Friday, November 18, 2011

Poets Disagree About November

   Poetry Friday Can Be Found and Savored this week at Tabatha Yeatts: The Opposite of Indifference

     A favorite poem of the autumn season is an old one, by Thomas Hood from the mid 1800’s.  It is  titled NO! and can be found at All Poetry.  At that site, I discovered that Hood also published a shorter version of some of the lines from this poem and titled it November, found at PoemHunter.  Even after some research, I could not find which poem came first.  One could argue either way, I suppose.  Perhaps Hood wrote the shorter one, then expanded it.  Or he wrote the longer one, and decided to shorten it for some particular reason.  I’ve loved the poem NO! for years, find it clever and easy for young students to enjoy.  For some parts of our country, this is definitely the weather in the eleventh month of the year.  For us in Colorado, not as much.  We still have our days with NO sun, but not very many.  Here are the first lines of the poem 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,

As I write this, it is sunny and the weatherman predicts 60 plus degrees.  Colorado weather is mostly lovely, but not always, so I intend to enjoy this contradictory day as much as possible.  Our November is often lovelier than the poet Thomas Hood describes.  
On the other hand, a poet special in my eyes and still writing today is Cynthia Rylant, whose words in the picture book In November create lovely pictures worth illustrating, as is done so beautifully by Jill Kastner.  In Rylant's opinion,  trees are standing all sticks and bones.  Without their leaves, how lovely they are, spreading their arms like dancers.  She believes also that Food is better than any other time of the year. And that food has an orange smell.  Even the ending, a blessing of sorts on winter, is sweeter and more optimistic compared to Hood's persistent "NO'S".  
I still enjoy Hood's poem every year, however, but also love Rylant's book.  The poem by Hood is pragmatic instead of nostalgic, and tongue in cheek instead of sentimental.  There is room for both kinds of poetic response in my world of favorites.


  1. I agree! November has both aspects for sure.

  2. Great post! I'm enjoying the different views of November in several posts today. Interesting background discussion on the familiar Thomas Hood lines - thanks for sharing!

  3. I love how you are able to compare/contrast both styles while remaining true to their poetic voice and savoring the feel of each one despite the differences in form and message.

    I particularly love these lines by Rylant:
    trees are standing all sticks and bones. Without their leaves, how lovely they are, spreading their arms like dancers.

    Whenever I travel overseas, I make it a point (if I can) to take photos of trees, for some reason, I have an affinity towards them - must have been born a dryad in a past life. :)

  4. Thank you for two more poems to enjoy and share with my family. I think these will inspire some poetry reading and writing in our house today!


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