All Hallows’ Eve
By Dorothea Tanning
Be perfect, make it otherwise.
Yesterday is torn in shreds.
Lightning’s thousand sulfur eyes
Rip apart the breathing beds.
Hear bones crack and pulverize.
Doom creeps in on rubber treads.
Countless overwrought housewives,
Minds unraveling like threads,
Try lipstick shades to tranquilize
Fears of age and general dreads.
Sit tight, be perfect, swat the spies,
Don’t take faucets for fountainheads.
Drink tasty antidotes. Otherwise
You and the werewolf: newlyweds.
Summary of Al Hallows’ Eve
- Popularity of “Al Hallows’ Eve”: Written by Dorothea Tanning, a great American painter, writer, and poet, “Al Hallows’ Eve” is a sad poem. It presents the speaker’s innermost thoughts on how one can make herself go in a troubled marriage. Also, it speaks about the abuse she bears in the backdrop of Halloween. The poem gained popularity on account of its representation of serious issues with a touch of humor.
- “Al Hallows’ Eve” As a Representative of Sadness: This short poem speaks about the life of a woman who faces domestic violence. The speaker uses Halloween as a source to quell her anger. It begins with a series of violent images related to Halloween. Under cover of this event, she says that her past was safer while her presence is being torn into shreds. Although the speaker does not mention the name of anyone spoiling her life, yet the words and her feelings communicate the untold reality. The second stanza once again brings back the Halloween imagery when she says that whatever forces are marching out are murderers and horrifying.
She alludes to the upcoming violence when she refers to the cracking bones and creeping doom in this stanza. Although the writer uses metaphors of supernatural violence, the indirect message about an abusive relationship is quite evident. The poem’s final stanza clears all ambiguities as the writer brings into light the efforts of a woman who tries her best to please her dominant husband. She tries to be perfect in all aspects to avoid facing the animalistic side of her man’s nature.
- Major Themes in “Al Hallows’ Eve”: Domestic violence, abusive marriage, and fear are the poem’s major themes. The poem presents a disturbing relationship where a lady is subjected to violence. No matter how hard she tries to fulfill her husband’s desires, she fails to avoid violence. Although the speaker does not mention her sufferings directly, resembling her life to Halloween says it all. This comparison makes readers imagine how hard it would be for her to fit in a horrible place. She admits that she tries to balance things to avoid any uncertainty, but it seems that her efforts do not bear fruits. This simple text revolves around the bitter reality of how some people drag their lives. Also, it shows how domestic abuse corrodes the happiness of the victim. It seems that the speaker has no courage to change her situation. Therefore, she found writing the best mode to express her anger.
Analysis of Literary Devices Used in All Hallows’ Eve
Dorothea Tanning has made this poem meaningful and deep with the use of many literary devices. The analysis of the literary devices used in the poem is given below.
- Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in the same line, such as the sound of /e/ in “Doom creeps in on rubber treads” and the sound of /a/ in “Fears of age and general dreads.”
- Alliteration: Alliteration is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line in quick succession, such as the sound of /f/ in “faucets for fountainheads.”
- Consonance: Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line, such as the sound of /s/ in “Lightning’s thousand sulfur eyes” and the sound of /r/ in “Fears of age and general dreads.”
- 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;
“Try lipstick shades to tranquilize
Fears of age and general dreads.”
- 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. This is an ironic poem as it talks about the sorrows of a woman in the backdrop of a Halloween event.
- Imagery: Imagery is used to make readers perceive things involving their five senses. Dorothea Tanning has used imagery in this poem such as; “Doom creeps in on rubber treads”, “Try lipstick shades to tranquilize” and “You and the werewolf: newlyweds.”
- Metaphor: It is a figure of speech in which an implied comparison is made between objects that are different in nature. The poet has used sorrow as an extended metaphor to show how some people hide their sorrows silently.
- Personification: Personification is to give human qualities to inanimate objects. The poet has personified beds in the poem, such as; “Rip apart the breathing beds.”
- Symbolism: Symbolism is using symbols to signify ideas and qualities, giving them symbolic meanings that are different from the literal meanings. The poem uses symbols like sadness, torture, domestic violence, and forbearance.
- Simile: It is a device Used to compare something with something else to make the meanings clear to the readers. The writer uses this device in the sixth line of the poem while comparing minds to threads, such as; “Minds unraveling like threads.”
Analysis of Poetic Devices Used in All Hallows’ Eve
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.
- Diction: The poem shows descriptive diction having rhetorical devices, symbolism, and impressive images.
- End Rhyme: End rhyme is used to make the stanza melodious. The writer has used end rhyme in this poem, such as; “otherwise/eyes”, “threads/dreads” and “spies/otherwise.”
- Rhyme Scheme: The poem follows ABAB rhyme Scheme, and this pattern continues till the end.
- Stanza: A stanza is a poetic form of some lines. There are fourteen lines in this poem with no stanza break in it.
Quotes to be Used
The following lines are useful to use while talking about the women who silently face domestic violence and try to manage their married lives.
“Don’t take faucets for fountainheads.
Drink tasty antidotes. Otherwise
You and the werewolf: newlyweds.”