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`Poets have often used land and the seasons and nature as a
representation of their thoughts on time and change'
Is this true of this collection?
The idea of time, or the passing of it, is seen in many of the poems in this collection.
However it can be presented in many different ways. In Keats' ode `To Autumn' the
passing of time is explicitly portrayed with the mentions of the past summer and
spring, and the line `watchest the last oozings hours by hours' forms an image of
time slipping away, further fortified by the final stanza's mention of the `soft-dying
day'. The various mentions of the sun also create a sense of the passage of time,
with the `close bosom friend of the maturing sun' suggesting the unstoppable
inevitability that is the constant ticking away of time.
In `Grasshopper and the Cricket' the two statements `The poetry of earth is never
dead' and `The poetry of earth is ceasing never' suggest how natures beauty is
infinite and has conquered time, yet there is still evidence of the cyclical passing of
seasons, `in summer luxury' and `on a lone winter evening', effectively portraying the
idea that all seasons have their beauty, as shown in `To Autumn' by the lines `Where
are the songs of spring?... Think not of them thou hast thy music too'.
One interpretation of `On the grasshopper and the cricket' could be that one should
appreciate the beauty in life and youth, but also see the beauty in getting older. This
is implied in the poem by its structure. The poem is made up of two sentences, or
two halves. The first describes the summer telling the reader of the `hot sun' and
`new mown mead', while the second portrays a `lone winter evening when the frost
has wrought silence'. The rhyme scheme also fortifies this contrast, changing
between the two halves. The statement `The poetry of earth is ceasing never' marks
the halfway point to the poem, the word order of which is quite odd, but allows the
stress of the line to be placed on `never', however even though this word is negative
it portrays much more positive emotions.
However, in `Dover Beach' time is presented in a very different way. Arnold uses
tenses to flit from the present to the past and finally to the future. In the first stanza
he uses sensory descriptions, e.g. `sweet is the night air' and `Listen! ... hear the
grating roar', to plant the reader firmly in the scene he is creating, acting as a present
foundation off which he can begin to explore the past and future. In an almost
reminiscent tone (`Sophocles long ago...') he presents the reader with much more
abstract, metaphorical ideas, contrasting with the solid realistic descriptions towards
the beginning of the poem.
The descriptions of the sea can also be interpreted as a metaphorical tool which
Arnold uses to represent the `ebb and flow' of change. While at the beginning of the
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The sound of the sea is at first presented in a positive
light, with the exclamation mark `Listen!' adding to this effect, portraying the
enthusiasm for the experiences of the poet to be shared by the reader. However if
taken out of context `grating roar' would seem harsh and violent, this enthusiastic
effect casts it in a good light. This animated description is contrast completely to his
later portrayal of the `sea of faith' `But now I only hear / it's melancholy, long,
withdrawing roar'.…read more