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If I Could Tell You Analysis



Author: poem of W.H. Auden Type: poem Views: 24

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Time will say nothing but I told you so,

Time only knows the price we have to pay;

If I could tell you I would let you know.



If we should weep when clowns put on their show,

If we should stumble when musicians play,

Time will say nothing but I told you so.



There are no fortunes to be told, although,

Because I love you more than I can say,

If I could tell you I would let you know.



The winds must come from somewhere when they blow,

There must be reasons why the leaves decay;

Time will say nothing but I told you so.



Perhaps the roses really want to grow,

The vision seriously intends to stay;

If I could tell you I would let you know.



Suppose all the lions get up and go,

And all the brooks and soldiers run away;

Will Time say nothing but I told you so?

If I could tell you I would let you know.






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||| Analysis | Critique | Overview Below |||

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| Posted on 2017-05-30 | by a guest


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One way the poet uses language techniques in the poem ‘If I Could tell you’ is personification and gives time human qualities ‘time will say nothing but I told you so’ the poet expresses that we don’t know our own futures. Maybe if people were to know what was coming we would change it.

| Posted on 2015-03-10 | by a guest


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The most beautiful line in this poem are (if you ask me) the following:
"If we should weep when clowns put on their show,
If we should stumble when musicians play"
With these lines, Auden expresses that we can't know the future. If we were to know what was comming, maybe we would react differently when good things were happening to us, because we'd know what was following. We might cry when clowns put on their show...

| Posted on 2014-02-23 | by a guest


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This is my interpretation of the poem:
When you\'re feeling low, down and out, or feeling on top of the world, time will change those things. Whatever you feel in life is temporary- Because time is the only constant, time and all aspects of it, whether that be the changing of the seasons and how nature plays its part, or literally the constant running of time which never stops, never falters. The narrator is essentially calling out to people who are having a bad run of things and saying essentially that time is moving on just the same and they won\'t always feel that way. They may feel better, or worse, but either way, through time it will change. The narrator is saying that if he could give people answers he would. The imagery of contrasts to me just symbolises that moment when you\'re so low, that things that are meant to make you happy have a way of dragging you down. You see a happy couple walking hand in hand; you hear church bells, and it makes you miserable because it is not you. It does not change your own life.

| Posted on 2012-11-07 | by a guest


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The true meaning of this poem lies behind the personification of time. The speaker simply does not know how to reply to his subject\'s implied question \"What will happen in the future?\" Only time can tell; he is not a fortune teller. Time is this autonomous being that calls the shots for everyone, no matter how absurd the circumstances (weeping at clowns rather than laughing, stumbling to music rather than dancing). The irony, however, is that the poem is a villanelle- it is rigidly structured, which would ordinarily signify a definite, assertive answer. But the answer is simply \"I don\'t know\".
Language
We are led through a series of images in which the fickleness of time is examined. Look for personification, repetition and juxtaposed imagery. (leaves decaying/roses growing. Weeping at clowns instead of laughing at them, stumbling instead of dancing to music).

Form
The villanelle one of the most difficult forms to write in English poetry. It has a very tight structure: 5 stanzas of 3 lines then a quatrain to finish. The rhyming system only has 2 rhymes and follows the pattern ABA except at the end, where a rhyming couplet concludes the poem. The first and third lines are usually repeated throughout the poem. It could be argued that the formal requirements of the villanelle make the speaker seem steadfast and loyal against the fickleness of Time. The repetition seems to give the poem a contemplative or meditative quality which brings a depth to the poem Time, as a concept, is being explored.

Structure
Look at the repetition the form brings a structure to the poem where we are led from a statement at the start of the poem, through a series of images, to a concluding couplet.

Characters
Time is personified Time knows the price we have to pay. There is also the character of the speaker. Perhaps the rigid form of the villanelle makes the speaker seem steadfast and loyal while Time seems fickle. Perhaps the form also brings a sense of inevitability to the poem The changes that Time brings are inevitable. Who are the I, we and you of the poem

Voices
The voice of the poet is the dominant voice and this contrasts with Time saying nothing but I told you so. The speaker blames Time for the unwanted changes in life. Is the you a lover?

| Posted on 2012-05-12 | by a guest


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The poem is about regret of not doing something in one\'s life. Time will not wait for anybody and thus, people should treasure whatever they have. E.g. Love. The modal verb contains very heavy meanings. It re-emphasizes the guilt and regret of the speaker. Nature imagery are prevalent. Signifies that time will continue running. Line 10 and 11 indicates the speaker\'s incomprehension of how time works. Since everything must have a reason to exist/happen, but there is none in the case of \"time\". That leads to the poem being unresolved.

| Posted on 2012-05-10 | by a guest


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I agree with the first analysis. Little Nella is an extremely troubled little girl what with her shaking bum bum and nakey issues. This is a truly inspirational poem about cutesiness.

| Posted on 2012-01-20 | by a guest


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this poem is clearly about how little nella is super cutesy. and it also has symbolism in the part where she shakes her bum bum, it means that drip drip is yummsy yum and she likes to walk around nakey

| Posted on 2012-01-02 | by a guest


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Auden\'s narrative methods involve the use of techniques such as narrative voices to express time as a metaphor that carries a deeper meaning of power and fearfulness. His use of repetition of the word \'time\' helps to emphasize its importance and how it separates the two lovers.

| Posted on 2011-11-15 | by a guest


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Auden\'s narrative methods involve the use of techniques such as narrative voices to express time as a metaphor that carries a deeper meaning of power and fearfulness. His use of repetition of the word \'time\' helps to emphasize its importance and how it separates the two lovers.

| Posted on 2011-11-15 | by a guest


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In the Poem Auden describes the power of time to destroy anything it feels like at random. By taking a strong emotion such as love, and using repetition shows how time literally has the power to destroy it.

| Posted on 2011-03-29 | by a guest


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The poem is set as a Villanelle form. This restrictive form contrasts against the emotional message of the poem.
The regular rhyming scheme of the poem, ABAAB, and the use of enjambment sets the pace of the poem, this could symbolically represent time passing by, and how it is a constant whereas love is merely temporary.
The repetition of the line If I could tell you I would let you know, is significant. It increases times potency and makes the message more meaningful. The use of conditionals such as If and should which are repeated throughout the
He only mentions love once, suggesting Times supremacy over love, though he still believes in the emotion.
Dark vocabulary is used throughout the poem giving it a sombre tone, such as decay and weep
The juxtaposition of weep when clowns put on their show could be symbolic, illustrating how the reality of time would cast fear over people if it were not for the presence of love.
The reference to pay suggests death is a debt that must be paid to time, even love cannot avoid this fate Time is inevitable.
The perverse nursery rhyme in the last stanza of lions all get up and go and the brooks and soldiers reflects how time and age removes childhood security, leaving people exposed and at its mercy.
The imperatives associated with time, Time will... alters in this last stanza. The question posed at the end Will time...?. This demonstrates that despite his contemplation, he does not understand it. Nothing has been resolved by his desperation. The sense of urgency created from the repetition and use of enjambment conveys the true message of the poem, to love while you have the chance.
Elab~

| Posted on 2010-06-04 | by a guest


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in this poem Auden personifies time and time is introduced to the reader as an unrealibel character, through various devices such as juxed poosition , perosnification, repetion etc...

| Posted on 2010-05-08 | by a guest




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