“Ode to Evening”
“Ode to Evening,” written by William Collins, is an example of early romantic poem and inspired many other odes in the eighteenth century. Many students find this poem challenging to analyze because of the different kind of language apart from a complex syntax. The poem is an ode to the shift from morning to evening where the most beautiful and insightful parts are the pastoral setting, the images of a turning time, and the certainty of the night.
The first stanza amply depicts the pastoral environment of the poem. The first line says, “If aught of oaten stop, or pastoral song” (Collins line 1) which reminds me of morning at the countryside where I can hear roosters crowing and birds chirping. The ear is “modest” (Collins 2) as nature humbles me, realizing that I am smaller the expanse of nature. The songs of nature are soft and soothing; they are superior to the mechanical noise of the cities. The springs are “solemn” (Collins 3) as they murmur the history of nature through the eras. They are sacred in how they have been here before people and how they would stay unless they are destroyed. The sun has its beautiful hair, sitting and waiting like a bride. I love how the beauty of the rural setting seems magical in its strength and permanence as it gives way to the darkness.
The turning time has powerful, immense images. Spring is showering (Collins 41), underlining the dewy nature of time that flows. The Tresses (Collins 42) are breathing as they are alive, while the “meekest Eve” (Collins 42) seems like a shy woman, coy and waiting. Spring is beautiful in preparation for the conversion of the season to summer. “Summer” is sporty (Collins 43) and active. It speaks of the activities of its time as if I can imagine the sports and spending long hours and nights at the beach. The light of the Summer lingers as if it does not want to go away like people who hates summers to end. Autumn is “sallow” (Collins 45) as it appears to die before Winter comes with “yelling” (Collins 46). Sallow depicts the drying of the trees, the last breath before the coldness sets in. The winter winds are strong and cold. The “shrinking Train” (Collins 47) means the numbness and deaths from the cold, though all these are seasons that are natural and unstoppable. The changing seasons are breathtaking in their powerful images.
Night is certain and has its distinct comforts. The night has a “quiet Rule” (Collins 49) which means it is tranquil as it exists for a specific duration. However, the alliterations tell of the permanence of every night that comes from the “Robes” to the “Rule” (Collins 48, 49). The majestic night rules throughout a specific period. The night, nevertheless, has its allure with “Fancy” and “Friendship” (Collins 50) as it is time for friends and lovers. The “gentlest influence” is how it affects people’s moods from passionate to sleepiness and so beloved is the “Name” (Collins 52). The speaker of the poem loves the night as it offers a certain beauty that day cannot.
“Ode to Evening” is a remarkable depiction of the night’s coming. While day slips out as gently and strongly as seasons, the evening has its uncanny attraction. The darkness should not scare people but tell them of what can be done when night comes and before sunlight breaks it again. Terrors should be absent as long as one is in a safe place or the company of friends. Nature in its shroud offers tantalizing possibilities. Night rules and so should every person who is in command of how he/she shall spend the evening.
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