How Autumn Can Supercharge Your Descriptive Writing

1Autumn is the best time to sharpen your descriptive writing skills. Stop whatever you’re doing! Follow this advice from poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Grab a notebook and pen, get outside someplace quiet, and write.

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.

Let these poems guide you. Think about how the words transform into pictures and create specific moods.

b7de59d48ed1cea22aa91ad133972040.jpgLi Po, known as a poetic genius, lived in China during the Tang Dynasty. He wrote many of his poems while wandering the Yangtze River Valley. In this short poem, carefully-chosen words create a powerful image.

Autumn River Song
The moon shimmers in green water.
White herons fly through the moonlight.
The young man hears a girl gathering water-chestnuts:
into the night, singing, they paddle home together.

86378e3310293fcc925b5362baa288d6--goldfish-autumn-fallThe 20th century Austrian poet, Rainer Maria Rilke, is well-known for his lyrical style. Notice his use of comparisons.

The leaves are falling, falling as if from far up,
as if orchards were dying high in space.
Each leaf falls as if it were motioning “no.”

And tonight the heavy earth is falling
away from all other stars in the loneliness.

We’re all falling. This hand here is falling.
And look at the other one. It’s in them all.

And yet there is Someone, whose hands
infinitely calm, holding up all this falling. 

700-00681295And, finally, study this poem by the contemporary British poet, Michael Shepherd. How do all five senses combine to create an image for readers?

Autumn Gardener

Gathering rosebuds with my rake; 
the wooden tines scraping
over the gravel path
bringing a token of order 
to the autumn of a life; 

rosebuds, nipped at the neck
by frost; dead leaves
curled like begging or covetous hands, 
coloured like rich memories, red, orange, brown, 
dry husks, spilt seed, 
now crisp, eager to surrender to the fire, 
its scented smoke curling like a pyre against
a cold blue sky now welcoming
a tidy offering up; 
how clean, how sharp the autumn air

478586728.jpgdarker under the trees
the leaves still wet
limp and flat as hope defeated, 
pressed together as
words not meant, or
something missed; 
next year the leaves
will remember innocence, 
the tree broader, eager, 
brown as wisdom tipped with exploratory green.

gathering rosebuds with my rake
the season with its woodsmoke, evocative, 
tempting to metaphor, hovering, 
a garden of lost meaning; 
no longer, this cooling autumn, a construction, 
but speaking its own seriousness.

how clean, how sharp the autumn air 
scented by surrender.
(© Michael Shepherd)

Don’t let autumn slip away.
It’s like a fire burning hot, awakening the senses,
fueling the desire to write.
But . . . it won’t last forever.


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1 Comment

Filed under Autumn, Creativity, descriptive writing, Inspiration, Poetry, Uncategorized

One response to “How Autumn Can Supercharge Your Descriptive Writing

  1. They make it look so easy, don’t they? I guess the key is practice, practice, practice.


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