The Poem

(Critical Guide to Poetry for Students)

The four brief six-line stanzas of “Henceforth, from the Mind” express a sense of the sublimation of passion and emotion integrated into the life of the mind and imagination. Throughout, an unidentified speaker addresses an unnamed “you”: The meditative and contemplative language and tenor of the poem suggest that “you” is really the speaker, addressing his or her interior life.

The first stanza is a single sentence. The first line is the same as the title, and the speaker tells the listener that from this point in time all happiness to be enjoyed will come from the mind. Although the source of such joy may be traceable to material things—which would include the pleasures of the flesh—the future enjoyment of these pleasures will be an imaginative and mental one. The last two lines add an independent clause, making the assertion that it will be the speaker’s thought that will endow time and place with significance and honor. The implication is that such time and place may be present in fact, or in memory and imagination; in either case, it is the mind that creates their meaning.

The second stanza makes a parallel statement with regard to language, asserting that language alone will, in the future, produce the kind of happiness that the listener had formerly thought, in youth, would be the concomitant of passionate desire. The speaker elaborates on the youthful illusion of the power of passion in a set of parallel clauses...

(The entire section is 450 words.)

Forms and Devices

(Critical Guide to Poetry for Students)

“Henceforth, from the Mind” has a particularly tight metrical scheme. The basic rhythm is iambic trimeter, with few, but subtle, variations. The first lines of the first and second stanzas, each opening with the word “henceforth,” are headless, beginning with a stressed syllable and containing only five, instead of six, syllables. The third line of the last stanza, “Will sound you flowers,” and the penultimate line of the poem, “henceforth, henceforth,” are iambic dimeter. There is one foot that deviates from the iambic pattern: The antepenultimate line begins with the trochee “Born under,” a stressed syllable followed by an unstressed one, reversing the iambic pattern throughout the rest of the poem. The second and fourth lines of the fourth stanza, however, end in feminine rhymes: “wondered” and “sundered.” The meter is highly regular and supported by a close rhyme scheme. The first four lines of each stanza rhyme in a quatrain pattern of abab, with the last two lines forming a couplet. The only variation is the slight off-rhyme of the last couplet pairing “henceforth” and “earth.”

Such a strongly marked rhythmic and rhyme scheme in a poem with very short lines often produces a mechanical, sing-song effect. That rule does not hold true in this poem because of the interplay between long-vowel syllables in unstressed positions. In the second line, “whole joy,” and in the third line, “may find,” are feet...

(The entire section is 515 words.)