Poetry Friday : Autumn Colours


It’s September! That means it’s almost time for the most wonderful season of all – autumn! Alas here on the Wet Coast autumn typically means the start of the seemingly-endless rainy season, but September is still a truly beautiful month, with bright, blue skies and crisp days. It’s one of my favourite times of the year, bringing to mind feelings of fresh new starts and new promises.

To help get us in the autumnal mood, here’s a beautiful Japanese children’s song that brings to mind mountainsides lit with a blaze of orange, red, and yellow leaves.

紅 葉

Traditional Song

秋の夕日に 照る山紅葉(もみじ)
濃いも薄いも 数(かず)ある中に
松をいろどる 楓(かえで)や蔦(つた)は
山のふもとの 裾模様(すそもよう)

渓(たに)の流(ながれ)に 散り浮く紅葉(もみじ)
波にゆられて 離れて寄って
赤や黄色の 色さまざまに
水の上にも 織る錦(にしき)


Autumn colors on the mountain lit by the sunset,
Deep colors and pale ones,
A kimono skirt pattern of pine, maple and ivy trees
Decorating the mountain’s base.

In the valley stream, scattered autumn leaves
Tremble on the waves alone and together,
Various shades of red and yellow
Forming a woven brocade on the water’s surface.



Japanese is written using three different writing systems – katakana, hiragana and kanji. Kanji characters resemble Chinese characters (織 or 錦, for example), and a single character can mean a distinct word. Mastering kanji is hard, which is why Japanese texts often also include the hiragana equivalents for each kanji symbol (or at least the less common ones), so that children (and less literate foreigners) can still read them! It’s a real life saver, especially when you’re travelling. It also means that I will likely be reading Japanese at the level of a preschooler for the rest of my life. 😉

Now, hurry up, fall! We’ve missed you!

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  • Reply Matt Forrest Esenwine

    Love this! My eldest daughter wants to be a Japanese interpreter, and is learning to read it, so I’ll have to share this with her.

    September 8, 2017 at 6:38 pm
    • Reply Jane the Raincity Librarian

      That’s awesome, or should I say, すごい !

      September 8, 2017 at 7:34 pm
  • Reply Poetry Friday: Flashlights and Dinosaurs and Roundups – oh, my! – Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme

    […] Jane, the Rain City Librarian, has autumn on the mind with a Japanese poem about fall. […]

    September 8, 2017 at 6:49 pm
  • Reply Kay McGriff (@kaymcgriff)

    I’m impressed you can read Japanese! I had the pleasure of working with a group of Japanese college students one summer while I was working on my ESL endorsement for my teaching license. Autumn is my favorite season of the year, and this poem captures so much of what I love about it.

    September 8, 2017 at 9:19 pm
    • Reply Jane the Raincity Librarian

      Well, I can read baby books and simple picture books so far, but I keep practicing! 😉

      September 8, 2017 at 10:39 pm
  • Reply cvarsalona

    Jane, how wonderful that you provided a poem in two languages. The imagery of the poem allows me to visualize the scene. While loving summer and its relax mode, I always wait for fall to grace my steps. I would like to use the poem you shared at my fall gallery, compliments of you.

    September 8, 2017 at 11:36 pm
  • Reply Linda Mitchell

    That photo is gorgeous! A perfect pairing to the poems. I’m in love with a kimono skirt in pine. That’s such a great line. Enjoy September. We are thinking of apple picking in VA. You?

    September 9, 2017 at 10:37 am
  • Reply lindabaie

    I love hearing about the different levels of Japanese, Jane, and this poem is lovely about my favorite season. That line about the “kimono skirt pattern” is wonderful.

    September 9, 2017 at 1:14 pm
  • Reply dmayr

    Jane, how wonderful that you are learning Japanese! Do you have a teacher?

    September 9, 2017 at 3:44 pm
    • Reply Jane the Raincity Librarian

      My partner and I have been taking evening classes through a local college! It’s been a great way to challenge the old brain cells! 🙂

      September 11, 2017 at 1:41 am
  • Reply maryleehahn

    I can picture that woven brocade, that kimono skirt.

    And, hey — reading Japanese at a preschool level is WAY more than I’ve got (which is…nothing)! Be proud!!

    September 9, 2017 at 11:12 pm
  • Reply katswhiskers

    That picture is a perfect match for the poem. Such vibrant colours – though in the case of the pic, it’s a kimono of moss decorating the tree’s base.

    September 10, 2017 at 2:55 am
  • Reply Brenda Davis Harsham

    My hubby works for a Japanese company. He takes Japanese once a week, and he has for years, but I don’t think he will get past preschool either. On the other hand, he can travel to Japan and manage.

    September 11, 2017 at 3:00 pm
  • Reply Michelle Kogan Illustration, Painting & Writing

    Wonderfully rich poem, infused with autumn colors and textures. Your image complements the song! I love the bold colors of the fall, and this all reminds me of my two very close friends who live in Japan, thanks for all Jane.

    September 14, 2017 at 6:12 pm
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