Peevish Pen

Ruminations on reading, writing, rural living, retirement, aging—and sometimes cats. And maybe a border collie or other critters.

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Location: Rural Virginia, United States

I'm an elderly retired teacher who writes. Among my books are Ferradiddledumday (Appalachian version of the Rumpelstiltskin story), Stuck (middle grade paranormal novel), Patches on the Same Quilt (novel set in Franklin County, VA), Them That Go (an Appalachian novel), and several Kindle ebooks.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Rainy November Days


Last night a ring around the moon foretold today's rain. There’s something starkly beautiful about sodden leafless trees in mid-autumn. Robert Frost, in his “My November Guest,” says it best:

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.
This poem first appeared in A Boy’s Will in 1913. A poem written almost a century ago reaches across the decades to still have meaning today.

I have one memory of Robert Frost, my favorite poet. When I was fifteen, I sat on a table in the biology room at the old William Fleming High School in Roanoke, Virginia, and watched a small black and white TV that someone had brought in. The room was packed with students sitting on tables, chairs, and the floor. Several teachers had brought their classes in to witness the live broadcast of John F. Kennedy’s inauguration, where Robert Frost was to read a poem. It was a bright, windy day and the paper fluttered in his fingers, He squinted against the sun’s glare. I remember his seeing white hair blowing while he struggled to hold the paper still. Finally, he recited “The Gift Outright” from memory: “The land was ours before we were the land’s.”

I graduated from high school in 1963, the year that both Kennedy and Frost died. I don’t remember Frost’s death on January 29, 1963, but I know exactly where I was on the bare November day when Kennedy was shot: on the afternoon of November 22, 1963, I was in Richmond—in my dorm room on the first floor of Founder’s Hall, back when VCU was still RPI. I looked out the window into Shafer Street and noticed a lot of commotion. I went down the back stairs to the cafeteria in Founders Hall basement, and then I heard the news.

That night most of the Founders Hall residents packed into the front parlor and watched the news on the small black and white TV set.

For a while in November 1963, the world seemed black and white. Kind of like rainy late autumn days.

2 Comments:

Blogger Leslie Shelor said...

I was only about four that year, and I don't remember much, except the emotions of those around me. And I remember, in black and white, the Riderless horse in the funeral procession.

10:15 AM  
Blogger CountryDew said...

What an interesting post. I appreciate the way you went from the moon to your memory. Nice.

2:35 PM  

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