Tone and Metaphors in ‘a Litany in Time of Plague'

Topics: Life, Prayer, Metaphor Pages: 2 (472 words) Published: February 12, 2006
Tone and metaphors play a critical role in the poem, "A Litany in Time of Plague". The tone of the poem helps set up some of the metaphors, and the metaphors help to reinforce the tone. Throughout the poem, one can find readily find examples setting the tone and several distinguishable metaphors. In this poem the tone and metaphors complement one another very well and go hand in hand in making this poem dramatic and meaningful.

The tone in, " A Litany in Time of Plague", is prayerful and gloomy. The poem is full of references to death and despair. The most obvious one is the line " I am sick, I must die", followed by "Lord have mercy on us!", not only do these lines adds to the depressing mood of the poem, but also gives it a uniformity, almost like a prayer. The repetition of the line " I am sick, I must die", drills the fact of inevitable death into the reader's head. It shows that death is the common factor between all human beings, rich or poor, big or small, intelligent or dumb, all people will eventually die no matter what. Line 11 is one of the strongest lines regarding the tone of a gloomy and unavoidable death. When the author says " All things to end are made", the author is showing us that all things will perish and end in this life, which makes the reader feel a sense of bitter sadness that what they work for will eventually disappear.

The use of metaphors in "A Litany in Time of Plague" enforce the brevity and impermanence of life. The line, "Beauty is but a flower" , signifies that appearances in life will eventually wither and die like a flower will, but like a flower that beauty can "grow" again in the next "season". This subconscious reference to an afterlife is evident with the metaphoric line " Earth but a player's stage". By saying this, the author is inferring that life on earth is like a play or an act, preparing mankind for the afterlife. This poem is a metaphor in itself, it is making a reference to the fact that people only...
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