Ah! Sun-flower

Ah! Sun-flower

By William Blake

Ah Sun-flower! weary of time,
Who countest the steps of the Sun:
Seeking after that sweet golden clime
Where the travellers journey is done.

Where the Youth pined away with desire,
And the pale Virgin shrouded in snow:
Arise from their graves and aspire,
Where my Sun-flower wishes to go.

Summary of Ah! Sun-flower

  • Popularity of “Ah! Sun-flower”: Written by William Blake, a popular English poet, this short and precise poem of just two stanzas first appeared in his collection, Songs of Experience. This collection hit the markets in 1794. The poem presents the sunflower and its activity of moving along the sun. The popularity of the poem lies in the presentation of life and birth through the symbolic presentation of the sunflower.
  • “Ah! Sun-flower” As a Representative of Desire for Divine Life: The poet presents the flower with his typical expression of “Ah” to show its significance in life and points out its travel with the sun. It is because it wants to live in that golden time when travelers start their journeys. In fact, the point wants the same place. And this place is mythical in that all the young people pine to move to that place, and even virgins dead in the frost and shrouded in their graves arise at that place. Therefore, it is the wish or desire of the sunflower to visit or move to that place that the poet has argued to be a desire for that divine life.
  • Major Themes in “Ah! Sun-flower”: Desire for divine life, the dream of utopia, and the symbolical presentation of the time and lifecycle are major themes of this poem. The poet has presented the movement of the sunflower to show that a utopia where the best clime comes exists and that things that dream of such a utopia have a reason to dream about it. Through the movement of the sunflower, the poet wants to point out that such a desire for divine life exists in human beings. That is why the young people dream of paradise, and even virgins would arise from their graves at that place. That is also why the sunflower, the poet argues, wants to go to that place. Although it is symbolically showing the cycle of time and life, it also shows how the dream of paradise has kept the poets in awe of something divine.

Analysis of Literary Devices Used in Ah! Sun-flower

William Blake’s art of using literary devices lies in his poetic skills. It is very much obvious in his poem. Some of the major literary devices he uses in this poem are as follows.

  1. Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in the same line, such as the sound of /e/ in “Who countest the steps of the Sun” and the sound of /a/ and /o/ in “And the pale Virgin shrouded in snow.”
  2. Consonance: Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line, such as the sound of /r / in “Arise from their graves and aspire” and the sound of /t/ and /s/ in “Who countest the steps of the Sun.”
  3. Imagery: Imagery is used to make readers perceive things involving their five senses. William Blake used imagery in this poem, such as “Who countest the steps of the Sun”, “Seeking after that sweet golden clime” and “Where the travellers journey is done.”
  4. Metaphor: It is a figure of speech in which an implied comparison is made between objects that are different in nature. The poet used the metaphor of a sunflower to show the journey of a person according to his/her desire.
  5. Personification: It means to attribute human emotions to inanimate objects. The poet used the personification of the sunflower that has a desire like a man.
  6. 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 time, the sun, clime, and travelers to point out the divine journey to some utopia.

Analysis of Poetic Devices Used in “Ah! Sun-flower”

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 good use of formal, poetic, and mystical diction.
  2. End Rhyme: It means to use verses having matching end words. William Blake shows the use of end rhyme such as time/clime and sun/done.
  3. Quatrain: It is a Persian stanza having four verses. The poem shows the use of a quatrain in both stanzas.
  4. Stanza: A stanza is a poetic form of some lines. There are two stanzas, each comprising four verses.
  5. Tone: It means the voice of the text. The poem shows a divine and spiritual tone.

Quotes to be Used

The following lines are useful to quote when talking about the existence of some utopia.

Where the Youth pined away with desire,
And the pale Virgin shrouded in snow:
Arise from their graves and aspire,
Where my Sun-flower wishes to go.


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