Time, said to be eternal, possess neither a beginning nor an end. Yet however there is a fixation on being able to measure it in years, months, days, hours, minutes and seconds. Trying to save time with new technology, manage time with multi-tasking activities. All in the hopes of giving meanings to the past, present and future. The past is able to been seen but not changed, today is in the present yet still unpredictable, and tomorrow is not guaranteed. If I Could Tell You by W. H. Auden is a villanelle much like others using rhyme, repetition, and meter, that revolve around the main idea of the continuity time and its unforeseeable nature.
The rhyming of the alternating ending lines, “Time will say nothing but I told you so” (1) and “If I could tell you I would let you know” (3) keep the rhyme scheme which stays on the central themes. “Time will say nothing but i told you so” shows that time keeps going, because this is a statement. Although the things of the future are unforeseeable, it is guaranteed that in the end the only one who will know what will happen is Time. “If I could tell you I would let you know” show how unforeseeable Time is. Auden knows that he can not see into the future, which is why he says “If I could...”. These two phrases depict the speakers understanding of the continuity of time even though he shows to have a desire to know ahead of time what to do before certain events. The villanelle itself has a rhythm as a whole through periodical thinking. The beginning shows how Time does not wait for anything or anyone, “nothing but I told you so”. He later goes on to question Time in the second stanza and if we should fight back, which is why he says “weep when clowns put on their show” and “stumble when musicians play” which are juxtapositions since these actions are not likely given the circumstances. The third stanza shows the shift as he begins to understand that Time is necessary and things have to happen for a reason, “the winds must...
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