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Nature moves cyclically–everything that starts also comes to an end. A moment, an hour, a day. As the sun rises each morning bringing with it new hope, a fresh start, every evening too, it sets, and then comes the time when all creatures and us humans too (at least we used to) begin to turn in, stop ones activities, get some rest. Like morning, evening has its own beauty, its own bit of activity, and that is the subject of Eden Phillpotts poem ‘The Dying Day’.

This short poem in three stanzas describes the end of the day–the sun beginning to set, things winding down, and finally darkness and silence setting in. Its title, ‘The Dying Day’ is rather sombre and one can detect a touch of melancholy in some of the lines too, like ‘For day is growing old‘, ‘Day leaves the woodland and the wold‘, but overall I feel, despite this thread running through it, the poem essentially talks of the winding down of the day, not necessarily an ending that should leave one sad, but a time to turn in, to slow down, to stop for a bit.

In the first stanza, Phillppotts describes the beautiful evening sky, ‘Lilac and fading rose and gold‘ drifting from east to west as the day begins to ‘grow old’. But while the evening light may have set in, that last bit of activity is still going on, for everyone has not yet turned in as the second stanza tells us.

Still the thrush sings, the blackbirds cry,
And young lambs scamper to the fold,
Nor seek the mother's side to rest,
Nor feel the breeze bite cold.

But this does not go on long, for now the evening light has passed as ‘Wild waves of darkness dim the sky‘ and ‘Day leaves the woodland and the wold‘. Now in the woods and in nests eyes are beginning to shut as the woodland creatures and birds settle in for the night. Silence sets in as ‘The curfew’s knell is knolled‘.

Photo by Harry Cooke on Pexels.com

The image of the woodland animals and birds turning in is rather a cosy one. Yet, the ringing of the curfew bells seems to bring in a solemn tone once again. I was actually rather interested in the use of the word ‘curfew’ here, since I wasn’t aware of its historical meaning–of the bell rung to signal the time to put out hearth fires (here). And also the mention of the ‘curfew’ brings in humans into a poem which is for the most part focusing on nature.

What do you think of this poem? Does it seem melancholy or just a description of everyday? Looking forward to your thoughts!

For some reason, I am unable to find and link this poem online so am typing the whole here:

The lights of even flow on high--
Lilac and fading rose into gold--
That drift from east into the west,
For day is growing old

Still the thrush sings, the blackbirds cry,
And young lambs scamper through the fold,
Nor seek the mother's side to rest,
Nor feel the breeze bite cold

Wide waves of darkness dim the sky,
Day leaves the woodland and the wold
Eyes shut in holt and feathered nest
The curfew's knell is knolled

Eden Phillpotts (1862-1960) was an English author, poet and dramatist (rather prolific as I see from the Wikipedia listing) who was born in Mount Abu, India. He worked as an insurance officer for 10 years, then studied for the stage and became an author (info from Wikipedia here).

2 thoughts on “Winding Down

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