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Analysis of the poem ''in time of daffodils'' by e.e. cummings


I. INTRODUCTION: ''in time of daffodils'' is a wonderful poem by an outstanding American poet e.e. cummings. It strikes us by its eccentric punctuation which is quite typical of this poet. We know that e.e. cummings was fond of experimenting with the form as he tried to find a new way to write on old subjects. In general e.e. cumming's themes may be called quite traditional. They are: nature, friendship and, of course, love. ''in time of daffodils'' is a lyric poem about love as well: cummings as if contemplates his own love for his addressee and their relaionships. The poet tells us his intimate thoughts about love and eternity.

II. STUCTURE: This poem is well structured and consists of 5 stanzas represented by 3 lines each.

III. THE PHONETIC LEVEL: The metrical pattern is iambic tetrameter, which is the leading one throughout the whole poem. There are still a lot of modifications in the meter, for example, the pyrrhic foot in the first and the second lines of each stanza. The rhyming pattern is as follows: AAA BBB CCC DDD EEE. There is an incomplete consonant rhyme (stanzas 1-4) and an incomplete assonant rhyme in stanza 5; in the first stanza lines 2 and 3 represent eye-rhyme. The male complete rhyme goes throughout the poem but line 2 in stanza 3 is dactylic.

As for instrumenting: we notice the assonance of the sound [ai] in time, lilacs, find; [ei] in proclaim, aim; [e] in remember, fogetting and the consonance of the sound [l] in, goal, living, lilacs, proclaim, as well as [n] in mind, comprehend. Still the major consonance is of the sound [m] in me, remember (forgetting me, remember me), which is a case of indirect onomatopoeia. It is possible to conclude that the sound [m] stands for “Mind”.

We can also face several cases of run-on lines.


in time of daffodils ( who know

the goal of living is to grow;

in time of lilacs who proclaim

the aim of waking is to dream;

in time of roses (who amaze

our now and here with paradise.


IV. VOCABULARY: The whole poem is written in neutral standard vocabulary. Still it is rather difficult to grasp the exact meaning of cumming's poem because of its imagery. Here a word and its image create a kind of fusion.

V. THE LEXICAL LEVEL: in time of daffodils in the first stanza is a case of periphrasis. It looks as if the poet is speaking about early spring here. It also can be treated as a metaphor as early spring is the beginning of something new. i n time of lilacs is also a case of periphasis. It stands for “summer” when everything is in bloom. in time of rose' is a periphrasis for “autumn”.

There is a vast number of metaphors in the poem: paradise, sweet things, to dream, waking, seek, find, mystery. There is also a case of personification in the use of the word who.

Sometimes the poet uses metonymy like whatever mind may comprehend which is a case of synecdoche.

VI. THE SYNTACTICAL LEVEL: There are several cases of antithesis built on antonyms in the poem: forgetting why, remember how; remember so (forgetting seem); forgetting if, remember yes; rememeber seek (forgetting find).

e.e. cummings is famous for his paradoxes. The central paradox in this poem is forgeting me, remember me which is built on antonyms.

The poet uses parallel constructions in the 1st, 2nd and 3rd stanzas.

There are a lot of repetitions in this poem. The whole poem is built on anaphora i n time of. The last line of the first stanza is also repeated creating epiphora forgetting why, remember how.

This interesting syntactical structure, called chiasmus, builds the skeleton of the text

remember so (forgetting seem)

forgetting if, remember yes

remember seek (forgetting find)

forgetting me, remember me.

The emotions are getting stronger throughout the poem, so we can speak about emotional gradation. It is quite evident that the colours of the flowers as the central images of the poetic text are getting brighter.

VII. THE MESSAGE: In the end the poet appeals to his addressee (and the reader as well) to remember him. Without being self-absorbed, cummings is sure the that he will never be forgotten. He and his poetry will live on in the hearts of other people.

VIII. CONCLUSION. HOW THE WORDS SHAPE THE MEANING: So using different stylistic devices and expressive means such as consonance, run-on lines, paradoxes, chiasmus, parallel constructions, the Imperative Mood and others, e.e. cummings creates an extraordinary atmosphere. Everything as if merges into a single entity. Together with the poet we experience his feelings and emotions. It's a very beautiful poem about love in which the author managed to fuse the words with their images.

