Monday, November 14, 2016


                                                     November First

What I love best in autumn is the way that Nature takes her curtain, as the stage folk say.  The banner of the marshes furl, droop and fall.  The leaves descend in golden glory.  The ripe seeds drop and the fruit is cast aside. And so with slow chords in imperceptible fine modulations the great music draws to a close, and when the silence comes you can scarce distinguish it from the last far-off strains of the woodwinds and the horns.
-- Donald Culross Peattie --
from  Autumn:  A Spiritual Biography of the Season

A poetic description which ends with a musical motif.  My only quibble is that I don't think Nature has dropped the final curtain.  Nature is still around; it's just dropped the curtain for the end of  Act Three.  Act Four will be coming soon, and then, of course, it's not the end of the run.  Nature's Play is a long-running one and, while it may vary, it won't end (until the planet is no more). 

On a bitterly cold November night
The snow fell thick and fast---
First like hard grains of salt,
Then more like soft willow buds.
The flakes settled quietly on the bamboo
And piled up pleasingly on the pine branches.
Rather than turning to old texts, the darkness
Makes me feel like composing my own verse.
                                  -- Ryokan --
from Dewdrops on a Lotus Leaf
trans. John Stevens 

Interesting reaction; rejecting the past and turning to the future.   A wish for spring?

November Night

Listen . . .
With faint dry sound,
Like steps of passing ghosts,
The leaves, frost-crisp'd \, break from the trees
And fall.

-- Adelaide Crapsey --
from  Art and Nature:  An Illustrated Anthology of Nature Poetry

I remember those nights growing up in Chicago. 


  1. Not here but in my hometown of Pittsburgh PA, November is that curious limbo between autumn and winter. I sometimes miss the fallen leaves, a few light snow flurries, heavier frosts at night, and the prospect of Thanksgiving (always in danger of being made interesting by early winter weather). Thanks for the evocative poems. Perhaps I will find something from Emily Dickinson tomorrow or Wednesday as "answers" to your November poems. Again, thanks for sending me into my memories of western Pennsylvania Novembers.

    1. R.T.,

      I'm curious to see what a November poem by Dickinson would be.

    2. She writes about autumn, but I cannot yet find any with November specifically, so I'm still searching.

  2. Snow seems more like a curtain to me. All is quiet and still. But, as you say, Fred, not the final curtain.

    1. madamevauquer,

      Yes, I think a curtain is an apt image. And, this one will rise again, some day.

  3. In even a light snow, we can see
    the three thousand worlds.
    Again a light snow falls.

    Lying in my freezing hut, unable to sleep;
    only the quiet roar
    of water pouring over a cliff.

    Late at night, listening to the winter rain,
    recalling my youth -
    Was it only a dream? Was i really young once?
    Ryokan (one robe, one bowl trans. John Stevens, weatherhill publ.)

    i really like Ryokan; he says it so simply...

    1. Mudpuddle,

      Yes, he's a favorite of mine. Classic haiku: a brief moment captured, but still elusive when one looks closely at it.

  4. I like all of the above poems.

    There is something about autumn, it seems to inspire better poems then the other seasons do.

    1. something retrospective; a sadness of chances missed?...

    2. Yes, retrospection, but also underlying this is the hope of the future that Spring brings.

    3. Brian Joseph,

      I think it's that mix of sadness of something ending and the hope of a new beginning.