“As I walked out one evening”, is striking poem that expresses and exploits some of the restrictions time places upon man. Written during the mid-1930s, “As I walked out one evening” is one of W. H. Auden’s early works. The work indirectly illustrates times effect on man by using different speakers as well as other reference that play a variable in time. The essence of time is portrayed through Auden’s use of form, structure, language and personification to demonstrate the effect of time.
Form is critical to any piece of literature, and in “As I Walked Out One Evening” the form allows the essential tone to be set. The form used by Auden is elegiac, typically associated with morning. (Fleissner)The mournful form makes it clear it wishes to stop time. “As I walked out” is told in the first person, giving a personal feeling as if the author is talking directly to the reader. The poem is relayed by unidentified personas witnessing the events as they take place, without personally being involved in them, which places the poem in the narrative genre. (Fleissner) In order for form to have its full effect on the poem, the structure is essential.
Structure influences “As I walked out one evening” with its use of quatrains. Structure is often referred to as the framework of a literary work. It is a literary ballad written in the form of ABCB quatrains and other elements of a lyric poem. Each stanza is four lines long and is subliminally an illustration of the consistency of time. (Fleissner) Auden’s use of a masculine end rhyme conforms to the standard criteria used in literary ballads. Iambic trimeter is the most common meter used but, the meter of the different quatrains is both varied and comple...
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...cussed but, it seems that the lovers will share the night together.The lovers time together would be more meaningful if they knew the lack of time they have together. The poem ends by noting that “the deep river ran on,” suggesting a eternity or a broader history in which the lovers are just one small part. At the same time we have learned that even the river will one day be no more. Nothing is safe from the grasps of time except the memories we create during the span of life.
Time acts as an illusion to many humans. Time should not restrict our actions or feelings. As the countdown of life continues on, one must recognize that the fulfillment in life is not in the years lived but, the memories experienced. Life is about relationships and the love produced from them not by years of marriage. Life may be temporary but, memories and love live on forever in eternity.
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