Poetry Analysis


Big Question:

What are the concerns and situations of the speaker?

John Keats and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow each muse about their imminent deaths in these poems, but their approaches are rather different.

Devices: Assonance, metaphor, listing (enumeration)

Keats and Longfellow each reflect on the passage of time, but while Keats focuses on the missed opportunity that faces him, Longfellow discusses the ultimate affect of time’s passage: death.

Paragraph 1:

Visual imagery in both poems convey diverging feelings about the passage of time, but maintain a similar understanding of missed chances.


Imagery of  potential literary accomplishments:

“Before my pen has gleaned my teeming brain,
Before high-pilèd books, in charactery”–Conveys the things he’d like to do, but he worries he may never have the opportunity


“then on the shore
Of the wide world I stand alone, and think”–he must focus on living life instead of merely allowing it to pass him by


Imagery: “The aspiration of my youth, to build
Some tower of song with lofty parapet”—A similar discussion of missed opportunity, but he is much more vague.  Longfellow’s aspiration seems more unattainable.

Metaphor: “And hear above me on the autumnal blast
The cataract of Death far thundering from the heights.”—Autumnal refers to a late-middle age in his life, and he feels death quickly approaching.

Paragraph 2: Personification reveal their differing opinions of the passage of time, one being empowered and the other facing their ultimate demise.


Personification: “When I behold, upon the night’s starred face,
Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance”–Feels there is beauty all around him.

Personification: “And when I feel, fair creature of an hour,
That I shall never look upon thee more,
Never have relish in the faery power”—Personifies mystery being and feels a deep appreciation for the world he’s departing


“Though, half-way up the hill, I see the Past
Lying beneath me with its sounds and sights,—
A city in the twilight dim and vast,”—–The past is not an actual human, but has characteristics that reveal humanity. He feels a darkness about the passage of time.




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