A Quoi Bon Dire

 A Quoi Bon Dire

By Charlotte Mew

Seventeen years ago you said
Something that sounded like Good-bye;
And everybody thinks that you are dead,
But I.

So I, as I grow stiff and cold
To this and that say Good-bye too;
And everybody sees that I am old
But you.

And one fine morning in a sunny lane
Some boy and girl will meet and kiss and swear
That nobody can love their way again
While over there
You will have smiled, I shall have tossed your hair.

Summary of A Quoi Bon Dire

  • Popularity of “A Quoi Bon Dire”: A Quoi Bon Dire by Charlotte Mew, a Victorian English poet and writer is a sensual piece of writing adored for its remarkable expression. It was first published in 1916 in her volume, The Former Bride. The poem revolves around the idea of unconditional love. It illustrates the heartfelt feeling of the speaker for her loved one even after years of death. The beauty and uniqueness of this short piece lie in the fact that the speaker gives love a supreme value, and her unconditional love proves that even death cannot separate lovers.
  • “A Quoi Bon Dire” As a Representative of Infinite Love: This poem sheds light on the sweet and tender feeling of love. The poem begins as the speaker directly addresses her loved one who died seventeen years ago, saying goodbye to the world. Although the world believes that he is dead and gone for good, the speaker keeps him alive in her imagination. As the poem moves, it shows the speaker, having passed her prime. The “cold and stiff” stands for her impending death. Yet her loved one still finds her young; he sees her still in the same lovely manner, ignoring the phenomenon of age. The last stanza presents a future picture of the couples initiating their love journey having fancy dreams in their eyes. They kiss and make themselves feel loved. Ironically, while these lovers are making love, the speaker and her lover are also united in death. The last two lines suggest that death once again completes their union.
  • Major Themes in “A Quoi Bon Dire”: Everlasting love, aging, and unavoidable death are the major themes of the poem. This short yet beautiful poem introduces us to a lady having a golden heart filled with love. Her partner has died seventeen years ago, and the choice of words suggests that the death of her lover seems to have happened abruptly or unexpectedly. Therefore, for her time has stopped, allowing her to rejoice every second with the departed soul. Her love for him is so pure and intense that despite the negative effect of time and age, she hopes that she may join him after the death.

Analysis of Literary Devices Used in “A Quoi Bon Dire”

The writer’s tools are literary devices or terms that make poetic pieces and fictional works worth reading. The writers and poets use them to make their texts and poetry appealing. Some of the literary devices occurring in this poet are given below.

  1. Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in the same line such as the sound of /e/ in “Seventeen years ago you said.”
  2. Consonance: Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line such as the sound of /t/ in “To this and that say Good-bye too” and the sound of /s/ in “You will have smiled, I shall have tossed your hair.”
  3. Enjambment: It is defined as a thought in verse that does not come to an end at a line break; rather, it rolls over to the next line. For example;

So I, as I grow stiff and cold
To this and that say Good-bye too;
And everybody sees that I am old
But you.”

  1. Irony: Irony is a figure of speech in which words are used in such a way that their intended meaning is different from the actual meaning of the words. The poet has used this device in the last lines where she talks about after death such as “While over there/you will have smiled, I shall have tossed your hair.”
  2. Imagery: Imagery is used to make readers perceive things involving their five senses. Charlotte Mew has used imagery in this poem such as “So I, as I grow stiff and cold”, “And everybody thinks that you are dead” and “You will have smiled, I shall have tossed your hair.”
  3. Symbolism: Symbolism is using symbols to signify ideas and qualities, giving them symbolic meanings that are different from literal meanings. “Stiff and cold” symbolize the old age.

Analysis of Poetic Devices Used in “A Quoi Bon Dire”

Poetic and literary devices are the same, but a few are used only in poetry. Here is the analysis of some of the poetic devices used in this poem.

  1. Free Verse: Free verse is a type of poetry that does not contain patterns of rhyme or meter. This is a free-verse poem with no strict rhyme or metrical pattern.
  2. Quatrain: A quatrain is a four-lined stanza borrowed from Persian poetry. Here the first two stanzas are quatrains.
  1. Stanza: A stanza is a poetic form of some lines. There are three stanzas in this poem with each comprising a different number of verses.

 Quotes to be Used

The lines stated below are useful for lovers while expressing their feelings for each other.

And one fine morning in a sunny lane
Some boy and girl will meet and kiss and swear
That nobody can love their way again
While over there
You will have smiled, I shall have tossed your hair.”