What would be an analysis of the poem "Evening in Autum" by James Thomson?

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thanatassa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

"Evening in Autumn" is part of a longer work, The Seasons, written by James Thomson, a Scottish poet who was born in 1700 and died in 1748. Thomson is remembered for two works: The Seasons, and the lyrics to "Rule, Britannia!" Thomson had initially studied for ministry in the Church of Scotland at the University of Edinburgh, but rather than pursuing a ministerial career, moved to London in 1725 and worked as a school teacher and private tutor. Nonetheless, his deep sense of spirituality can still be seen in the poem. 

"Evening in Autumn" is written in blank verse, or unrhymed iambic pentameter. It describes sunset in rural Scotland, and how the fog rises from the ground as the air cools over the marshes and dales. It gives a broad overview of the scenery, rather than focusing on one specific area. The narration is in third person, and gives an omniscient viewpoint (as opposed to being localized in terms of what can be seen through the eyes of a single individual). Perhaps the most striking element of the poem is the way it describes the sublunary sphere as bathed in the radiance of sun on one side and moon on the other, almost as a metaphor for how the human world is surrounded by divine benevolence. 

teachersage eNotes educator| Certified Educator

"Evening in Autumn" is a nature poem describing a moment of sunset on an autumn evening as the shadows fall on the landscape and the moon rises. The poem opens by describing the twilight scene on earth: it is chilly, damp, dim and gloomy: waters "oozes" and marshes "stagnate." Fogs "cluster" and roll along close to the grass. The full moon then appears overhead to the east, while the sun is not quite yet set. The narrator gazes at the moon through his telescope, which he calls an "optic tube." The telescope reveals to him the moon looking like a smaller earth, showing caverns and dales lit softly. The poet then describes how the moon passes through a cloud and rises to bathe the earth in a "quivering gleam" and "silver radiance." Here, the imagery of the earth in moonlight is a contrast to its foreboding darkness in the twilight. 

The poem is notable for simply describing the scene of a transition from shadowy darkness to the moon rising without offering an explicit thematic message, such as that the moon represents true love. The point of the poem is simply to evoke the mood of an autumn evening under a full moon in almost scientific, if still lyrical, detail. 

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The Seasons

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