Ode to Evening

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  • Topic: Poetry
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Tuesday, March 6, 2007
Ode to Evening - William Collins

“Ode to Evening,” is one among the most enduring poems of William Collins. It is a beautiful poem of fifty-two lines, addressed to a goddess figure representing evening. This nymph, or maid, who personifies dusk, is chaste, reserv’d, and meek, in contrast to the bright-hair’d sun, a male figure who withdraws into his tent, making way for night. Thus evening is presented as the transition between light and darkness.

Collins’ Construction of Evening:

Collins slowly constructs Evening as an allegorical figure with many attributes, and many aural and visual characteristics. Collins piles up epithets; Eve is “chaste,”
her ear is “modest.”
The figure of Eve so far is only yet a sketch, but her attributes add up to the idea of an attractive, calm woman who is not restless or forcefully active. Contrast of Evening with the Daytime:

According to the poet, Evening possesses “solemn springs” and “dying gales” Daytime activity gives way to calm as the wind literally often dies down in the evening. Some activity now supplements our picture of Eve. The gentle movements of water and the air ensure that her figure is not static. Eve’s contrast with the daytime world is even more obvious when Collins compares her to the setting sun. The glaring “bright-haired sun” sits regally in his tent of clouds, the “skirts” or edges of which seem to be made of many-colored braided cloth. This ethereal (heavenly) cloth evokes a picture of a vivid sunset; the sun is descending to its “wavy bed,” behind an ocean or lake. The day is almost done, and the sun not at the height of vigor (he is in his tent), but the implication is that he rests only after an active day.

The Journey of the Pilgrim into the world of Evening:

After the sunset, at “twilight,” the world is not yet attuned to Eve’s mood. The air is hushed, except for some annoying sounds: the bat’s...
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