Late November

I’m getting this month’s review in a day early, as I have plans for December and didn’t want this to get lost amongst them!

Regular followers and readers will know that I posted a lot in November – just the fifteen posts, which is almost unheard of for me, except when I’m on a ‘post every day’ stint. The first post of the month was the previous month’s review:

October Road

which was living under a title borrowed from a James Taylor song. Any ideas where this month’s title comes from? All will be revealed at the end, so bear with me.

As usual, there were Tuesday Tunes posts each week – four this month, beginning with:

Tuesday Tunes 33: More Seventies Singles

which gave us music from Black Sabbath, Roxy Music, Jimmy Cliff, Bachman Turner Overdrive, Boston and Free.

Then came:

Tuesday Tunes 34: Seventies Singles Encore

which featured The Cars, The Moody Blues, The Beatles, Fleetwood Mac, Mott The Hoople and Don McLean.

For the next two posts I moved into albums, starting with:

Tuesday Tunes 35: Seventies Albums

which included Bruce Springsteen, Bad Company, George Harrison, Steely Dan, Gerry Rafferty and Warren Zevon. Not a bad bunch! The second selection of albums followed in:

Tuesday Tunes 36: More Seventies Albums

with music from Paul Simon, Rod Stewart, Fishbaugh Fishbaugh and Zorn, Poco, Nick Drake and The Eagles – showing my growing leanings at that time towards American music.

To keep the musical theme going I also posted several posts which weren’t on Tuesdays, just to show that I’d worked out that other days of the week exist. In order of posting, these were:

Bonfire Night Tunes

November Poems And Songs

As its title suggests, that one contained more than music, as did the next post with music:

Selfies 2020

which was a reworked, expanded version of a post originally written in 2015.

There followed a straight reblog of a post from last November, marking its first birthday and the fact that it is the post which, by some distance, has clocked up the most views this year:

Under The Covers.

I then posted a couple of musically themed posts for two dates which feature high in the American calendar during November:

Songs Giving Thanks

and:

Black Friday.

Just to ring the changes, there were also some posts that didn’t include music – yes, I can do it sometimes! The first of these was a reblog of a post from five years ago in which I mused on our inability to learn from history:

What Now?

I also posted to mark Remembrance Sunday, as I always do: this is a day that should never be allowed to be forgotten. The post went by the imaginative title of:

Remembrance Sunday 2020.

My other two November posts were both on a mental health theme, and were both updated reworking of posts from a number of years ago. The first of these was:

Let’s Work Together – Again

and the second was:

There Is Still Time To Change.

That completes the round up of what, by my standards, was a busy blogging month. I hope this has been helpful in reminding you of anything you missed or would like to see again. To end the month, which now includes this as its sixteenth post, I promised you that I would let you know where I ‘borrowed’ my title from. It was this, from one of the loveliest voices this country has ever known:

That song was on Sandy’s album The North Star Grassman And The Ravens, but I’m sharing this stripped down solo performance as I think it really brings out the beauty of the song.

I’ll see you again tomorrow for the start of December, and something a little different from what I have done for the past 36 Tuesdays. Stay tuned!

November Poems And Songs

I have posted several times in recent years about what a dull month November is to me, illustrating this view with words from people are have far better writing skills than I possess. I thought that maybe, as I have been on a bit of a roll with music posts recently, I should add in a couple of songs to the mix, so that’s what I’m doing for this year’s version. Here in England we are nearly halfway through our second national lockdown, and various other restrictions are in place in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, so what better way is there to bring some cheer to our lives than by sharing some miserable words?

To begin with I’m sharing again the post I wrote last year. This was one of my better liked pieces – probably because a lot of the words weren’t my own – but I expect that many of you won’t have seen it before, and will have forgotten it if you have. This is a slightly edited version of that effort:

I’ve always thought of autumn as my favourite season, but that is based on late September going into October, when the leaves turn all those wonderful shades of gold and brown. I’m afraid that my positivity about the season tends to evaporate when November rolls around: 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 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.

