Dorothy Wordsworth

Start Free Trial

Analyze "Address to A Child During A Boisterous Winter Evening" by Dorothy Wordsworth.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Relying heavily on personification and a contrast of imagery, the speaker of "Address to a Child During a Boisterous Winter Evening" conveys the ironic limitations of nature's threats.

The poem opens with a rhetorical question, demonstrating the unpredictability of nature. The wind touches everything and therefore has the capacity to create destruction "through wood, and through vale; and o'er rocky height,/ Which the goat cannot climb." Although there isn't a "scholar in England" who can predict the path of the wind, the speaker sometimes finds him lingering "in a cunning nook" where he often "ring[s] a sharp 'larum." On other days, he can be found hiding "in the cave of a rock," and his force creates a "shrill" whistle as it reverberates. The wind is sneaky and elusive, and the personification used to describe its effects portrays abilities which have an almost omnipresent quality.

In the third stanza, the speaker predicts that the following day, she and the child to whom she is speaking will be able to see the effects of the wind's menacing efforts; the branches in the orchard will surely be "cracked" and "strewn ... about." As the child listens, the speaker points out how the wind "growls" as he "pauses" over their home. This imagery conveys devastation and loss, creating a somber mood.

There is a juxtaposition of tone in the fourth stanza as the speaker reflects upon the limitations of the wind's authority. He growls "as if" he has the ability to reach into their "slates"—but ultimately he lacks that power. So the speaker encourages the child, asking that they let the wind "range around" outside because he lacks the power to do them any "harm." The imagery at the end of this stanza illustrates the security and comforts which exist inside their home, which is "warm" and filled with a "candle shin[ing] bright[ly]."

The poem ends with the ironic limitations of the wind's influence. The speaker encourages the wind to "knock at the door" and "drive at the windows" because she and the child will simply laugh at his futile efforts. The poem's predictable rhyme pattern underscores the predictability of the speaker's certainty that she and little Edward will remain "cozie" in their "warm house," unfazed by the wind's malicious efforts.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial