All Things Will Die: Summary and Analysis

Last updated on July 26th, 2021 at 07:07 pm

About the Poet:

The most renowned poet of the Victorian era, Alfred Lord Tennyson, was born in Somersby, Lincolnshire, England on 6 August 1809. Tennyson began writing poetry as a boy. Most of Tennyson’s education was under the direction of his father. At the age of twelve, he wrote a 6000 line epic poem. It was first published in 1827. He was a large man with a beard, and he regularly wore a cloak and a broad-brimmed hat. Tennyson’s poetry became more and more famous, which fetched him an impressive income as well as an ever-increasing fame level. Tennyson was Queen Victoria’s poet laureate from 1850 to 1892 until he died. His work includes ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade, ‘In Memoriam,’ and ‘Idylls of the King”. He died on 6 October 1892.

All Things Will Die: Setting

The poem is set amidst the morning of the month of May when the wind is blowing, the clouds are moving, and the poet is happily enjoying all the positivity in nature. But as we move on, the poet brings forward many contrasting instances from positivity to negativity and how everything on this earth will surely come to an end. He perfectly describes how we would turn out to be old fellows, which is mentioned in expressions like ‘The jaw is falling,’ ‘The red cheek paling,’ ‘The strong limbs falling’ and would then bid farewell to this world. Just like us, all other things in nature would also come to an end like ‘The voice of the bird Shall no more be heard, Nor the wind on the hill.’ The condition would bring only misery to the lives of all. The poem is set to contrast the fact of immortality.

All Things Will Die: Poetic Devices

Poetic Devices are essential components to any poetry as they help in a better understanding of the text.
A list of poetic devices used in the poem are:

Imagery, consonant rhymes, and assonance:
The first seven lines of the poem create an image of life.
        ‘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;’

Repetition:
It is used to make the theme clearer.
           ‘all things must die.’

Simile:
Use of expressions “as” or “like.”
       ‘As all men know.

All Things Will Die: Rhyming

Corresponding lines with the same rhyme scheme. Some of the examples are:
                  ‘One after another, the white clouds are fleeting;
                   Every heart this May morning in joyance is beating.’
                  ‘The stream will cease to flow;
                   The wind will cease to blow;.’
                  ‘The clouds will cease to fleet;
                   The heart will cease to beat;.
This poetic device has been used a lot of times by the poet in almost every other line.

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All Things Will Die: Style

Clearly, the blue river chimes in its flowing (A)
Under my eye; (B)
Warmly and broadly the south winds are blowing (A)
Over the sky. (B)
One after another the white clouds are fleeting; (C)
Every heart this May morning in joyance is beating (C)
The poem has alternates between ABAB and rhymed couplets to emphasize certain words and thematic points in the poem. The poet has selected this type of rhyme scheme because his primary consideration was more often rhythm and language than deviating meaning.

All Things Will Die: Summary

On looking at the title itself, a sense of negativity flows in. The poem starts with a serene view of a river flowing through the mountains, and the poet is equally enjoying watching it. The warm winds are blowing, and the poet is lost admiring the beauty of nature. The white clouds are moving, and the poet finds this entire view to be serene. He feels that every heart might be enjoying this view and that no heart would be lost in pain.


Everyone would be busy in merry-making only.
But then, there is a sudden shift from joyfulness to sorrow, carefree to seriousness, and cheerfulness to sadness. The poet starts feeling depressed because he knows that all this joy will come to an end sooner or later. He feels that the flowing of rivers will stop. The winds will not blow anymore. The movement of white clouds will not be seen. And then, his heart would feel an immense pain so much so that it will stop beating. That would be the time when the spring of one’s own life would never return. Death would be standing with open arms right at the door. Friends, he says, are only for the sake of being. The moments we spend and the memories we share will stay, but since it’s the call for us, we must leave now. Lying on the greenery will no longer be as peaceful as it used to be because now the chirping of birds is missing, the fragrance of nature is lost, the slow breeze on the mountains cannot be felt, and all good things are slowly coming to an end. This surely is a pitiful condition for each one of us. And while we are discussing all of it, the death waiting at the door is coming nearer. Its presence is becoming stronger. It’s coming to eat up all of us! And as it meets us, the body starts to become pale. The jaw is falling now. The strong limbs can no longer be felt. There is complete weakness in the body. The cheeks have started losing their color. The warm human blood is now becoming cooler, and the eyes lack any movement now. The bell rings completely nine times, which shows there are just a few minutes to go. And finally, the soul says goodbye to every beautiful thing. The only best thing is the fact that the soul is still happy. Earth was born just like every other being on this earth, and since there is an end to the latter ones, the former one will also come to an end. He strongly believes that all these things should come to an end.