Before I share any with you, take a look at this from Google:

image

I must admit I hadn’t realised that death was a criterion by which poets were judged – that Robin Williams movie has a lot to answer for. I have posted a couple of times previously about how poets see this month but felt it was about time I shared a new set with you – some I’ve chosen before, but others are new to my selections.

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

No sun – no moon!
No morn – no noon –
No dawn – no dusk – no proper time of day.
No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease,
No comfortable feel in any member –
No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,
No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds! –
November!

He 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 that main reference source I mentioned earlier: 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 (?!) William Topaz McGonagall seems to have been particularly taken with bad news stories from this month. One thing most of his poems have in common is that their length is inversely proportional to their artistic merit. I’ll save you the ordeal, but one of his November offerings is his poem about the Funeral of the Late Ex-Provost Rough of Dundee: all fourteen verbose stanzas of it! It came as no surprise to me to learn that audiences used to throw fruit and vegetables at him when he performed his poetry in public. He doesn’t sound as though he’d have been much fun at darts night with the lads in the pub, but at least his narrative style makes a change from poetic perceptions of the changing seasons. If you’re feeling particularly masochistic do look that poem up – and be grateful to me for not inflicting it on you!

Thomas Hardy is probably better known for his novels, but he also wrote poetry. Indeed, his final novel, Jude The Obscure, was published in 1896, and from then until his death in 1928 he only published poetry – he is rated by many as one of the best twentieth century British poets. Here’s an offering from him, entitled At Day-Close In November:

The ten hours’ light is abating,
And a late bird flies across,
Where the pines, like waltzers waiting,
Give their black heads a toss.

Beech leaves, that yellow the noon-time,
Float past like specks in the eye;
I set every tree in my June time,
And now they obscure the sky.

And the children who ramble through here
Conceive that there never has been
A time when no tall trees grew here,
A time when none will be seen.

There is the beginning of a theme developing here, I think: it’s rather bleak, isn’t it! 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 I first posted some November poems. Let’s face it, if you’d heard the name Adelaide Crapsey you’d remember it, right? 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 feel it.

Having had my interest piqued by my Google search, I thought it might be an idea to seek out the work of some of those aforementioned ‘dead poets.’ Firstly, here is Robert Frost’s offering on this month, which is called My November Guest:

My Sorrow, when she’s here with me,
Thinks these dark days of autumn rain
Are beautiful as days can be;
She loves the bare, the withered tree;
She walks the sodden pasture lane.

Her pleasure will not let me stay.
She talks and I am fain to list:
She’s glad the birds are gone away,
She’s glad her simple worsted grey
Is silver now with clinging mist.

The desolate, deserted trees,
The faded earth, the heavy sky,
The beauties she so truly sees,
She thinks I have no eye for these,
And vexes me for reason why.

Not yesterday I learned to know
The love of bare November days
Before the coming of the snow,
But it were vain to tell her so,
And they are better for her praise

When I do count the clock that tells the time,
And see the brave day sunk in hideous night;
When I behold the violet past prime,
And sable curls all silver’d o’er with white;
When lofty trees I see barren of leaves
Which erst from heat did canopy the herd,
And summer’s green all girded up in sheaves
Borne on the bier with white and bristly beard,
Then of thy beauty do I question make,
That thou among the wastes of time must go,
Since sweets and beauties do themselves forsake
And die as fast as they see others grow;
   And nothing ‘gainst Time’s scythe can make defence
   Save breed, to brave him when he takes thee hence.
And to share another member of the Dead Poets Society, this is the familiar first verse of John Keats’ To Autumn:
My second song choice will probably be unfamiliar to you, as will the singer:
Another example of the metaphor of rain and November representing a lost love: I think it is beautiful. If you don’t know Gabrielle Aplin I can recommend her highly – she writes lovely songs to go with her lovely voice, this being typical of her work.
(PS The spacing and alignment of parts of this post look odd on my screen, though they are fine in the draft version. I hope it all looks alright for you. Believe me, I’ve edited and re-edited, but nothing seems to change! A bit like November, really.)