First autumn morning

Murakami Kijo

‘First autumn morning’ by Murakami Kijo explores the process of aging and how one learns more about their parents as one gets older. 


Murakami Kijo

Nationality: Japanese

Murakami Kijo (1865-1938) was a Japanese poet that wrote haikus in the 20th century.

Despite facing personal tragedy when his house burned down in 1927, with all his possessions, Kijo's poetic legacy endures.

Key Poem Information

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Central Message: Time passes for everyone

Speaker: A son

Emotions Evoked: Anxiety, Contentment, Empathy

Poetic Form: Haiku

Time Period: 20th Century

This is an incredibly relatable poem that is concerned with aging, change, and the passage of time.

In this poem, the mirror becomes a powerful symbol of introspection and self-discovery, revealing not only physical similarities but also the inheritance of traits and characteristics passed down through generations.

First autumn morning
Murakami Kijo

First autumn morning:the mirror I stare intoshows my father's face.


First autumn morning’ by Murakami Kijo reflects on the arrival of autumn and the impact it has on their perception of themselves.

The poem begins with the speaker describing the setting as a “first autumn morning,” implying the transition from summer to fall. This change in season serves as a metaphorical backdrop for the central theme of self-reflection and personal identity.

As the speaker gazes into a mirror, they are confronted with an unexpected image: their own reflection resembles their father’s face. This realization carries a deep emotional weight, suggesting a profound connection between the speaker and their father. 

Structure and Form 

First autumn morning’ by Murakami Kijo is a three-line haiku that was originally written in Japanese. The poem was later translated into English (which is the version analyzed below). 

The classic haiku form has five syllables in the first and third lines and seven in the second line. But, these elements have disappeared in this English version of the poem due to the translation. 

Literary Devices 

In this poem, the poet makes use of a few different literary devices. For example: 

  • Imagery: can be seen in lines like “First autumn morning” that evoke a specific series of senses in the reader. 
  • Enjambment: can be seen in the transition between lines two and three. The poet intentionally cut off line two in order to
  • Allusion: while not mentioned directly, this poem is about the ways in which the speaker has aged. They’re no longer the child or young man that he used to be. Now, he resembles his father more than he would’ve ever imagined. 

Detailed Analysis 

Line One

First autumn morning:

In the first line of this poem, the poet begins by setting the scene, something that readers of haiku are going to be very familiar with. Haiku poets generally like to make it clear what time of year it is or to generally describe, in one way or another, where the haiku is taking place. 

Autumn is a common setting for haiku due to its deep symbolism. It usually signifies change, transition, aging, and the end of prosperity. In this case, the poet uses autumn to symbolize aging (something that’s revealed in the third line). 

The choice of “first” emphasizes the significance of this particular autumn morning, suggesting that it holds a special meaning or significance. It could imply that this is the first time the speaker has experienced autumn in such a profound way, or it could represent a milestone or turning point in their life.

Line Two 

the mirror I stare into

The second line of the poem, “the mirror I stare into,” shifts the focus from the external environment to the speaker’s introspective act of gazing into a mirror. This line introduces a reflective and contemplative element to the poem that’s continued into the next one. It suggests that the speaker is engaging in self-examination or self-observation. 

The speaker is staring deeply into the mirror and is entirely consumed by this action. This line uses enjambment, meaning that it cuts off before its natural stopping point, and readers have to go to the third line in order to figure out what exactly is going on in the poem. 

Line Three 

shows my father’s face.

The third line of the poem, “shows my father’s face,” reveals a surprising and significant revelation in the speaker’s self-reflection. It indicates that the image they see in the mirror strongly resembles that of their father.

The mention of “my father’s face” introduces the theme of familial connection and inheritance. It suggests a strong resemblance between the speaker and their father, not only in physical appearance but potentially also in character traits, mannerisms, or other qualities.

The revelation of the father’s face can carry various symbolic implications. It may symbolize a sense of lineage, highlighting the speaker’s place within a generational continuum. It can also represent a realization of the influence and impact that parents have on shaping one’s identity.

The line also emphasizes the fact that the speaker has reached an age where they feel as though they’re starting to look like their father. 


What is the significance of autumn in the haiku poem ‘First autumn morning?’

The significance of autumn in the haiku poem ‘First autumn morning’ lies in its symbolic associations and emotions. Autumn is often regarded as a season of transition, change, and the passage of time. It carries profound symbolic weight and, in this poem, represents the passage of time from one’s youth to an older age. 

What is the theme of the poem? 

The theme of the poem ‘First autumn morning’ is change and aging. The speaker confronts their own reflection in a mirror on an autumn morning. This act of self-observation leads to a significant realization that their own face bears a strong resemblance to that of their father.

