“I dig old books.” ™
Welcome to my page of quotations about the month of November. Here in the desert the weather is nearly always mild and beautiful during this entry to winter, and yet still it comes along with its dreariness and loneliness. But it's also a time of quiet, of contemplation, cuddling, comfort foods, family, and friends. And a great time to use the earlier nights for reading all the books you can get your hands on! Speaking of books, I hope you enjoy these quotations which I have much enjoyed harvesting and compiling over the years.
Anne, sitting at her tower window one late November evening, with her pen at her lip and dreams in her eyes, looked out on a twilight world and suddenly thought she would like a walk to the old graveyard. She had never visited it yet, preferring the birch and maple grove or the harbor road for her evening rambles. But there is always a November space after the leaves have fallen when she felt it was almost indecent to intrude on the woods…for their glory terrestrial had departed and their glory celestial of spirit and purity and whiteness had not yet come upon them. ~Lucy Maud Montgomery (1874–1942), Anne of Windy Poplars, 1936
November woods are bare and still;
November days are clear and bright;
Each noon burns up the morning's chill;
The morning's snow is gone by night...
November woods are bare and still;
November days are bright and good;
Life's noon burns up life's morning chill;
Life's night rests feet which long have stood...
~Helen Fiske Hunt Jackson (1830–1885), "Down to Sleep."
Judith stood before her little library in the dark November dawn, with a candle in her hand, scanning the familiar titles with weary eyes.... these last few days she had taken to waking at dawn, to lying for hours wide-eyed in her little white bed, while the slow day grew. But to‑day it was intolerable, she could bear it no longer.... She would try a book; not a very hopeful remedy in her own opinion, but one which [those] who were troubled by sleeplessness, regarded, she knew, as the best thing under the circumstances. ~Amy Levy (1861–1889), Reuben Sachs: A Sketch, 1888
Cosy fire a-burning bright,—
Cosy tables robed in white,—
Dainty dishes smoking hot,—
Home! And cold and snow forgot!
~Louise Bennett Weaver and Helen Cowles LeCron, "November," A Thousand Ways to Please a Husband with Bettina's Best Recipes, 1917
The bleak November winds, and smote the woods,
And the brown fields were herbless, and the shades,
That met above the merry rivulet,
Were spoil'd, I sought, I loved them still,—they seem'd
Like old companions in adversity.
~William Cullen Bryant, "A Winter Piece"
peering from some high
window;at the gold
of november sunset
(and feeling:that if day
has to become night
this is a beautiful way)
~e.e. cummings ["who are you,little i (five or six years old)" written at age sixty-seven
"November is the most disagreeable month in the whole year," said Margaret, standing at the window one dull afternoon, looking out at the frost-bitten garden.
"That's the reason I was born in it," observed Jo pensively...
~Louisa May Alcott, Little Women, 1868
In rough October
Earth must disrobe her;
Stars fall and shoot
In keen November;
And night is long
And cold is strong
In bleak December.
~Christina G. Rossetti (1830–1894), Sing-Song: A Nursery Rhyme Book, 1872
We seldom think of November in terms of beauty or any other specially satisfying tribute. November is simply that interval between colorful October and dark December. Then, nearly every year, come a few November days of clear, crisp weather that make one wonder why November seldom gets its due.
There is the November sky, clean of summer dust, blown clear this day of the urban smog that so often hazes autumn...
There is the touch of November air, chill enough to have a slight tang, like properly aged cider. Not air that caresses, nor yet air that nips. Air that makes one breathe deeply and think of spring water and walk briskly. ~Hal Borland, "Bright November Day," November 1970
All Nature mourns, I said; November wild
Hath torn the fairest pages from her book.
~Albert Laighton (1829–1887), "In the Woods," c.1859
Even when November's sun is low
And Winter flaps his fleecy wings,
Thy gold among his silvery snow
A solace in the sadness brings.
~James Rigg, "To the Corn Marigold," Wild Flower Lyrics and Other Poems, 1897
Fallen leaves lying on the grass in the November sun bring more happiness than daffodils. Spring is a call to action, hence to disillusion, therefore is April called "the cruellest month." Autumn is the mind's true Spring; what is there we have, "quidquid promiserat annus" and it is more than we expected. ~Cyril Connolly, The Unquiet Grave, 1944 [Originally published under the pseudonym Palinurus. Translation of the Latin phrase: Before our eyes stood all the promise of the year.
November gave her scented sprigs
Of Spruce and Larch and Pine...
~James Rigg, "The Progress of Queen Flora, Adorned by a Hundred Wild Flowers," Wild Flower Lyrics and Other Poems, 1897
The drifting clouds are dark and drear,
The blossoms die of cold and fear,
The wild wind mourns the fading year,
And winter threatens near.
