A favorite Jane Yolen poem

Hi everyone,

Today I want to show you the poem I chose to feature from Jane Yolen’s book, RING OF EARTH, A CHILD’S BOOK OF SEASONS, published by Harcourt in 1986. Jane says it is out of print but will come back in digital form. I look forward to it.Jane Yolen

Here is what I said about her poem, “Autumn Song of the Goose.” Here Jane gives full flavor to the point, the majesty, and the dangers of the annual migratory flight. Her masterful use of language (“…dying land/where the headless stalks/of flowers bend”; “Along the road of air/where the strong winds blow”; “where the trees rise up like fists”) makes fascinating reading for readers of any age.

And now, the poem.

by Jane Yolen

Rise up, rise up, my mate,
from the chilly land,
for a rich, warm smell
as subtle as a poem
rides the air
and calls us home.

Kerhonk. Kerhonk. Kerhonk.

Rise up, rise up my friends,
from the dying land
where the headless stalks
of flowers bend
in their earthen tombs
and there are left but a few
of summer’s brittle blooms.

Kerhonk. Kerhonk. Kerhonk.

The sun hangs between mountains,
the air is crisp and cold.
It is the time of flight.
Rise up, rise up, my mate, my friends,
into the piercing light.
Along the road of air
where strong winds blow,
along the gray tunnel
lit by the pale moon,
gray sky above,
gray mud below,
and the long winds singing
their mournful old tune.
Then down to the lake
to keep our feet warm.
Nibble and shake,
nibble and shake,
a few more miles across autumn
a few more miles safe
from winter’s cold alluring charm.

Kerhonk. Kerhonk. Kerhonk.

Into shallow sleep we fall,
while all about
the lullaby call
murmurs across the changing land.
Even in sleep
night whispers its warnings:
fox and stoat,
and the hunter with his gun,
blindly waiting in the early mornings.
Rise up, rise up, my friends,
and mount the singing air.
Over the changing autumn fields,
past ponds veiled in mists.
Past trackless mountains
where the trees rise up like fists.
Past houses, past towns
where small people live small lives.
It is morning, my mate,
my friends. Rise up. Rise.

Kerhonk. Kerhonk. Kerhonk.

We fly wingtips apart.
No compass, no compass but the heart.

Kerhonk. Kehonk. Kerhonk.

(c) by Jane Yolen, all rights reserved


5 comments on “A favorite Jane Yolen poem

    • Thanks, Jane. There is a great deal to admire about this poem. It’s also a reminder of Jane Yolen’s enormous talent.

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