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The theme of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's (1807-1882) sonnet "Nature" is the tenderness and gentleness of 'Nature' in guiding human souls from this world to the next.
He has synthesized and synergized the thematic metaphors in a compelling manner to effectively convey this theme.
The two metaphors in the octave [the first eight lines] 'a fond mother' and 'her little child' are harnessed in the chronotope of the arrival of the bed time of the child. Death in this world is compared to the bed time of the child. Just like how the child would like to continue playing forever with its toys without going to bed, adults also would like to continue to be busily engaged forever in their mundane activities without any thought of a higher reality.
But the kind and affectionate mother knows how essential sleep is for the good health of her child and very gently coaxes the child to leave its "broken playthings" behind and puts the child to sleep. Similarly, death very gently leads us away from all our earthly attractions and distractions and leads us into the mysterious but higher "unknown."
So Nature deals with us, and takes away Our playthings one by one, and by the hand Leads us to rest so gently,
Longfellow's conception of death leading adults to a higher and mysterious reality is platonic and agnostic. It is not a Christian view of life after death in which sinners will go to hell and the righteous to heaven. Longfellow's views on the 'after life' in this poem are non-judgmental and apply to all humanity.
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