of chilling.

  7. Joyce Sutphen’s “The Exam” vividly portrays the season of autumn. Sutphen enjoys autumn because it makes her think of her parent’s relationship together over 60 years. As I read “The Exam”, instantly pictures of leaves changing flood my brain. Sutphen associates the color of the leaves as well as students sniffling in class with autumn. Sutphen uses a tone toward autumn that is sentimental.

    Poem: The Great Autumnal
    Orange, yellow, red,
    Monsters and zombies run through my head.
    The air is getting colder,
    Excuse me sir, as I wipe my nose on your shoulder.
    Halloween, my birthday, thanksgivin’,
    No doubt it’s a great time to be livin’.

  8. Sutphen creates an image of fall in her poem, “The Exam." In the poem, things like students taking an exam and her parent's marriage remind her of the feelings of fall. I think that the speaker likes reminiscing on these comforting attributes of fall. When I read this poem, I think of my own school days and the fall memories that I have made over the years: fall festivals, leaves, candy corn, and pumpkin pie. The author associates school and marriage to fall, perhaps because school begins during fall and the long marriage reminds the speaker of comfort and hominess. The tone of the poem is nostalgic and reflective.

    Its That Time Again:

    That first day of fall.
    It is always the same
    But always on a day unnumbered.
    The crisp morning air, characteristic
    Of these happy days.
    One will soon see the pumpkin patches
    Springing up through the towns,
    And the leaves begin to fall on the trees
    That are not evergreen.
    When my mother buys candy corn,
    Which is strange for one who hardly every buys candy,
    And when evening sunsets become more beautiful,
    And running becomes a delight,
    The hay is cut on the field across from my home,
    And evening gatherings turn into bonfires,
    Then I know that it is fall.

  9. In this poem Joyce Sutphen paints a picture for the reader of exactly what fall means to her personally. To her fall means the chilling of the air and all the other climatic changes that fall brings. It also means exams and tests, cramming late into the night. She also is reminded of her parent's marriage and she admires their bond, presumably annually, in the fall. In her poem, Sutphen makes me as the reader see these images and I begin to think of things I personally associate with fall. The tone is fondly pensieve, somewhat reminiscent.

    The weather teases us with slightly cooler days
    Followed by classic Florida scorchers.
    A small monster settles in my belly
    Preparing to sleep out the season
    And rising for battle every Friday night.
    The fields are clean, shining
    My cleats are out of the closet
    I slap on my helmet
    Let out a shout
    And run