November is a month that we associate with bonfires, with Guy Fawkes, with Thanksgiving and, more recently, the more commercial Black Friday and Cyber Monday. November is also the month when many of us will be shopping ahead for Christmas, the lull before the crazy festive storm which takes hold in December. But what about writing? And writers? Many people have written about November, the 11th month of our year, and it is definitely something which is worth exploring further. If you have some time in between homework, Christmas shopping or such like, why don’t you dip into some writing which celebrates November, a month that is often dark, cold and gloomy?
Emily Dickinson, way back in the late 1800s, wrote about November in her poetry. In ‘Nature, Poem 49: November’ she says how many things are dying in this month, perhaps meaning how nature hides away for winter and prepares itself for spring. Dickinson says how ‘Perhaps a squirrel will remain’ – but maybe it won’t. In another of her poems, she says how ‘November always seemed to be the Norway of the year’. Maybe this metaphor is linked to the month’s darkness. Or, do you have a different interpretation? Of course, it isn’t just Dickinson that writes about November.
Sir Walter Scott says how ‘November’s sky is chill and drear/November’s leaf is red and sear’ – you will be able to notice similarities, maybe, with Dickinson’s work where the poet writes about nature and how it can change quite noticeably. Scott was writing before Dickinson, though – he was born in the 1700s. He does touch on something lighter here with the leaf reference – but often we see nature’s autumn bounty a little earlier, although this does depend on where you are in the world.
But what about other forms of literature? Guns ‘n’ Roses’ ‘November Rain’ is a long song from 1992 about, well, I think you can hazard a guess! Specifically, cold rain. So, is November getting a rough deal? Dickinson writes about things disappearing, Scott about darkness, then frontman Axl Rose about the rain. It all sounds quite depressing and grey! How about you look out for more positive, sunny November references when you are reading? Admittedly, in the UK, we often do get a lot of rain this month, and nights are certainly shorter. But we get sunny days, too, and blue skies. You could even write your own piece inspired by November!