What allusions are used in the poem "Laugh and Be Merry" by John Masefield?

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accessteacher's profile pic

accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The obvious allusions in this poem are allusions made to the Bible or religion as a whole. It is clear that the message of the poem--how we should live our lives in spite of our imminent deaths--is based around Masefield's religious beliefs as a Christian, as the allusions indicate. Note the major allusion made to the Book of Genesis in the Bible and God's act of creating the world:

Laugh and be merry: remember, in olden time.
God made Heaven and Earth for joy He took in a rhyme,
Made them, and filled them full with the strong red wine of His mirth
The splendid joy of the stars: the joy of the earth.

Although Masefield has adapted this reference somewhat, it is clear that the allusion is to how God created the heavens and the earth. Likewise we can find similar biblical allusions in how our lives are presented and viewed, in particular their brevity:

...for the time is brief, a thread the length of a span.

This relates to various biblical references where the brevity of our lives as humans is established. Thus the main allusions in this life-affirming poem seem to come from the Bible, which serves to reinforce Masefield's central message of how we should live our lives based on the inescapable fact of their brevity.

sidmufc's profile pic

sidmufc | Student, Grade 10 | (Level 1) Honors

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"The jubilant stars sweeping by" is an example of allusion useid in the poem "Laugh and Be Merry". This is allusion to the music of the spheres.The ancient Greek and Roman philosophers believed that when the stars and other heavenly bodies revolved in their orbits,they produced a truly beautiful music.This joyful music of the stars should inspire us to join in the revelry of the stars and sing with them to express our happiness.

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