Analysis of November Night, Edinburgh

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Analysis of November Night, Edinburgh
November Night, Edinburgh is a wonderful poem by Norman MacCaig. This poem is describing the horrible winter in Edinburgh, Scotland. The winter described is a cold, terrible winter with frost and pollution. This poem follows a 4-line 4-stanza structure. This poem does not have any rhyming in it, but one could argue that MacCaig has structured the poem so that it resembles the tenements that he has described in the picture. This poem uses strong figurative and literal language to create wonderful imagery, and appeals to the senses.

MacCaig has used metaphors, similes and personifications to enhance this poem. A personification in this poem that stands out is “The brown air fumes at the shop windows, tries the door and sidles past.” (stanza 1, line 3 & 4) The brown air is the heavily contaminated air, trying to infect our body with the poison that it contains. The air seems as though it is the enemy to our human body, and we create barriers, such as doors and windows, to protect us from the air.

MacCaig uses interesting metaphors throughout this entire poem. One metaphor is “I gulp down winter raw.” (stanza 2, line 1) This is a strong metaphor, as it creates that this winter is cruel and agonizing. But, this metaphor also has a literal meaning. To face “winter raw”, means that he has to face winter without any protection. He could be homeless, no heating in his house, or no jackets to insulate heat.

This poem illustrates the air on this winter’s night in Edinburgh multiple times. “In a brown fuzz of cotton wool”, (stanza 2, line 3) describes the air with vivid figurative language. The cotton wool stated in the line are the clouds in the air, while the brown fuzz is the pollution. The cotton wool could also mean that the air is like cotton wool and brown fuzz, making it taste horrible, and stuck in your throat as it is dirty cotton wool.

“Frost in my lungs is harsh as leaves”, (stanza 3, line 1), is a strong simile...
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