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Past Masters – Thomas Hood [1799 – 1845]

November 7, 2011

This is the first of an occasional series celebrating poets of the past, whose work still strikes a chord today.

To ‘master’ something means to become skilled through much practice. The term ‘master’, therefore, is by no means confined to men, but also women. Poet and playwright, Thomas Hood was born and lived in London. At the time of his writing, the city was prone to thick fogs that, mixed with smoke, became ‘smogs’, making visibility very poor. This added considerably to the usual greyness of a November day and inspired this seasonal poem:

No!

No sun – no moon!
No morn – no noon-
No dawn – no dusk – no proper time of day –
No sky – no earthly view –
No distance looking blue –
No road – no street – no “t’ other side the way” –
No end to any Row –
No indications where the Crescents go –
No top to any steeple –
No recognitions of familiar people –
No courtesies for showing ’em –
No knowing ’em!
To travelling at all – no locomotion,
No inkling of the way – no notion –
No go – by land or ocean –
No mail – no post –
No news from any foreign coast –
No park – no ring – no afternoon gentility –
No company – no nobility –
No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease,
No comfortable feel in any member –
No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees.
No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds.
November!

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