~Elizabeth Chase Akers Allen (1832–1911), "November," c.1864
And November goes,
With the last red berries
And the first white snows.
With night coming early,
And dawn coming late,
And ice in the bucket
And frost by the gate.
The fires burn
And the kettles sing,
And earth sinks to rest
Until next spring.
~Elizabeth Coatsworth (1893–1986)
Autumn, I love thy parting look to view
In cold November's day, so bleak and bare,
When, thy life's dwindled thread worn nearly thro',
With ling'ring, pott'ring pace, and head bleach'd bare,
Thou, like an old man, bidd'st the world adieu.
~John Clare (1793–1864), "Written in November"
In tattered gold
Tossing bits of amber
And jade, jewels of a year grown old:
~Zephyr Ware Tarver (1886–1974), "A Queen Makes an Exit," Arizona Highways, November 1971
November is usually such a disagreeable month…as if the year had suddenly found out that she was growing old and could do nothing but weep and fret over it. This year is growing old gracefully…just like a stately old lady who knows she can be charming even with gray hair and wrinkles. We've had lovely days and delicious twilights. This last fortnight has been so peaceful.... How quiet the woods are to‑day…not a murmur except that soft wind purring in the treetops! It sounds like surf on a faraway shore. ~Lucy Maud Montgomery, Anne of Avonlea, 1909
So dull and dark are the November days.
The lazy mist high up the evening curled,
And now the morn quite hides in smoke and haze;
The place we occupy seems all the world.
~John Clare (1793–1864), "November"
There is no color in the world,
No lovely tint on hill or plain;
The summer's golden sails are furled,
And sadly falls the autumn rain.
~Celia Laighton Thaxter (1835–1894), "November," c.1871
The Earth lies tacitly beneath,
As it were dead to joy or pain:
It does not move, it does not breathe...
And all my heart is patient too,
I wait till it shall wake again;
The songs of spring shall sound anew,
Though sadly falls the autumn rain.
~Celia Laighton Thaxter (1835–1894), "November," c.1871
The month of November makes me feel that life is passing more quickly. In an effort to slow it down, I try to fill the hours more meaningfully. ~Henry Rollins, "Empowerment Through Libraries," November 2013, LA Weekly
Dull November brings the blast,
Then the leaves are whirling fast.
~Sara Coleridge, "The Months," Pretty Lessons In Verse, For Good Children; With Some Lessons in Latin, In Easy Rhyme, 1834
How cold it is! Even the lights are cold;
They have put shawls of fog around them, see!
....What a silver night!
~Sara Teasdale (1884–1933), "A November Night," c.1916
Hark you such sound as quivers? Kings will hear,
As kings have heard, and tremble on their thrones;
The old will feel the weight of mossy stones;
The young alone will laugh and scoff at fear...
Who fell, ah! long ago, in futile wars;
It is such sound as death; and, after all,
'T is but the forest letting dead leaves fall.
~Mahlon Leonard Fisher (1874–1947), "November," c.1917
Shout now! The months, with loud acclaim,
Take up the cry and send it forth;
May, breathing, sweet her Spring perfumes,
November thundering from the North.
~J.K. Hoyt (1820–1895), "The Meeting of the Months," c.1882
It is November. The noons are more
laconic and the sundowns sterner.
November always seemed to me
the Norway of the year...
~Emily Dickinson, "The Winter Garden" [This is actually not a true Dickinson poem but has been created by Lewis Turco based on her 1864 letter to Mrs. J.G. Holland. See: Emily Dickinson, Woman of Letters: Poems and Centos from Lines in Emily Dickinson's Letters, selected, arranged, and augmented by Lewis Turco, together with Essays on the Subject by Various Hands, 1993.
The last days of November write their own pages. ~Keith Wynn, @Darxist_Marxist
White snowdrop in November
I shall go now towards winter
my free soul flowering with harvests.
~Yves Préfontaine, "The Night of November 15, 1976," translated from the French by Judith Cowan (1993)
October extinguished itself in a rush of howling winds and driving rain and November arrived, cold as frozen iron, with hard frosts every morning and icy draughts that bit at exposed hands and faces. ~J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, "The Lion and the Serpent," 2003
My Sorrow, when she's here with me,
Thinks these dark days of autumn rain
Are beautiful as days can be...
The desolate, deserted trees,
The faded earth, the heavy sky...
Not yesterday I learned to know
The love of bare November days
Before the coming of the snow...
~Robert Frost, "My November Guest," A Boy's Will, 1913
November... leads the months their wintry round... ~Anne Hunter (1742–1821), "November, 1784"
I love to see the cottage smoke
Curl upwards through the trees,
The pigeons nestled round the cote
On November days like these...
