November by Simon Armitage

November by Simon Armitage is a poem that creates an atmosphere of sadness and loss. In this poem the narrator and his friend John are taking John’s grandmother to the hospital and it makes them reflect on life and feel very bad. This poem creates the sad atmosphere by using a number of different techniques and makes the reader recognise the messages of the poem- everyone dies and you cannot stop time or the fact that everyone will one day pass on.

Armitage spends the vast majority of this poem creating a sad atmosphere by using various techniques, one of these techniques being symbolism. The first and probably most obvious use of symbolism is the title itself, ‘November’. With November being the second last month before the end of the year it represents the old lady’s life, as they are taking her to hospital to die but she’s not quite at the end of her life. Also throughout the poem there are many references to dark; the twilight zone, dusk, evening, and only one reference to the light- ‘sometimes the sun spangles’. The light and the dark are meant to symbolise the obvious positive and negative which contributes to how the poet creates this atmosphere of sadness, as the dark (negative things) is what he most frequently talks about in the poem. Another example of symbolism is when Armitage says ‘we feel the terror of dusk’. Dusk is representing the day ending and it becoming very dark and shadowy, meaning that a new day will soon begin and to them that is terrifying because they don’t want to grow old and that is the terror.

Another technique Armitage uses to create this melancholy atmosphere is through the use of ambiguity. An example of ambiguity is when the narrator says ‘Its time John’. This can mean two very different things, one being that it is time to go home and leave his grandmother to settle in, or, it could mean that it is time that has made his grandmother this old and frail. This is when the reader...

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