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Comparison between November Story and November night, Edinburgh

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November Story and November night, Edinburgh
November Story and November night, Edinburgh are two poems that differ in several ways but are essentially similarly themed. Both poems are similar in the way that they use personification to emphasise the weather. Both poems use animal imagery and people to emphasise how bad the weather actually is. The poem November story, by Vernon Scanell is from the writer’s point of view and is about a man who is in the wincing cold and sees a man, “a victim of crime” propped against a lamp post. The body turns out to be a Guy Fawkes and the man then gives the “urchin boy” with the guy some money. November night, Edinburgh is about November coming to an end and the rawness of winter.

The start of November story is written in personification and is describing the coldness of the November evening. “The evening had caught a cold” emphasises how cold the weather actually is by saying that even the weather has a cold and is chilly. From the first stanza to the second there is a change in atmosphere with a direct comparison “I sat in a warm bar.” This also emphasises how cold the weather actually is. This is a juxtapose to the opening first stanza. Throughout the poem, animal imagery is used to show the atmosphere and the mood. For example “Where shadows prowled the alleys.” The word prowled makes us think of a predatory animal and shows the atmosphere to be quite sinister and dark. The use of personification in the poem creates a picture in the reader’s mind of what the speaker felt and saw on that November day. Personification also helps connect the feeling of November to the feeling that the speaker felt when he saw the homeless man in the ally. The man sees a person whose legs were “splayed out wide” and who’s “head lolled to one side.”

To begin with, the man believes he has seen someone who is “a victim of crime” and we feel sympathy for him. However as the man gets closer he hears an urchin child say “Spare a penny for the guy.” This is where we realises that the man is actually a doll. The weather is so brutal and cold that the man then imagines that the guy is talking to him “as if the guy had spoken”. The overall atmosphere and mood of the poem is seen to be quite spooky and ghostly “The wincing aire seemed strange – So hoarse and deep.” The first line of November night, Edinburgh “The night tinkles like ice in a glass” is a simile and is saying that the weather is cold and frosty. In the first stanza of the poem, the poet also uses personification to emphasise the weather. Throughout the poem, more personification is used to show how cold the weather is. For example in the second stanza “I gulp down winter raw.” This is emphasising the pain of the cold. It is so cold outside that it is actually painful to breathe and the man has to ‘gulp’ it down. In the last stanza of the poem the poet uses a metaphor.

“The world’s a bear shrugged in his den.” This also emphasises the cold as the world wants to stay warm and ‘snug’ in a cave like a bear. The world is exposed to the cold and wants to hide away and be warm. By using chrysanthemums at the end, they suggest death linking to winter as the dying end of the year and bring a rather melancholic note to the end of the poem. The overall atmosphere is quite gloomy. The weather is so cold it is painful “frost in my lungs is harsh” and nobody is happy or warm. The atmosphere and mood could also be seen as being depressing. “Darkness swirls” and “The fog unfolds its bitter scent.” The town is in darkness and is dull. The weather is depressing and is lowering people’s spirits. The two poems are both similar in the way that they both personify the weather through imagery to emphasis the coldness. Also the two poems both have the same gloomy and depressing atmosphere and mood. However the two poems differ in the purpose of each. The purpose of Vernon Scanell’s poem is to evoke sympathy from the reader. The poem radiates a dreary and melancholy feeling as it describes November and all that November brings. November night, Edinburgh unfolds a brutality and harshness that echoes our country’s capacity to chill.

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