After the Winter

After the Winter

By Claude McKay

Some day, when trees have shed their leaves
And against the morning’s white
The shivering birds beneath the eaves
Have sheltered for the night,
We’ll turn our faces southward, love,
Toward the summer isle
Where bamboos spire the shafted grove
And wide-mouthed orchids smile.

And we will seek the quiet hill
Where towers the cotton tree,
And leaps the laughing crystal rill,
And works the droning bee.
And we will build a cottage there
Beside an open glade,
With black-ribbed blue-bells blowing near,
And ferns that never fade.

Summary of After the Winter

  • Popularity of “After the Winter”: Harlem Renaissance voices have often proved highly effective when it comes to lyrical writing and Jamaican-American, Claude McKay proved this through his beautiful, short, and concise poems. The poem, “After the Winter” by McKay shows this Harlem effect. It first appeared in 1922 in Harlem Shadows, a collection published by Harcourt. The main thrust of the ideas of Claude McKay lies in the presentation of optimism and its significance in life.
  • “After the Winter” As a Representative of Optimism: The poet presents a speaker who is planning to celebrate the end of autumn. He is of the view that the trees would shed their old leaves and then bring out white ones. The birds have taken shelter in those trees after the arrival of the darkness. The people, including the speaker, would head to the summer isle to enjoy where they would see the bamboo trees and orchids looking beautiful. However, when they would reach that isle, they would see the quiet hill, cotton trees, rivulets, and droning bees enjoying. The speaker and others would then enjoy building their cottages over there. The environment would be full of bluebells and ferns that would never fade. The second stanza shows the optimism of the poet about the summer isle and their expectations.
  • Major Themes in “After the Winter”: High expectations, the beauty of nature, and the poet’s optimism about the good days coming ahead are three major themes of this poem “After the Winter.” The high expectations of the poet are clear that one season goes and they expect to welcome the other on the summer isle. Yet this autumn has its own beauty and the beauty over the summer isle has its own charm. The poet’s optimism is typical. He is showing his Harlem connection as he and his community know that someday their struggle to win equal rights will bear fruit. That is why the poet is optimistic that someday they will go to the summer isle.

Analysis of Literary Devices Used in After the Winter

Claude McKay’s use of literary devices is unique. He has rather moved to use effective devices instead of common ones. Some of the major literary devices have been analyzed below.

  1. Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in the same line, such as the sound of /e / in “Some day, when trees have shed their leaves” and the sound of /o/ in “Where bamboos spire the shafted grove.”
  2. Alliteration: Alliteration is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line in quick succession, such as the sound of /b/ in “black-ribbed blue-bells blowing” or /w/ in “we will.”
  3. Consonance: Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line, such as the sound of /m/ in “And wide-mouthed orchids smile” and the sound of /b / in “With black-ribbed blue-bells blowing near.”
  4. Imagery: Imagery is used to make readers perceive things involving their five senses. Claude McKay has used imagery in this poem, such as “With black-ribbed blue-bells blowing near”, “Where towers the cotton tree” and “And leaps the laughing crystal rill.”
  5. Metaphor: It is a figure of speech in which an implied comparison is made between objects that are different in nature. The poet used different metaphors, such as the hills are quiet, rills are laughing, and bees are working like workers.
  6. Personification: It means the use of human attributes for inanimate objects. It shows the hills are quiet like human beings or rills are laughing like human beings.
  7. Symbolism: Symbolism is using symbols to signify ideas and qualities, giving them symbolic meanings that are different from the literal meanings. The poem shows symbols, such as autumn, shedding leaves, bamboo, and grove to show the beauty of nature.

Analysis of Poetic Devices Used in After the Winter

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

  1. Diction: It means the type of language. The poem shows very good use of formal and poetic diction.
  2. End Rhyme: End rhyme is used to make the stanza melodious. Claude McKay uses end rhyme in this poem, such as leaves/eaves and love/grove.
  3. Rhyme Scheme: The poem follows the ABABCDCD rhyme scheme in the first stanza, and it continues in the second one as well.
  4. Stanza: A stanza is a poetic form of some lines. There are two stanzas, with each having eight verses, also known as an octave.
  5. Tone: It means the voice of the text. The poem shows a didactic and optimistic tone.

Quotes to be Used

The following lines are useful to quote to show the working of nature.

And we will seek the quiet hill
Where towers the cotton tree,
And leaps the laughing crystal rill,
And works the droning bee.