“Symphony in yellow” by O. Wilde An omnibus across the bridgeCrawls like a yellow butterfly,And, here and there, a passer-byShows like a restless little midge. Big barges full of yellow hay,Are moved against the shadowy wharf,And like a yellow silken scarf,The thick fog hangs along the quay. The yellow leaves begin to fade,And flutter from the temple elms,And at my feet the pale green ThamesLies like a rod of rippled jade. 1. Introduction The three-quatrain poem “Symphony in Yellow” came from under the pen of O. Wilde, the outstanding English and Irish poet and playwright of the XIXth c., and distinctly reflects on his involvement in the aesthetic movement (with which yellow colour is associated, by the way). 2. BRIEF INTERPRETATION This is a sketchy description of autumn (some argue it’s spring) in London, emphasizing the light “yellow” patina on everything, that can be regarded as creating the atmosphere characteristic of this time of the year. 3. THE PHONETIC LEVEL The poem is written in iambic tetrametre, with occasional inverted (trochaic) feet (crawls like, shows like), that create a fluctuating pace, making the poem less canonical. The rhyme is framing and mostly male, except for the dactylic ‘butterfly’ and ‘passer-by’; sometimes imperfect (butterfly / passer-by, eye-rhymes hay / quay, wharf / scarf). Alliteration: B ridge big barges butterfly, S ilken scarf, F lutter feet, L ies like, R od of rippled. Consonance: major L, echoing the name of the dominant colour, and rendering the poem a smooth, stream-like flow (cf. the image of the Thames):Craw l s like a ye ll ow butterf l yShows l ike a rest l ess l ittle midgeBig barges fu ll of ye ll ow hay,And l ike a ye ll ow si l ken scarf,The ye ll ow l eaves begin to fade,And f l utter from the Temp l e e l ms,And at my feet the pa l e green Thames L ies l ike a rod of ripp l ed jade. Assonance: an interplay of [i] and [e]: little midge, yellow hay, silken thick, temple elms, feet the pale green Thames, rippled jade 4. VOCABULARY The choice of words is rather sophisticated (mostly literary words), to express rich images (rippled jade, flutter, Temple elms), with the predominance of concrete nouns. All the words (exc. passer-by) are morphologically simple. 5. THE LEXICAL LEVEL The poem is a performance of a sort, with a number of ‘actors’ to which the author’s attention turns. They are: the omnibus, passers-by, big barges, fog, leaves, the Thames. The fitting scenery for the characters is also provided: the bridge, the wharf (the quay), the elms. One could also speak about ‘clothes’ for the characters, represented in similes and many epithets. Two similies in the first stanza (like a yellow butterfly, like a restless little midge), both involving dynamic images of summer insects, are used to characterize the omnibus and an occasional passer-by, making them look volatile and transient (this feeling, by the way, is supported by ‘here and there’). Simile is an important SD here, occurring again in the 2-nd and 3-rd stanzas (like a yellow silken scarf, like a rod of rippled jade) to characterize the fog and the Thames. Very noticeable is the wide use of multisensory epithets (yellow – 4 times, pale green =yellow + blue, consider also nouns jade = green-grey-blue and hay = yellow, restless little, shadowy, silken, rippled). On the whole the epithets and the words ‘fog’, ‘flutter’, ‘fade’ are aimed at setting up an ethereal, transparent atmosphere of an autumn morning. The poem is full of different kinds of movement (crawls, shows, are moved, flutter, ripple), combined with suspense (hangs, fade, lies), also typical of autumn days. 5. THE SYNTACTICAL LEVEL The syntactic constructions are not really varied: mostly compound sentences, with parallel ‘S + P’ arrangement. 6. CONCLUSION This atmospheric poem was apparently meant as an exercise in the art, like an etude in music, and as such, does not aspire after lofty ideas or offer deep insights. What it does put on display, however, is the poet’s skill in capturing the mood infused by nature. It is heavy on verbal imagery, which makes the lexical SDs by far the most elaborate ones. By many it is viewed as an exquisite verbal painting, akin to the impressionist school, and should be simply enjoyed as one.


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