First World War Poetry Digital Archive

November

NOVEMBER SKY by EDWARD THOMAS

November's days are thirty: November's earth is dirty, Those thirty days, from first to last; And the prettiest things on ground are the paths With morning and evening hobnails dinted, With foot and wing-tip overprinted Or separately charactered, Of little beast and little bird. The fields are mashed by sheep, the roads Make the worst going, the best the woods Where dead leaves upward and downward scatter. Few care for the mixture of earth and water, Twig, leaf, flint, thorn, Straw, feather, all that men scorn, Pounded up and sodden by flood, Condemned as mud.

But of all the months when earth is greener Not one has clean skies that are cleaner. Clean and clear and sweet and cold, They shine above the earth so old, While the after-tempest cloud Sails over in silence though winds are loud, Till the full moon in the east Looks at the planet in the west And earth is silent as it is black, Yet not unhappy for its lack. Up from the dirty earth men stare: One imagines a refuge there Above the mud, in the pure bright Of the cloudless heavenly light: Another loves earth and November more dearly Because without them, he sees clearly, The sky would be nothing more to his eye Than he, in any case, is to the sky; He loves even the mud whose dyes Renounce all brightness to the skies.

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