November In Verse

I’ve always found November a dull month. The clocks have just gone back, heralding the onset of long, dark evenings, the weather usually starts to turn from autumnal to wintery, and everything seems to be on hold until December arrives, bringing the promise of Christmas and good times with family. Unlike the USA, who have Thanksgiving Day, for us it’s a kind of nothing month. I don’t want to sound down, as I’m not, but that’s the way I think of it. I wondered if I was alone in that so I did some research, particularly into poems about November, to see what others thought of this month.

I found a short poem which summed it up perfectly for me. Before I share it with you, take a look at this from Google:

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I must admit I hadn’t realised that death was a criterion by which poets were judged! The Robin Williams movie has a lot to answer for!

The first poem I’ve chosen to share is by Thomas Hood, and is simply called November:

imageHe doesn’t really like this month either, does he! At least he has shown me that my feelings about November are nothing new: Hood lived from 1799 to 1845 so that poem is almost 200 years old. Encouraged by finding this I thought I’d expand on this theme, as it is fertile ground for some very descriptive (and dismal!) poetry. My apologies to those of you in the Southern Hemisphere, who no doubt are basking in sunshine and increasing temperatures and must be wondering what I’m on about: I guess your equivalent must be May, when autumn turns to winter for you.

Not being poetic myself, and feeling short of inspiration to recall any more poems about this month I returned to my main reference source, Google. If you do the same you’ll appreciate how much dreary doggerel I’ve spared you by not sharing them with you here! The great (?) McGonagall seems to have been particularly taken with bad news stories from this month, but I’m not going to waste our time on those. One poem that did strike me in both its beauty and brevity was this one:

Listen…

With faint dry sound,

Like steps of passing ghosts,

The leaves, frost-crisp’d, break from the trees

And fall.

That is called November Night and is by a poet I’ll admit to not having heard of before. Let’s face it, if you’d heard the name Adelaide Crapsey you’d remember it! I rather like that little poem and didn’t just choose it so that I could mention the poet’s name, honest! I found this biography of her and it seems she lived a brief and tragic life. This poem was written when she was already aware of her own mortality, having been diagnosed with tuberculosis of the brain lining, and this makes it all the more poignant for me. The imagery of passing ghosts assumes extra significance when you know that she is one herself. In just 20 words she has captured perfectly the essence of November, as I believe it.

IMG_0497The weather here for the past few days has been dismal – very wet and windy – and my eye has frequently been caught by brown leaves blowing past my window and coming to rest on my small patio area, awaiting my appearance with a broom. But my practical nature takes over: if I brush them away they’ll only come back, and we have no garden waste collection here so putting them in a sack isn’t an option. So here they sit, and here they stay, for now.

(This post is an edited reworking of two posts previously written in 2014 and 2015 as part of my contributions to #NaBloPoMo. Current regular readers won’t have seen them so I thought them worth sharing again)