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What is the central theme in William Cullen Bryant’s “To the Fringed Gentian”?

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hnewberry | Student, Undergraduate | Salutatorian

Posted August 13, 2012 at 3:13 AM via web

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What is the central theme in William Cullen Bryant’s “To the Fringed Gentian”?

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lprono | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted August 18, 2012 at 11:28 AM (Answer #1)

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The poem central theme is expressed through the final metaphor, elaborated in the last two stanzas, which likens the late blossoming of the fringed gentian towards the end of the year, a concept that is developed in the first three stanzas, to the serene and peaceful attidute that the poet hopes he will have when his own end (death) comes. The poet directly addresses the fringed gentian commenting that when "the aged year is near his end"

Then doth thy sweet and quiet eye 
Look through its fringes to the sky,

The poet wishes that

    . . . thus when I shall see 
    The hour of death draw near to me, 
    Hope, blossoming within my heart, 
    May look to heaven as I depart.

The promise of heaven, blossoming like a fringed gentian late in the life of the poet, should make him look upon death with a peaceful state of mind. 

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