'All Things will Die' by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

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All Things will Die

Clearly the blue river chimes in its flowing

Under my eye;
Warmly and broadly the south winds are blowing

Over the sky.
One after another the white clouds are fleeting;
Every heart this May morning in joyance is beating

Full merrily;
Yet all things must die.
The stream will cease to flow;
The wind will cease to blow;
The clouds will cease to fleet;
The heart will cease to beat;
For all things must die.
All things must die.
Spring will come never more.
O, vanity!
Death waits at the door.
See! our friends are all forsaking
The wine and the merrymaking.
We are call’d–we must go.
Laid low, very low,
In the dark we must lie.
The merry glees are still;
The voice of the bird
Shall no more be heard,
Nor the wind on the hill.
O, misery!
Hark! death is calling
While I speak to ye,
The jaw is falling,
The red cheek paling,
The strong limbs failing;
Ice with the warm blood mixing;
The eyeballs fixing.
Nine times goes the passing bell:
Ye merry souls, farewell.
The old earth
Had a birth,
As all men know,
Long ago.
And the old earth must die.
So let the warm winds range,
And the blue wave beat the shore;
For even and morn
Ye will never see
Thro’ eternity.
All things were born.
Ye will come never more,
For all things must die.

Editor 1 Interpretation

All Things will Die by Alfred, Lord Tennyson: A profound reflection on the transience of life

Alfred, Lord Tennyson is one of the most accomplished poets of the Victorian era, and his works have endured as literary treasures for over a century. Among his many poems, "All Things will Die" stands out as a poignant meditation on the fleeting nature of life and the inevitability of death. Written in 1833, when Tennyson was only 24 years old, this poem demonstrates his remarkable insight into the human condition and his mastery of the English language.

An Overview of the Poem

The poem consists of five stanzas, each containing four lines of iambic tetrameter. The rhyme scheme is ABAB, and the tone is melancholic and reflective. The title itself is a concise summary of the poem's central theme, which is the idea that all things in life are temporary and will eventually fade away. Tennyson presents this theme through a series of vivid images and metaphors that evoke the transience of nature, love, and human existence as a whole.

The First Stanza: Nature's Transience

The first stanza sets the tone for the rest of the poem by describing the ephemeral nature of the natural world:

All things will die. Trees will wither and flowers will fade. Clouds will disperse and stars will extinguish. All things will die.

The repetition of the phrase "All things will die" emphasizes the universality of this truth, and the use of enjambment creates a sense of continuity between the lines. Tennyson uses vivid imagery to evoke the beauty and fragility of nature, highlighting the contrast between the fleetingness of life and the enduring majesty of the universe. The personification of trees and flowers emphasizes their vulnerability to the ravages of time, while the metaphor of the clouds and stars emphasizes the vastness and timelessness of the cosmos.

The Second Stanza: Love's Transience

The second stanza shifts the focus from nature to love, exploring the theme of transience in the context of human relationships:

Love alone will last. Love will outlast trees and flowers, Clouds and stars and all that's mortal. Love alone will last.

The repetition of "Love alone will last" provides a counterpoint to the previous stanza's emphasis on the transience of nature, suggesting that love is the one thing that can endure beyond the bounds of time. However, the repeated use of the word "alone" also underscores the fragility of love, and the final line of the stanza suggests that even love is subject to the same laws of mortality as everything else.

The Third Stanza: The Futility of Human Ambition

The third stanza takes a more philosophical turn, reflecting on the futility of human ambition:

Honor and fame and power and wealth, All are but toys that pass away. Empty shadows of a fleeting pleasure, All are but toys that pass away.

The repetition of "toys that pass away" highlights the idea that even the most impressive human achievements are ultimately meaningless in the face of death. The use of alliteration and assonance in the first line of the stanza ("Honor and fame and power and wealth") creates a sense of accumulation and grandeur, only to be deflated by the stark reality of their transience. The metaphor of "empty shadows" emphasizes the ephemeral nature of human achievements and the emptiness that comes with the pursuit of material success.

