Alone in the Woods

Alone in the Woods

By Stevie Smith

Alone in the woods I felt
The bitter hostility of the sky and the trees
Nature has taught her creatures to hate
Man that fusses and fumes
Unquiet man
As the sap rises in the trees
As the sap paints the trees a violent green
So rises the wrath of Nature’s creatures
At man
So paints the face of Nature a violent green.

Nature is sick at man
Sick at his fuss and fume
Sick at his agonies
Sick at his gaudy mind
That drives his body
Ever more quickly
More and more
In the wrong direction.

Summary of Alone in the Woods

  • Popularity of “Alone in the Woods”: The poem “Alone in the Woods” by Stevie Smith, a great English poet, and novelist, is a sad poem. It first appeared in 1947 in the book having same title. The poem is a thought-provoking literary piece that sheds light on the devastating life of human beings. It highlights how even nature has refused to entertain man indulged in unhealthy activities. The poem’s popularity lies in that it draws our attention toward the distinct approach of the modern man.
  • “Alone in the Woods” As a Representative of Modern World: The poem centers on a person who feels rejected by nature. It begins as the speaker feels bitter hostility of the sky and other natural elements. An observer, she notices the dramatic change in the pattern of natural growth. To her, this notifiable change hints that even nature has stopped welcoming people. The face of nature is no longer the same. She further argues that nature is sick at the man and his unjust approaches. It seems unhappy at his miseries and filthy mind that drives him to adopt artificial livelihood destroying nature.
  • Major Themes in “Alone in the Woods”: Man versus nature, agony, and sadness are the major themes of the poem. The speaker laments the choices of modern man. She sadly states that if man has left prioritizing Mother Nature, it has also become non-entertaining. Through this text, the writer urges the readers to recall the time when people used to find glory, joy, and peace in the jocund company of nature. Unfortunately, our choices and so-called modern approach have made us stand at a place where even nature feels sick at us.

Analysis of Literary Devices Used in “Alone in the Woods”

literary devices give a unique feeling and meaning to a seemingly simple poetic piece. The analysis of the devices used in this beautiful poem is as follows.

  1. Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in the same line such as the sound of /e/ “So paints the face of Nature a violent green” and again the sound of /o/ in “More and more.”
  2. Anaphora: It refers to the repetition of a word or expression in the first part of some verses. Stevie Smith has repeated the word “sick” in the second stanza of the poem to emphasize the point such as;

“Nature is sick at man
Sick at his fuss and fume
Sick at his agonies
Sick at his gaudy mind.”

  1. Consonance: Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line such as the sound of /n/ in “So paints the face of Nature a violent green” and the sound of /r/ in “So rises the wrath of Nature’s creatures.”
  2. 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:

“Alone in the woods I felt
The bitter hostility of the sky and the trees
Nature has taught her creatures to hate
Man that fusses and fumes.”

  1. Hyperbole: Hyperbole is a device used to exaggerate any statement for the sake of emphasis. Smith exaggerates about the hostility of the nature such as;

“Nature has taught her creatures to hate
Man that fusses and fumes”

  1. Imagery: Imagery is used to make readers perceive things involving their five senses. Stevie Smith has used imagery in this poem such as “The bitter hostility of the sky and the trees”, “Nature has taught her creatures to hate,” and “So paints the face of Nature a violent green.”
  2. Metaphor: It is a figure of speech in which an implied comparison is made between the objects that are different in nature. The poet has used hatred as an extended metaphor just to show how it corrodes the fabric of society.
  3. Personification: Personification is to give human qualities to inanimate objects. The poet has personified nature at various places in the poem such as “The bitter hostility of the sky and the trees” and “Nature has taught her creatures to hate.”
  4. Symbolism: Symbolism is using symbols to signify ideas and qualities, giving them symbolic meanings that are different from literal meanings. The poem shows symbols like hatred, negativity and sadness to show the strange attitude of Mother Nature toward modern man.

Analysis of Poetic Devices Used in “Alone in the Woods”

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. Diction and Tone: The poem shows descriptive diction with serious and mocking tone.
  2. 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 meter.
  3. Octave: Octave is an eight lined stanza borrowed from Italian poetry. Here only second stanza is octave.
  4. Stanza: A stanza is a poetic form of some lines. There are two stanzas in this poem with each having different number of verses.

Quotes to be Used

The following lines from the poem “Alone in the Woods” are useful to quote while talking about the harsh realities of modern world where people have lost the purpose of their life.

“Nature is sick at man
Sick at his fuss and fume
Sick at his agonies
Sick at his gaudy mind
That drives his body
Ever more quickly
More and more
In the wrong direction.”

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