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Classic and Contemporary Poetry: Explained

A SABBATH DAY; IN FIVE WATCHES, by             Poet Analysis     Poet's Biography

"A Sabbath Day; in Five Watches" is a poem by John Drinkwater, an English poet and playwright who lived from 1882 to 1937. The poem was published in 1919 and is a meditation on the nature of time and the human experience.

Context:

The poem was written in the aftermath of World War I, a global conflict that had a profound impact on European society and culture. Many poets and writers of the time were deeply affected by the suffering and loss that the war caused, and the poem can be seen as a reflection on the fragility of human existence in the face of violence and chaos.

Content:

"A Sabbath Day; in Five Watches" is a poem that is structured around the idea of time passing, and the human experience of living through that passing of time. The poem is divided into five sections, or "watches," each of which represents a different stage in the day and in the speaker's life. 

First Watch:

The first watch represents the beginning of the day, and the speaker's sense of wonder and awe at the natural world. The speaker describes the beauty of the sunrise and the birdsong, and reflects on the idea that time is both infinite and fleeting.

Second Watch:

The second watch represents mid-morning, and the speaker's reflections on the past and the future. The speaker reflects on the transience of human life, and the idea that time is always moving forward.

Third Watch:

The third watch represents midday, and the speaker's sense of restlessness and uncertainty. The speaker reflects on the changing seasons, and the idea that life is always in a state of flux.

Fourth Watch:

The fourth watch represents late afternoon, and the speaker's reflections on mortality and the passage of time. The speaker reflects on the beauty and mystery of the natural world, and the idea that even the most enduring things are subject to change.

Fifth Watch:

The fifth watch represents the end of the day, and the speaker's sense of peace and acceptance. The speaker reflects on the idea that time is both infinite and cyclical, and that every ending is also a beginning.

The poem reflects on the beauty and mystery of the natural world, as well as the fleeting nature of human experience.

Form:

The poem is written in free verse, with no consistent rhyme scheme or meter. The lack of formal structure reflects the idea that time is both infinite and chaotic, and underscores the sense of uncertainty and transience that the poem explores. The poem is also notable for its use of imagery and metaphor, which help to convey the sense of wonder and awe that the speaker feels when contemplating the natural world.

Poetic Elements:

Drinkwater makes use of a variety of poetic devices in "A Sabbath Day; in Five Watches," including imagery, metaphor, and repetition. The repeated use of the phrase "watch" helps to give the poem a sense of structure and continuity, while the use of metaphor helps to convey the speaker's sense of wonder and awe at the natural world. The poem is filled with vivid descriptions of the natural world, including images of birds, flowers, and trees.

Summary:

"A Sabbath Day; in Five Watches" is a thought-provoking meditation on the nature of time and the human experience. Drinkwater's use of language and imagery is particularly effective in conveying the sense of wonder and awe that the speaker feels when contemplating the natural world. The poem is also notable for its emphasis on the fleeting nature of human experience, and its exploration of the relationship between time and memory. Overall, "A Sabbath Day; in Five Watches" is a moving and beautifully written poem that speaks to the universal experiences of human existence.

 


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