What is the theme of "Description of Spring"?

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literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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The theme of Henry Howard's poem "Description of Spring" is change. The speaker of the poem is reflecting on the spring which is to come.

Given that the buck flings his winter coat, "his winter coat he flings", the poem recognizes the fact that spring is just around the corner. Not only has the buck recognized the coming of spring, others have as well:the fish are changing, "new repaired scale", the adder slings away her sloth, and the bee is beginning to make her honey.

In the end, the theme is detailed through the passing of winter and the promise of summer. The season in the middle, spring, is described so as to speak to the promise of new life and new outlooks.

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thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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"Description of Spring" by Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey (1516–47) is written in the form of an English, or Shakespearean, sonnet, consisting of three open quatrains followed by a couplet. As with most sonnets, it is characterized by a "turn" or striking and abrupt reversal between the third quatrain and the final couplet.

The first twelve lines, as the title suggests, are a description of the way life renews itself in the spring. Several such renewals are described, including the fresh plumage of the nightingale and the song of the turtledove. Fish, deer, snakes, and bees all participate in the joyous new life that emerges at the end of winter.

The exception to this is the narrator of the poem, who despite being surrounded by and appreciating the spring, and seeing it as a time of joy when cares are shed, nonetheless himself remains sorrowful. 


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