My November Guest

Just contrasting moods with Frost. Robert Frost, “My November Guest:”

My Sorrow, when she’s here with me,
Thinks these dark days of autumn rain
Are beautiful as days can be;
She loves the bare, the withered tree;
She walks the sodden pasture lane.

The trees are bare, but not quite withered yet. It is damp and getting darker, but there is a crispness outside that I wish to match in my work. Winter is coming methodically, working in clearly defined increments.

I’m anxious, not sorrowful.

Her pleasure will not let me stay.
She talks and I am fain to list:
She’s glad the birds are gone away,
She’s glad her simple worsted gray
Is silver now with clinging mist.

Anxiety doesn’t talk. She just stares at you, and once you think your mind is off her, she’s still there, staring.

In a way, she’s comforting. It feels at times like you’re loved, held to some higher standard. Even when worrying about one’s immediate security, there’s the concern of doing the best one can now, showing gratefulness for all that’s been given and will be given.

It’s not the worst thing to know someone is watching.

The desolate, deserted trees,
The faded earth, the heavy sky,
The beauties she so truly sees,
She thinks I have no eye for these,
And vexes me for reason why.

Anxiety takes no solace in Spring; her solace is in the certainty of decay. Fear is her motivator: maybe this desolate, faded, weighted condition can be transcended for a moment, and if so, then you’ve accomplished something. If not, all goes to rot anyway.

In this, anxiety is linked with sorrow: both deny the whole purposefully. And they think they have something to teach us.

Not yesterday I learned to know
The love of bare November days
Before the coming of the snow,
But it were vain to tell her so,
And they are better for her praise.

Those more attuned to the whole – those of us who are human – know implicitly the importance of “my sorrow,” “my anxiety.” They’re parts of a whole we’re trying to piece together. In Sorrow’s case, she should be allowed to speak: she’s only articulating what would weigh too heavily otherwise.

I think anxiety needs to be spoken to, but not badly. Anxiety may deny Spring initially, but she doesn’t deny hope. She’d like to be resolved, and the only question is how. The trick is to move her away from fear towards something rational. Small victories, then, matter far more than bigger accomplishments. Thanksgiving wasn’t about conquest in the New World, but more about getting through the harshest of times.

3 Comments

  1. Hey, I was just browsing your site, and wanted to say keep up the good work. I read your post about the stupidity of my generation, and I agree. But also wanted to say there is hope. Im 17 and have an eagerness to learn that many of my friends dont share.
    Anyway, I also wanted to say that I just so happened to have bought A collection of all of Frosts poems today, and absolutely love them. I thought it was ironic that you happened to post this on the same day, and talked about one of my new favorite poems.
    Thank you. :D

  2. As much as I enjoy Thanksgiving and Christmas, I do not enjoy the weather. I am a spring and summer person. I need sunshine. If I were not a gardener, I would not like the rain.
    Luckily, I live in the south, where the winters are tolerable to me.
    Great poem, however. I enjoyed it.

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