~John Clare (1793–1864), "Autumn"
The quiet of October is refreshing
The quiet of November, oppressing
~Terri Guillemets, "How suddenly it turns," 2015
Snow noiseless sifts
Ere night, an icy shroud, which morning's rays
Will idly shine upon and slowly melt...
Bare are the places where the sweet flowers dwelt.
What joy sufficient hath November felt?
~Helen Fiske Hunt Jackson (1830–1885), "November"
Softly breathes the west wind beside the ruddy forest,
Taking leaf by leaf from the branches where he flies.
Sweetly streams the sunshine, this third day of November,
Through the golden haze of the quiet autumn skies...
Like this kindly season may life's decline come o'er me;
Past is manhood's summer, the frosty months are here;
Yet be genial airs and a pleasant sunshine left me,
Leaf, and fruit, and blossom, to mark the closing year.
~William Cullen Bryant, "The Third of November, 1861"
In high wind creaks the leafless tree
And nods the fading fern;
The knolls are dun as snow-clouds be,
And cold the sun does burn...
The tears arise unto my eyes,
And thoughts are chill and brown...
[H]o, folk, ho! though it is so
That we no more may roam,
We still will find a cheerful mind
Around the fire at home!
~C.L. Cleaveland, "November," in The Atlantic Monthly, November 1877
No Park—noRing—no afternoon gentility—
No company—no nobility—
No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease
No comfortable feel in any member—
No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,
No fruits, no flow'rs, no leaves, no birds,
~Thomas Hood (1799–1845), "No!" [In the posthumously published (1852) Whimsicalities.
This is November of the hardest kind, bare frozen ground covered with pale brown or straw-colored herbage, a strong, cold, cutting north wind.... This month taxes a walker's resources more than any other.... If you do feel any fire at this season out of doors, you may depend upon it, it is your own.... You can hardly screw up your courage to take a walk when all is thus tightly locked or frozen up, and so little is to be seen in field or wood.... Nature has herself become, like the few fruits she still affords, a very thick-shelled nut with a shrunken meat within. If I find anything to excite a warming thought abroad, it is an agreeable disappointment, for I am obliged to go willfully and against my inclination at first, the prospect looks so barren, so many springs are frozen up, not a flower, perchance, and few birds left, not a companion abroad in all these fields for me. I seem to anticipate a fruitless walk.... But then I am often unexpectedly compensated, and the thinnest yellow light of November is more warming and exhilarating than any wine they tell of. ~Henry David Thoreau, journal, 1857 November 25th
Now yellow autumn's leafy ruins lie
In faded splendor, on deserted plains...
~Anne Hunter (1742–1821), "November, 1784"
When chill November's surly blast
Made fields and forests bare...
~Robert Burns (1759–1796), "Man Was Made to Mourn, a Dirge"
There's May amid the meadows
There's May amid the trees...
Above the rippling river
May swallows skim and dart;
November and December
Keep watch within my heart.
~Amy Levy, "A Dirge," c.1884
It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone. You count on it, rely on it to buffer the passage of time, to keep the memory of sunshine and high skies alive, and then just when the days are all twilight, when you need it most, it stops. ~A. Bartlett Giamatti, "The Green Fields of the Mind," Yale Alumni Magazine, November 1977 [about baseball
The melancholy days are come, the saddest of the year,
Of wailing winds, and naked woods, and meadows brown and sear.
Heaped in the hollows of the grove, the withered leaves lie dead...
Where are the flowers, the fair young flowers, that lately sprang and stood
In brighter light and softer airs, a beauteous sisterhood?...
The rain is falling where they lie, but the cold November rain,
Calls not, from out the gloomy earth, the lovely ones again.
~William Cullen Bryant (1794–1878), "The Death of the Flowers"
November's sky is chill and drear,
November's leaf is red and sear...
~Walter Scott (1771–1832), Marmion, 1808
Who first comes to this world below
With drear November's fog and snow
Should prize the Topaz' amber hue—
Emblem of friends and lovers true.
~Author unknown, "Birth-Month Charms," c.1870
If there's ice in November that will bear a duck,
There'll be nothing after but sludge and muck.
~English folk-lore rhyme, first printed c.1876
November's days are thirty:
November's earth is dirty,
Those thirty days, from first to last;
And the prettiest things on ground are the paths....
Few care for the mixture of earth and water,
Twig, leaf, flint, thorn,
Straw, feather, all that men scorn,
Pounded up and sodden by flood,
Condemned as mud.
~Edward Thomas (1878-1917), "November"
The November evening had a bite; it nibbled not-quite-gently at her cheeks and ears. In Virginia the late autumn was a lover, still, but a dangerous one. ~J. Aleksandr Wootton, The Eighth Square (Fayborn Book 2), 2013, www.jackwootton.com