What is the tone of the poem

The tone of this poem is contemplative. The speaker quietly dwells on the fact that he can see himself growing older and more similar, in appearance, to his father. 

What is the central purpose of this poem? 

The purpose is to highlight the way that time progresses onward, eventually leading to children aging and eventually resembling their parents. 

Similar Poetry 

Readers who enjoyed this poem should also consider reading some other 

  • Autumn moonlightby Matsuo Bashō – is a traditional haiku that’s beautiful written about the seasons.
  • Over the wintry’ by Natsume Sōseki – is a short, evocative poem that captures the desolate beauty of a winter landscape. 
  • On Agingby Maya Angelou – explores what it means to get old. The speaker is honest and direct, confronting the reader with the truth about age.

Poetry+ Review Corner

First autumn morning

Enhance your understanding of the poem's key elements with our exclusive review and critical analysis. Join Poetry+ to unlock this valuable content.
Murakami Kijo (poems)

Murakami Kijo

Murakami Kijo's poetry, including the haiku 'First Autumn Morning,' showcases his skill in capturing moments of introspection and self-discovery. His concise and evocative style allows readers to delve into the depths of human experience and explore themes of personal identity and familial connections. Through this poem, Kijo invites readers to contemplate the profound influence of lineage and the significance of self-reflection in navigating life's complexities.
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20th Century

This poem exemplifies the themes and techniques prevalent in 20th-century poetry, but it is not a well-known poem. It does reflects a shift towards introspection and the exploration of personal identity, common in modernist and post-modernist poetry.
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The poem is a good example of the tradition of Japanese poetry. It captures the concise and evocative nature of Japanese poetic forms but is not a super well-known example of this form of poetry. Despite this, it is well worth reading for its powerful message.
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The theme of aging is subtly hinted at in 'First Autumn Morning.' The arrival of autumn and the passing of seasons allude to the progression of time and the inevitable process of growing older. The speaker's introspective gaze in the mirror suggests a contemplation of one's own aging and the changes that come with it.
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Coming of Age

The poem touches upon the theme of coming of age as the speaker confronts their own reflection and recognizes the resemblance to their father's face. This moment of self-awareness suggests a shift in the speaker's perception of their own identity and a realization of their place within the continuum of generations.
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The act of staring into the mirror in 'First Autumn Morning' can be seen as a metaphorical journey of self-discovery. The speaker embarks on an inner quest, exploring their own identity and connections to their father. This journey is one of introspection and reflection, where the speaker confronts the past and contemplates the paths that have led them to the present moment.
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While not explicitly mentioned, the poem subtly conveys a sense of underlying anxiety. The introspective act of staring into the mirror and the recognition of the father's face may evoke a mix of emotions, including uncertainty, existential concerns, and the weight of familial expectations.
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While the poem carries a reflective tone, it also hints at a sense of contentment or acceptance. The arrival of autumn and the recognition of familial connections in the mirror can be seen as moments of reconciliation and finding peace with one's identity and place in the world.
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This poem touches upon empathy through its exploration of familial connections. The recognition of the father's face in the mirror suggests a deep emotional bond and shared experiences between the speaker and their father.
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The poem touches upon the theme of adulthood through the speaker's recognition of their own reflection resembling their father's face. This realization suggests a maturation process and the coming to terms with one's own identity as one grows into adulthood.
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The arrival of autumn symbolizes a transition from one season to another, mirroring the changes and transformations that occur in life. The speaker's act of self-reflection and the recognition of their father's face suggest a personal change and a deeper understanding of one's identity.
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Fathers and Sons

The relationship between fathers and sons is a significant theme in the poem. The recognition of the father's face in the mirror signifies a deep connection and shared lineage between the speaker and their father. This theme explores the influence of paternal figures on personal identity and the intergenerational bonds that shape individuals.
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Growing Up

The theme of growing up is interwoven throughout the poem. The speaker's gaze into the mirror signifies a moment of maturity and self-awareness. The recognition of the father's face suggests a coming to terms with one's own identity and the complexities of growing up.
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This is a haiku poem characterized by its brevity and focus on a singular moment or observation. Haiku is a traditional form of Japanese poetry that often captures nature's essence and highlights the transient nature of existence. This haiku exemplifies the use of concise and impressively meaningful language.
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Emma Baldwin Poetry Expert
Emma graduated from East Carolina University with a BA in English, minor in Creative Writing, BFA in Fine Art, and BA in Art Histories. Literature is one of her greatest passions which she pursues through analyzing poetry on Poem Analysis.

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