Christopher Balchin, educator and Aesthetic Realism associate, writes:
When I first read “It Will Be Annabel November,” I was amazed, and stirred to my depths. This greatly musical poem by Eli Siegel is about a woman and her relation to a wide and ever-changing world, as represented by the month of November. In his note to the poem, published in Hot Afternoons Have Been in Montana: Poems, Mr. Siegel writes:
Annabel is a person; also a way of being. I found that feminine persons could stand for, indeed, had to stand for, a way of the universe and a way of taking the universe: it all arises from the primitive and historical tendency to see femininity as logic and abstraction.
As I was growing up—in Kent, England—that was not how I thought about femininity. I saw women, not as related to the rest of the world, but as existing to be charmed and captivated by me. I later learned from Aesthetic Realism that this way of seeing arose from contempt; it made the women I knew resentful, and made me ashamed and unsure of myself.
Every woman, I am learning from Aesthetic Realism and this poem, has to do with the world itself and stands for “a way of taking the universe.” I think one of the remarkable things about the poem is that we feel the self of a woman intimately, from within—and at the same time, we feel the world she’s in is big, wide, not to be summed up. Annabel and the month of autumn, with “its changing of trees,…skies, …sun,” are shown to be inextricable.
“It Will Be Annabel November” begins:
We shall have, Annabel,
In November this,
With the changing of trees,
And the changing of skies,
And the changing of sun,
And the changing of all.
You will smile other, Annabel,
Feel other, Annabel,
Look on the past other, Annabel.
In November, in mornings,
With hushedness in woods,
And leaves falling to earth,
And the sun far,
O Annabel, a new world for you and all.