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Featured Poem: November Skies by John Freeman

Written by Rachael Norris, 25th November 2019

This week's Featured Poem is November Skies by John Freeman, chosen by The Reader's Learning and Quality Leader, Amanda Boston.

Than these November skies
Is no sky lovelier.

Holding back my first response of “No way! I don’t like this time of year” I was surprised at the reaction of several people that the poem left them with a positive feeling. There was delight in the sound of the poem: of the musicality of the varying rhythm and rhyme. We wondered at the effect of the shorter lines such as Of colour creep and how the sound seemed to fill the rest of the line. How does colour “creep”? like a subtle spy!  Brilliant. It spoke to someone of standing patiently looking up and being attentive to the slightest change in the sky; or of noticing the subtle changes in a friend’s face as an emotion emerges.

So much to enjoy and ponder over in this poem as we read and reread.

  Changing that high austerity to delight

  Till even the leaden interfolds are bright.

We struggled with these lines What was high austerity? We had heard of it, too often, in a political context but how does it relate to colour or emotion. Most of us could relate “leaden interfolds” to a feeling of being suffocated and weighted down by stuff…

Wonderful to have this poem celebrating November skies when it is tempting to succumb to the pervasive greyness and ignore "The loveliest,/Faint purple flushes of the unvanquished sun."

November Skies

Than these November skies
Is no sky lovelier. The clouds are deep;
Into their grey the subtle spies
Of colour creep,
Changing that high austerity to delight,
Till ev'n the leaden interfolds are bright.
And, where the cloud breaks, faint far azure peers
Ere a thin flushing cloud again
Shuts up that loveliness, or shares.
The huge great clouds move slowly, gently, as
Reluctant the quick sun should shine in vain,
Holding in bright caprice their rain.
And when of colours none,
Not rose, nor amber, nor the scarce late green,
Is truly seen, --
In all the myriad grey,
In silver height and dusky deep, remain
The loveliest,
Faint purple flushes of the unvanquished sun.

by John Freeman

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