One poem for each day of the year, based on days of birth and death

7 November – Leonora Speyer

Leonora Speyer


Suddenly flickered a flame,
Suddenly fluttered a wing:
What, can a dead bird sing?
Somebody spoke your name.

Suddenly fluttered a wing,
Sounded a voice, the same,
Somebody spoke your name:
Oh, the remembering!

Sounded a voice, the same,
Song of the heart’s green spring,
Oh, the remembering:
Which of us was to blame?

Song of the heart’s green spring,
Wings that still flutter, lame,
Which of us was to blame? —
God, the slow withering!

Leonora Speyer, Lady Speyer (née von Stosch)
(7 November 1872 – 10 February 1956)
American poet and violinist



6 November – Jonas Lie

Jonas Lie – poet


Oh, thousands of times have we played on the shore,
And caught little fishes – dost mind it no more?
We raced with the surf as it rolled at our feet,
And the lurking old Merman we always did cheat.

‘Yes, much shalt thou think of at my lullaby,
Whilst the billows do rock and the breezes do sigh.
Who sits now and weeps o’er thy cheeks? It is she
Who gave thee her soul, and whose soul lived in thee.

‘But once as an eider-duck homeward I came
Thou didst lie ‘neath a rock, with thy rifle didst aim;
In my breast thou didst strike me; the blood thou dost see
Is the mark that I bear, oh! beloved one, of thee.’

Jonas Lauritz Idemil Lie
(6 November 1833 – 5 June 1908)
Norwegian novelist, poet and playwright
Considered one of the Four Greats of 19th century Norwegian literature


5 November – Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Ella Wheeler Wilcox – poet


A trusting little leaf of green,
A bold audacious frost;
A rendezvous, a kiss or two,
And youth for ever lost.
Ah, me!
The bitter, bitter cost.

A flaunting patch of vivid red,
That quivers in the sun;
A windy gust, a grave of dust,
The little race is run.
Ah, me!
Were that the only one.

Ella Wheeler Wilcox
(5 November 1850 – 30 October  1919)
American author and poet
Her most enduring work was ‘The Way of the World’, which contains the lines:
‘Laugh, and the world laughs with you; weep, and you weep alone.’


4 November – Hannah Weiner


I say something lightly
and you pick up the word.
You don’t hear me jumping, shouting,
screaming, praying for you to know
I’m not okay.
You don’t know that the walls will cave in and
the door will lock and what I need then is for you to stop
trying to please all of everyone else and just
listen to me and my heart –
it’s beating so frantically because
it knows what you used to do and how you just knew and how
I wouldn’t need to jump or scream or shout because
you’d just hear me. Now maybe you’re immune.
Maybe you know I’ll never truly be okay so maybe
you gave up
and my heart’s still beating so fast waiting for you to hear my uncertainty
in each word that I speak,
in each sentence I refuse to repeat,
in each phrase that tries to compete with the jumping and screaming and shouting.
but you just won’t listen.

Hannah Adelle Weiner
(4 November 1928 – 11 September 1997)
American poet


3 November – Oodgeroo Noonuccal


What if you came back now
To our new world, the city roaring
There on the old peaceful camping place
Of your red fires along the quiet water,
How you would wonder
At towering stone gunyas high in air
Immense, incredible;
Planes in the sky over, swarms of cars
Like things frantic in flight.

Oodgeroo Noonuccal
(3 November 1920 – 16 September 1993)
Born Kathleen Jean Mary Ruska
Australian poet, political activist, artist and educator
Campaigner for Aboriginal rights


8 October – Marina Tsvetaeva

Marina Tsvetaeva – poet


No longer now the same god-given bounties
Where now no longer the same waters glide.
Then fly, and hasten, doves of Aphrodite,
Through the great gates that sunset has swung wide.

And I on the chill sands shall lie, receding
Into the dimness of unreckoned days…
Like the shed skin the snake is coldly eyeing,
My youth, outgrown, has shrunk under my gaze.

Marina Ivanovna Tsvetaeva
(8 October [O.S. 26 September] 1892 – 31 August 1941)
Russian and Soviet poet


7 October – James Whitcomb Riley

James Whitcomb Riley – poet


There! little girl; don’t cry!
They have broken your doll, I know;
And your tea-set blue,
And your play-house, too,
Are things of the long ago;
But childish troubles will soon pass by. –
There! little girl; don’t cry!

There! little girl; don’t cry!
They have broken your slate, I know;
And the glad, wild ways
Of your schoolgirl days
Are things of the long ago;
But life and love will soon come by. –
There! little girl; don’t cry!

There! little girl; don’t cry!
They have broken your heart I know;
And the rainbow gleams
Of your youthful dreams
Are things of the long ago;
But Heaven holds all for which you sigh. –
There! little girl; don’t cry!

James Whitcomb Riley
(7 October 1849 – 22 July 1916)
American writer, poet and best-selling author
Known as the ‘Hoosier Poet’ for his dialect works and as ‘Children’s Poet’