If I Could tell you W. H. auden overall themes Essay

Published: 2020-02-25 15:50:12
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The poem discusses a number of ideas surrounding time, and the ability to see into the future, and learn from things. It can also be seen as a love poem between Auden and his prospective lover, Kallam. It depicts a kind of wisdom, or can be seen as showing a know-it-all attitude. Conversely, it can even be seen as saying we dont know what the future may hold, just run with it. Interesting Ideas/Features Time Time is vital to the poem, as it is what is discussed most. 1. Time Time is a proper noun whenever it is mentioned in the poem; it is personified.

Time can be seen throughout the poem as something which cannot be stopped, represented by the themes of repetition and death which come up throughout. Time is made to feel almost like a God, something supernatural over which we have no control. Only it knows our future, and we can never know, only in hindsight can we help others. Even then, we cannot tell them what to do. Time is over-arching and always there, it is the essence of life and surrounds you. Time can also be seen as useless, we cannot see into the future so we might as well take risks and go for things because we never know what may happen.

The reference to pay suggests death is a debt that must be paid to time, even love cannot avoid this fate Time is inevitable. Time is indifferent to the quarrels and fears of man, it simply progresses onwards. The impersonal nature of time is presented throughout the poem. It doesnt have a personality and stays quiet and in the shadows for most of the poem. Voice 1. I The poem is written in a first person narrative voice; Audens. This makes the poem intimate and personal, perhaps in an attempt to seduce his lover, Kallam.

It also makes it intimate with any reader, almost as if he is trying to communicate a message with anyone who reads the poem. However, the I could be seen as being anyone; it could be a wise man to a young son, warning him of the perils of time and the repetition of life, or it could be from one lover to another. The voice of the poet is dominant and contrasts with the voice of time which is simply lurking in the background, quietly doing its work. The speaker blames Time for unwanted changes in life. Poetical Structure.

The structure of the poem is also significant and key to its overarching meaning. Vilanelle Form The form of the structure is a villanelle, 19 lines long, five stanzas of three lines and one of four. Lines one and three of the first stanza appear at the end of the other stanzas. Line two in each stanza rhymes with line two in each other stanza and it ends with a rhyming couplet. This ordered structure can have a number of meanings. Firstly, it can be representative of the poet trying to make sense of time and of his relationship.

Often, poets will use ordered structures to try and make things clearer and easier to understand. The poem has a definite pace, representative of the pace of time, which is constant and cannot be halted or stopped. The restrictive form of the poem contrasts against its emotional message, which is one of more unrestrictive love and a willingness to just go for it. However, it serves to remind us that time is always there and will always restrict us in some ways. The sense of urgency created from the repetition and use of enjambment conveys the true message of the poem, to love while you have the chance.

Time is restrictive, so perhaps the message of the poem is that we should do our best to love and live within the restraints of time, rather than trying to supersede it. There is no definite narrative or story about the poem. The poem can therefore be seen as a skeleton or example for stories. It suggests a message though. Use of Modal Verbs, Conditionals, Imperatives and Rhetorical Questions Blah blah blah. Should, could- The use of modal verbs is very important within the poem.

It gives the narrative a feel of uncertainty; that even with the passage of time and the power of hindsight we cannot truly know what will happen in the future. However, this uncertainty, to Auden, perhaps doesnt mean you shouldnt try things in love. He hints throughout the poem to the fact that perhaps sometimes it is necessary to try things and see how they turn out. Although, he does still hint to the fact that rushing a relationship may not be the best idea perhaps the roses really want to grow; connoting to the growth of their relationship.

They also serve as a profession of honesty, as Auden himself admits he doesnt know what will happen. It can thus be seen as a love poem which offers no frilly illusions or impossible promises but is instead firmly based in reality. This contrasts heavily to the works of Keats who was often far more romantic. If we should, If I could tell you These conditional clauses have a very similar effect to the modal verbs. It points to the fact that again, nothing is certain, and sometimes it is up to us to make our own decisions rather than relying on others.

It also seems like the battle against Time is hopeless, it will pass relentlessly no matter what we do. The use of we in If we should is also interesting. It contrasts with the more direct address Auden uses throughout the rest of the poem (favouring I). It creates a feeling of confusion as to whether Auden is speaking to humans as a whole, to us directly or to his lover Kallam. It gives the poem a number of differing messages depending on how you read into it. Will Time say nothing but I told you so? Includes both a rhetorical question and an imperative (will).

This demonstrates that despite his analysis of time and his relationship, he still doesnt really understand the essence of time, as he has to ask Time itself whether it will say I told you so. The voice of time itself is relatively silent throughout the poem, and Auden fears that the only thing it will say is I told you so, which could again relate back to the concept of hindsight. Contrasting Language Weep, Decay This use of dark and depressing language is used throughout the poem to give it a more sombre tone.

However, this is juxtaposed next to the childish language associated with the carnival clowns, lions etc. This could be symbolic, illustrating how the reality of time would cast fear over people if it were not for the presence of love. Love, perhaps, is one thing which can stem the flow of time and stop it becoming too depressing. The overall tone of the poem does seem somewhat pessimistic on face value, and the carnival language can be seen as rather unnerving rather than comforting. However, when looked at more deeply, there is a small amount of hope professed in the poem, no matter how small it is!

The verb decay is also significant. The decaying of leaves relates to the cyclical nature of time and death. It is unavoidable and a process that happens again and again, showing the unrelenting nature of Time. Confusing Syntax Because I love you¦ I would let you know This part of the third stanza uses complicated and confusing syntax in order to make the reader refrain, and perhaps read over it again. This therefore forces the reader to seriously contemplate what they are actually reading.

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