so i walked out one evening

Topics: Time, W. H. Auden, Chester Kallman Pages: 4 (1303 words) Published: March 18, 2014
The clocks seem to speak for time, but in fact they represent the human marking of time. Time exists as a continuum, but clocks take the concept of time and force a structure on it. In this way, the clocks speak for time far less than they speak for society’s rules and conventions.The formatting of the poem reinforces this notion. The rhyme scheme is an abcb defe pattern that demonstrates the dichotomy between the constant flow of time and the structure forced upon it by society. The unrhymed lines are constantly changing, flowing throughout the piece. The rhymed lines represent the forced structure – the conventions embodied in the clocks. This image of the clocks within the layout of the poem is further enhanced in that the stanzas are consistent throughout the piece, giving it a segmented feel, like minutes counting down. Similarly, the lyrical rhythm of the lines swings back and forth like a pendulum. The structure is flowing and consistent but is unobtrusive, almost to the point of being ignorable. We can read the poem without noticing the formatting, much like we go about our lives ignoring time because society has made it controllable through structure.

The poem also makes use of unconventional capitalization. In the speech of the clocks, “Time” and “Justice” are treated as names, personifying the concepts as in the line “And Time will have his fancy” (31). This personification reinforces the idea of the keeping of time as a human convention, placing the two concepts on the level of people. They are humanized, and so, flawed products of culture. Rather than passing idly by, “Time watches from the shadow / And coughs when you would kiss” (27-28). It is portrayed more as a monster hiding in the closet, springing out to remind you of your inability to defeat it. Time, in this representation, is a cruel master, even a Grim Reaper. This is in defiance of the lover’s declarations of hope and eternal love. “[Time] coughs when you would kiss” (28) says...
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