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If I Could Tell You W. H. Auden Overall Themes/Ideas The poem discusses a number of ideas surrounding time

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If I Could Tell You ? W. H. Auden Overall Themes/Ideas The poem discusses a number of ideas surrounding time, and the ability to see into the future, and learn from things. It can also be seen as a love poem between Auden and his prospective lover, Kallam. It depicts a kind of wisdom, or can be seen as showing a know-it-all attitude. Conversely, it can even be seen as saying ?we don?t know what the future may hold, just run with it.? Interesting Ideas/Features Time Time is vital to the poem, as it is what is discussed most. 1. ?Time? - Time is a proper noun whenever it is mentioned in the poem; it is personified. Time can be seen throughout the poem as something which cannot be stopped, represented by the themes of repetition and death which come up throughout. Time is made to feel almost like a God, something supernatural over which we have no control. Only it knows our future, and we can never know, only in hindsight can we help others. Even then, we cannot tell them what to do. Time is over-arching and always there, it is the essence of life and surrounds you. ...read more.


The poem has a definite pace, representative of the pace of time, which is constant and cannot be halted or stopped. The restrictive form of the poem contrasts against its emotional message, which is one of more unrestrictive love and a willingness to just ?go for it?. However, it serves to remind us that time is always there and will always restrict us in some ways. The sense of urgency created from the repetition and use of enjambment conveys the true message of the poem, to love while you have the chance. Time is restrictive, so perhaps the message of the poem is that we should do our best to love and live within the restraints of time, rather than trying to supersede it. There is no definite narrative or story about the poem. The poem can therefore be seen as a skeleton or example for stories. It suggests a message though. Use of Modal Verbs, Conditionals, Imperatives and Rhetorical Questions Blah blah blah. ?Should, could?- The use of modal verbs is very important within the poem. It gives the narrative a feel of uncertainty; that even with the passage of time and the power of hindsight we cannot truly know what will happen in the future. ...read more.


Contrasting Language ?Weep, Decay? - This use of ?dark? and depressing language is used throughout the poem to give it a more sombre tone. However, this is juxtaposed next to the childish language associated with the carnival ?clowns, lions etc?. This could be symbolic, illustrating how the reality of time would cast fear over people if it were not for the presence of love. Love, perhaps, is one thing which can stem the flow of time and stop it becoming too depressing. The overall tone of the poem does seem somewhat pessimistic on face value, and the carnival language can be seen as rather unnerving rather than comforting. However, when looked at more deeply, there is a small amount of hope professed in the poem, no matter how small it is! The verb ?decay? is also significant. The decaying of leaves relates to the cyclical nature of time and death. It is unavoidable and a process that happens again and again, showing the unrelenting nature of Time. Confusing Syntax ?Because I love you? I would let you know? ? This part of the third stanza uses complicated and confusing syntax in order to make the reader refrain, and perhaps read over it again. This therefore forces the reader to seriously contemplate what they are actually reading ...read more.

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