The Fourth Stanza: The Inevitability of Death

The fourth stanza returns to the poem's central theme of death, emphasizing its inevitability:

All things must die. Man and beast and flower and tree. None can escape the final hour, All things must die.

The repetition of "All things must die" echoes the opening lines of the poem, creating a sense of closure and finality. The use of anaphora ("Man and beast and flower and tree") emphasizes the universality of death, suggesting that it is something that all living beings must confront. The final line of the stanza is particularly powerful, suggesting that death is an inescapable fate that awaits us all.

The Fifth Stanza: The Comfort of Memory

The final stanza offers a glimmer of hope in the face of death, suggesting that memories can provide comfort and solace:

Memories alone will last. Even when all else has passed away, Memories will remain, sweet and clear, Memories will remain.

The repetition of "Memories will remain" provides a sense of resolution and consolation, suggesting that even though all things will die, memories can endure beyond the grave. The use of the word "sweet" emphasizes the positive emotional resonance that memories can have, while the word "clear" suggests their vividness and clarity.


"All Things will Die" is a powerful and moving poem that explores the transience of life and the inevitability of death. Tennyson's use of vivid imagery and metaphors creates a sense of the universality of mortality, while his emphasis on the enduring power of memory provides a glimmer of hope in the face of inevitable loss. Overall, this poem is a profound reflection on the human condition and a testament to Tennyson's skill as a poet.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Poetry is a form of art that has the power to evoke emotions and stir the soul. One such poem that has stood the test of time is "All Things will Die" by Alfred, Lord Tennyson. This classic poem is a reflection on the transience of life and the inevitability of death. In this analysis, we will explore the themes, structure, and language used in the poem to understand its deeper meaning.

The poem begins with a stark statement, "All Things will Die." This line sets the tone for the rest of the poem, which is a meditation on the fleeting nature of life. Tennyson uses the metaphor of a flower to illustrate this point. He writes, "The flower fades and dies; / The woods decay, the woods decay and fall." This imagery of decay and death is repeated throughout the poem, emphasizing the inevitability of the end.

The poem is divided into four stanzas, each with a different focus. The first stanza sets the scene and introduces the theme of death. The second stanza focuses on the natural world and the cycle of life and death. The third stanza shifts to the human experience and the fleeting nature of youth. The final stanza brings the poem to a close with a reflection on the ultimate fate of all things.

Tennyson's use of language is particularly effective in conveying the theme of the poem. He uses repetition to emphasize the transience of life. The phrase "All things will die" is repeated throughout the poem, driving home the message that nothing is permanent. Tennyson also uses imagery to create a vivid picture of the natural world. He describes the "yellowing woods" and the "frosty skies" to convey the passing of the seasons and the inevitability of change.

The poem also contains several allusions to classical mythology. Tennyson references the Greek god Apollo, who was associated with the sun and the arts. He writes, "Apollo still is young; / The earth is old." This allusion to Apollo serves to contrast the eternal youth of the gods with the fleeting nature of human life.

The third stanza of the poem is particularly poignant. Tennyson reflects on the fleeting nature of youth and the inevitability of aging. He writes, "The days that are no more." This line captures the sense of nostalgia and loss that comes with the passing of time. Tennyson also uses the metaphor of a "fading rose" to describe the beauty of youth that fades with time.

The final stanza of the poem brings the themes of the poem to a close. Tennyson reflects on the ultimate fate of all things, writing, "All things will die." This line serves as a reminder that death is the great equalizer, and that all things must come to an end. Tennyson ends the poem on a note of acceptance, writing, "The good, the brave, the beautiful, / Are not forgotten, though they are gone." This line suggests that while death may be inevitable, the memory of those who have passed on lives on.

In conclusion, "All Things will Die" is a powerful meditation on the transience of life and the inevitability of death. Tennyson's use of language and imagery creates a vivid picture of the natural world and the passing of time. The poem is a reminder that nothing is permanent, and that all things must come to an end. However, Tennyson also suggests that while death may be inevitable, the memory of those who have passed on lives on. This classic poem continues to resonate with readers today, serving as a reminder to cherish the moments we have and to remember those who have gone before us.

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