AD's English Literature : William Collins's "ODE TO EVENING" : Analysing Rhetoric

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

William Collins's "ODE TO EVENING" : Analysing Rhetoric


 
Ode to Evening
by William Collins


If aught of oaten stop or pastoral song
May hope, chaste Eve, to soothe thy modest ear,
Like thy own solemn springs,
Thy springs, and dying gales,
O nymph reserved, while now the bright-haired sun
Sits in yon western tent, whose cloudy skirts,
With brede ethereal wove,
O'erhang his wavy bed:

Now air is hushed, save where the weak-eyed bat

With short shrill shriek flits by on leathern wing,
Or where the beetle winds
His small but sullen horn,
As oft he rises 'midst the twilight path,
Against the pilgrim borne in heedless hum:
Now teach me, maid composed,
To breathe some softened strain,
Whose numbers stealing through thy dark'ning vale
May not unseemly with its stillness suit,
As, musing slow, I hail
Thy genial loved return!

For when thy folding-star arising shows

His paly circlet, at his warning lamp
The fragrant hours, and elves
Who slept in buds the day,
And many a nymph who wreathes her brows with sedge
And sheds the fresh'ning dew, and lovelier still,
The pensive pleasures sweet
Prepare thy shadowy car.

Then let me rove some wild and heathy scene,

Or find some ruin 'midst its dreary dells,
Whose walls more awful nod
By thy religious gleams.
Or if chill blust'ring winds or driving rain
Prevent my willing feet, be mine the hut
That from the mountain's side
Views wilds and swelling floods
And hamlets brown and dim-discovered spires,
And hears their simple bell, and marks o'er all
Thy dewy fingers draw
The gradual dusky veil.

While Spring shall pour his showers, as oft he wont,

And bathe thy breathing tresses, meekest Eve;
While Summer loves to sport
Beneath thy lingering light;
While sallow Autumn fills thy lap with leaves;
Or Winter, yelling through the troublous air,
Affrights thy shrinking train
And rudely rends thy robes;
So long, regardful of thy quiet rule,
Shall fancy, friendship, science, smiling peace,
Thy gentlest influence own,
And love thy favourite name!


 William Collins(1721-1759) is the first definite break with the classic convention which had been triumphant for the inspiriting freshness which came later with Wordsworth and Coleridge .

‘ If  ought of oaten stop, or pastoral song
May hope , chaste Eye, to soothe thy modest ear,

      This is a case of Apostrophe, since the abstract entity had been addressed as a person or deity .Evening has been addressed as  Eve.

      This is also a case of periphrasis or circumlocution . A flute has been referred to not by usual name but in a round about manner as an ‘oaten stop’

      This is also a case of transferred  epithet . The adjective ‘modest’ properly belongs to ‘Eve’.

    ‘O nymph reserved, while now the bright-haired sun
Sits in yon western tent, whose cloudy skirts,'

      This is a case of personification since the sun is referred to as a person sitting in a tent .

      This is also a case of Metaphor since the sun is implicitly compared to a person with bright hair.

          'Or where the beetle winds
His small but sullen horn,
As oft he rises 'midst the twilight path,
Against the pilgrim borne in heedless hum:,
'

      There are two cases of Transferred Epithet here. in the first case'sullen' or silent is not the horn but the eve herself. In the second case it the ‘beetle’ which  is heedless, and not the ‘hum.

    'For when thy folding –star arising shows.'

      This is the case of circumlocution . The evening- star- evening has been so refered because at the right of the  evening star the shepherds bring the sheep back to the folds.

    ‘The fragrant Hours, and elves’

      This is a case of Transferred Epithet since it is the air which is ‘fragrant’ and not the ‘Hours’

       This is a case of personification since ‘Hours’ has been referred to as a deity, perhaps from the  Latin God of time, ‘Cronus’

    'The pensive Pleasures sweet,
prepare thy shadowy car .'

      This is primarily a case of  Oxymoron  .

The two opposite words ‘pensive’ and pleasure’ have been juxtaposed  for the sake of effect .

    ‘Then lead, calm vot’ress, where some sheety lake…’

      This is a case of personification.

    ‘Prevent my willing feet, be mine the hut

       This is a case of Transferred Epithet.  It is not the ‘ feet but the person who is willing.

       This is  a case of synecdoche , which substitutes part for the whole. The  ‘ feet’ stand for the person  .

    ‘And hears their simple bell ‘………

This is a case of transferred Epithet  since it is the people of the hamlet which is simple and not the ‘bell’.

    'The dewy fingers draw
The gradual dusky veil .'

     This is a case of personification since the evening is referred to as drawings or  pulling the dusky veil.She is personified as Goddess with heavenly qualities.


  'While Spring shall pour his showers, as oft he wont,
And bathe thy breathing tresses, meekest Eve;'

    This is a case of personification . Here ‘summer’ ‘spring’, ‘autumn’ and ‘winter’ are referred to as persons . Eve is also referred to as a lady- 'meekest  Eve’ .

   So long, regardful of thy quiet rule,
Shall fancy, friendship, science, smiling peace,'

    This is a case of personification . Here ‘ Fancy’ , ‘friendship’, ‘Science’ and ‘Health’ have all been referred to as person .







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