FORM AND STRUCTURE
- A ballad: Part of the oral tradition - significant themes, universality
- Elegy about the death of his wife, Emma
- Enjambement creates a 'falling' effect, seems the only thing getting him through this grief
- Caesura: Higlights his longing to see her and 'yes' - his excitement that he might have heard her. Intensifies pity for him.
- Dactyllic tetrameter: 4 beat regular rehearsed rhythm. Contrasts the last stanza where it breaks up, signifying his grief and the emptiness in his life. Line 13 is short, signifying him 'falling' like the leaves.
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VOICE AND PERSPECTIVE
- Last stanza: voice breaks down. Alliteration of 'faltering forward' characterises the persona as old and feeble - hasn't got her love anymore. Rhythm breaks, signifying his grief
- 2 voices: the persona's and the voice he 'hears' - but 'the woman' 's voice is filtered - anger? grief? Portrays him as manipulative, perhaps blaming himself for her death. He uses metaphors for their past relationship - 'our day was fair', intensifying his grief as now it is ended.
- Contradictory points of first accusing her of changing then longing to see her emphasises his grief as they are part of the grieving process. Makes it universal. Creates pity for him.
- The persona's voice questions as if confused why she's gone.
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PLACES & SETTING
- The bleak landscape echoes the decline of their relationship
- Contrast in landscapes: 'town' - urban, links with her as he hears her as he draws nearer to it - intensifying his longing as she is not concrete and real like the town: she is dead. Natural landscape - 'wet mead' creates a sense of lonliness and emptiness, reflecting his feelings.
- The 'woman' is linked to summer with an 'air blue gown', focuses on her and hints at his love to her. Their past relationship is also linked to it as their 'day was fair' back then.
- He is now in winter which reflects what he feels (pathetic fallacy) and intensifies that she will never come back - 'heard no more again'.
- The poem is structured around setting.
- 1st 2 stanzas are a memory so a lack of detail about the setting
- Last 2 are in the present so concrete detail, emphasising his raw gried and relates to his mood of despair
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- Lack of characterisation = universality, links to ballad form
- Her: fragile, aetherial, idealised in death, never hear her speak. Linked with the 'air-blue gown' - beauty, nature, but foreshadows her death as now she is in the 'breeze' and untangible: an absence of body
- Persona/him: by the end he's 'faltering forward' - implies he's old and cannot stand without her. He is also 'oozing thin' signifying the emptiness of his life without her. He juxtaposes her.
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