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So we must let these winds blow, let the waves come to the shore, for we might not be able to have a look at them ever again. And that we must admire the beauty of nature in the best possible way, for we never know when would we get the next chance to do so. The poet has made every possible effort to make the reader understand the truth of life and that nothing is immortal in this world. All the things in this world surely have to cease, maybe today or tomorrow.

All Things Will Die: Analysis

This poem of Alfred Lord Tennyson is a perfect contrast to the poem “Nothing Will Die.” All the expressions are exactly opposite to what has been said in the other poem. ‘All Things Will Die’ clearly states the fact that all things, no matter how much we adore them, will have to die or come to an end. The poet believes that nothing is immortal.

The poet has cleverly used expressions of serenity like ‘Clearly the blue river chimes in its flowing,’ ‘Warmly and broadly the south winds are blowing’ and ‘One after another the white clouds are fleeting’ right in the beginning and then contrasting expressions like ‘The stream will cease to flow, ‘The wind will cease to blow’ along with a few others to make the reader understand everything right in the flow.

In the view of the poem, nature is considered to be an ending cycle that is moving towards its end, which is clear from ‘Spring will come never more.’ The truth of death with reference to nature has been perfectly blended. Here the earth that is created is to die for sure; it is not eternal. This whole world is full of misery, sadness, and sufferings, but there is happiness, passion, and peace too as ‘Ye merry souls, farewell”. Words and phrases like ‘O, misery!’, ‘In the dark, we must lie’ have been used to show that life has to come to an end at some point in time.

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Lastly, the poet only wishes to convey that one must live life to the fullest. We must enjoy each and every moment of life, for we never know which might turn out to be the last one. If we will live our lives cheerfully, only then we would be able to depart happily from this world.

All Things Will Die: Central Idea

The central idea of the poem is that of accepting the fact of mortality. The poet clearly expresses the fact that everything that exists in this world is temporarily available and that nothing remains forever or is permanent. So it’s our responsibility to accept this bitter truth along with cherishing every single second of our life. Once we learn to accept things as they are, this world would definitely become a place free from any despair, unhappiness, or sadness. It is our duty to nourish the earth. Nature is bountiful. Every single thing in nature is beautiful. All that we need is a pure heart to feel it. If we fail in doing so, all things tend to wither away and die even before they actually should. So live your life to the fullest.

All Things Will Die: Tone

The tone of the complete poem is a gradual shift from optimism to pessimism. And this pessimism can be felt from the title of the poem itself. The use of the title as an expression throughout the entire poem makes it even sadder, but he finds it important to make the reader understand the fact in a better manner. He feels that it’s more important to face things rather than running away from them. The tone at the very beginning of the poem seems to please the reader, which is followed by the bitter reality of life. The gradual shift of tone makes the reader gloomy. The reader starts getting attacked by a number of questions.

All his life, Tennyson used writing as a way of taking his mind from his troubles. Tennyson was considered a people’s poet too. So with this poem, he tries to make an attempt to make people feel the pleasure of nature without ignoring the fact that the things one enjoys are mortal. He perfectly quoted that ‘Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.’ This highlights the fact that we must not be afraid of the fact that things are going to end; they surely will. But it’s more important to live in the present and appreciate what we have right now instead of complaining every time. Understanding is important.