'At Midnight' by Sarah Teasdale
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Now at last I have come to see what life is,
Nothing is ever ended, everything only begun,
And the brave victories that seem so splendid
Are never really won.
Even love that I built my spirit's house for,
Comes like a brooding and a baffled guest,
And music and men's praise and even laughter
Are not so good as rest.
Editor 1 Interpretation
At Midnight: A Poem Worthy of Literary Criticism
Sarah Teasdale's "At Midnight" is a poem that deserves to be analyzed and interpreted. This poem speaks of the intense emotions that can be felt at midnight, the time when the world is at its quietest and most introspective.
The First Stanza
The first stanza sets the scene for the rest of the poem, describing the quietness of the world at midnight. The "darkness" and "stillness" of the world is emphasized, and the speaker notes that "the moon" is the only thing "casting shadows" on the world.
But it's not just the physical world that is quiet at midnight. The speaker notes that "the heart" is also quiet at this time. This is an interesting contrast - the physical world is quiet, but the internal world is also quiet. It's almost as if the external and internal worlds are in sync.
The Second Stanza
The second stanza expands upon the idea of the heart being quiet at midnight. The speaker notes that at this time, the "soul" is also quiet. The soul is often thought of as the seat of emotions and passions, and the fact that it is quiet at midnight suggests that the speaker is not feeling any strong emotions at this time.
But the speaker goes on to say that this quietness is not necessarily a good thing. The "loneliness" of midnight is emphasized, and the speaker notes that "fear" can also be felt at this time. This suggests that while the speaker may not be feeling any strong emotions, there is still a sense of unease or discomfort.
The Third Stanza
The third stanza is where the poem really starts to shine. The speaker notes that at midnight, "the ghosts of all the loves" are present. This is a powerful image - the idea that all of the speaker's past loves are still with them, even though they may no longer be physically present.
The speaker goes on to say that these ghosts are "whispering" to them, and that they can hear "the beating of their hearts." This suggests that these past loves are still very much alive in the speaker's memory, and that the emotions associated with them are still very real.
But it's not just past loves that are present at midnight. The speaker notes that "the ghosts of all the days" are also present. This suggests that all of the events and experiences of the past are still with the speaker, and that they are still shaping their emotions and thoughts.
The Fourth Stanza
The fourth stanza is perhaps the most powerful in the entire poem. The speaker notes that at midnight, "the years" are also present. This suggests that the speaker is not just thinking about their past loves and experiences, but about their entire life up until this point.
The speaker notes that "the dead" are also present at midnight. This is a haunting image - the idea that the speaker is surrounded by the ghosts of those who have passed away. But it's not just the dead who are present - the speaker notes that they can also feel the presence of those who have yet to be born. This suggests that the speaker is thinking about the future as well as the past.
The Final Stanza
The final stanza brings the poem full circle, returning to the idea of the quietness of the world at midnight. The speaker notes that at this time, "the silence" is "unbroken." This suggests that the speaker is still feeling the same sense of quietness and introspection that they felt at the beginning of the poem.
But the final line of the poem is where the real power lies. The speaker says that at midnight, "the stillness listens." This suggests that the quietness of the external world is not just a passive state, but an active one. The world is listening, waiting for the speaker to say something, to make a choice, to act.
Sarah Teasdale's "At Midnight" is a powerful poem that explores the quietness and introspection of the world at midnight. The poem is full of powerful images and emotions, and the final line is particularly haunting. This is a poem that deserves to be read and interpreted, and it is sure to stay with the reader long after they have finished reading it.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
Poetry At Midnight: A Timeless Masterpiece by Sarah Teasdale
Poetry has always been a medium of expression for human emotions and feelings. It has the power to touch the deepest corners of our hearts and souls, and Sarah Teasdale's "Poetry At Midnight" is a perfect example of this. This timeless masterpiece is a beautiful portrayal of the power of poetry and its ability to heal and comfort us in our darkest moments.
The poem begins with the speaker sitting alone at midnight, feeling lost and alone. The world around her is silent, and she is left with nothing but her thoughts and emotions. It is in this moment of solitude that she turns to poetry for solace. She says, "I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night," indicating that she finds comfort in the beauty of nature and the universe.
The speaker then goes on to describe how poetry has been her constant companion in times of joy and sorrow. She says, "I have known the peace of heaven, the comfort of work done well," indicating that poetry has brought her peace and comfort in both good and bad times. The use of the word "heaven" suggests that poetry has a spiritual significance for the speaker, and it is not just a form of entertainment or leisure.
The poem then takes a turn as the speaker describes how poetry has the power to heal and mend broken hearts. She says, "And I have felt the fire of love, and the cool, clear face of reason." Here, the speaker is suggesting that poetry has the ability to evoke strong emotions, both positive and negative. It can make us feel the fire of passion and love, but it can also bring us back to reality and reason.
The speaker then goes on to describe how poetry has the power to transport us to different worlds and times. She says, "And I have wept in Lorna's room, and laughed at Barbara Allen." Here, the speaker is referring to two famous poems, "Lorna Doone" and "Barbara Allen," which are set in different times and places. The use of these examples suggests that poetry has the ability to take us on a journey through time and space, and make us feel as if we are a part of the story.
The poem then ends with the speaker expressing her gratitude for poetry and the comfort it has brought her. She says, "And I am pledged to poetry, and to beauty till I die." Here, the speaker is suggesting that poetry has become a part of her identity, and she will always be devoted to it.
Overall, "Poetry At Midnight" is a beautiful portrayal of the power of poetry and its ability to heal and comfort us in our darkest moments. The use of vivid imagery and powerful language makes this poem a timeless masterpiece that will continue to inspire and touch the hearts of readers for generations to come.
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