Sunday, January 11, 2009

External Structure(Sonnet) 2: Autumnal Sonnet

“Autumnal Sonnet”

-William Allingham


Now Autumn's fire burns slowly along the woods,

And day by day the dead leaves fall and melt,

And night by night the monitory blast

Wails in the key-hold, telling how it pass'd

O'er empty fields, or upland solitudes,

Or grim wide wave; and now the power is felt

Of melancholy, tenderer in its moods

Than any joy indulgent summer dealt.

Dear friends, together in the glimmering eve,

Pensive and glad, with tones that recognise

The soft invisible dew in each one's eyes,

It may be, somewhat thus we shall have leave

To walk with memory,--when distant lies

Poor Earth, where we were wont to live and grieve.


This sonnet is in Petrarchan form. The poem, like my first choice, is split into two parts. The first being the initial eight lines of the poem, and the second being the final six lines.

The first section of this poem deals with autumn as a season and what comes with it. It discusses how with autumn the leaves fall and die and how the mood of the Earth shifts from the “indulgent summer” to a “melancholy, tenderer in its moods”. This section delineates autumn as a very negative time of year. This is odd as usually winter is the archetype for death, but here autumn is the source of all the despair and the dead leave’s melting. The speaker seems to be suggesting that the fear surrounding death is actually within the precursor to death and not death itself. It is knowing that death is coming that frightens us, and not death itself.

In the second part the speaker addresses his readers and talks about facing the horrors ahead (winter). He talks about the coming winter and how earth will not live through it. It is revealed that the earth is in its autumn, and that winter is around the corner. The speaker is trying to ready his audience so that they can be prepared for the end and “walk with memory”.

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