Blow, Blow, Thou Winter Wind

Blow, Blow, Thou Winter Wind

by William Shakespeare

Blow, blow, thou winter wind,
Thou art not so unkind
As man’s ingratitude;
Thy tooth is not so keen,
Because thou art not seen,
Although thy breath be rude.
Heigh-ho! sing, heigh-ho! unto the green holly:
Most friendship is feigning, most loving mere folly:
Then, heigh-ho, the holly!
This life is most jolly.

Freeze, freeze, thou bitter sky,
That dost not bite so nigh
As benefits forgot:
Though thou the waters warp,
Thy sting is not so sharp
As friend remembered not.
Heigh-ho! sing, heigh-ho! unto the green holly..

Summary of Blow, Blow, Thou Winter Wind

  • Popularity of “Blow, Blow, Thou Winter Wind”: This poem was written by William Shakespeare, a great English poet and playwright. ‘Blow, Blow, thou Winter Wind’ is a lyrical poem about life and foolishness. It was first published in 1623 in the famous play, As You Like It. The poem speaks about the negative attribute of human beings. It also presents a stark comparison of human nature with the harsh winter wind, along with the bitter realities of human life.
  • “Blow, Blow, Thou Winter Wind” As Representative of Human Nature: In the play, the poem is sung by Amiens, a lord who describes the fake friendship that brings pain to someone. To him, a fake friend causes more pain than the harsh winter wind. The invisible wind bites, but its bite is less poisonous than the man’s ingratitude. As the poem continues, the poet comments on how his friend has forgotten the favors by the speaker in the past. Therefore, he compares the betrayal with a cold breeze that causes frostbite. However, the harsh winter is not entirely unbearable as the unthankful behavior of his dear friend.
  • Major Themes in “Blow, Blow, Thou Winter Wind”: Betrayal, fake friendship and bitter realities of human life are the major themes of this poem. Throughout the poem, the speaker compares the harsh winter with the negative behavior of mankind. For him, the cold winter bite is temporary. It only hurts the skin, whereas the betrayal of a friend is hard to tolerate. It not only breaks our hearts but also destroys our peace in life. The poem concludes with a positive message that even if people aren’t loyal, we should enjoy life as much as we can.

Analysis of Literary Devices Used in “Blow, Blow, Thou Winter Wind”

Literary devices are tools used by writers to enhance the intended impacts of their writings and interpret the hidden messages from the writers. Shakespeare has also used some literary devices in this poem. The analysis of some of the literary devices used in this poem has been given below.

  1. Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in the same line. For example, the sound of /ei / in “Most friendship is feigning, most loving mere folly” and the sound of /o/ in “Love, all alike, no season knows nor clime.”
  2. Apostrophe: An apostrophe is a device used to call somebody or something from afar. Here, the poet has used the apostrophe to call the winter wind to express his feelings in “Blow, blow, thou winter wind” and “Freeze, freeze, thou bitter sky.”
  3. Alliteration: Alliteration is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line in quick succession. The entire poem is rich with alliterations. For example, the sound of /b/ and /w/ in “Blow, blow, thou winter wind” and the sound of /th/ and /w/ in “Though thou the waters warp.”
  4. Consonance: Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line. For example, the sound of /z/ in “Freeze, freeze, thou bitter sky” and the sound of /d/ in “As friend remembered not.”
  5. Enjambment: It is defined as a thought in verse that does not come to an end at a line break; instead, it continues in the next line. For example,

“That dost not bite so nigh
As benefits forgot:
Though thou the waters warp,
Thy sting is not so sharp
As friend remembered not.”

  1. Imagery: Imagery is used to make readers perceive things involving their five senses. For example, “Blow, blow, thou winter wind”, “Freeze, freeze, thou bitter sky” and “Thy sting is not so sharp.”
  2. Personification: Personification is to give human qualities to inanimate objects. For example, “Thy tooth is not so keen”, “Although thy breath be rude” and “Thou art not so unkind.”
  3. Simile: It is a device used to compare an object or a person with something else to make the meanings clear to the readers. The cold wind is compared to human beings throughout the poem. For example,

“Thou art not so unkind
As man’s ingratitude.”
“That dost not bite so nigh
As benefits forgot.”

Analysis of Poetic Devices Used in “Blow, Blow, Thou Winter Wind”

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. End Rhyme: End rhyme is used to make the stanza melodious. For example, such as; “wrap/sharp” and “keen/seem.”
  2. Stanza: A stanza is a poetic form of some lines. There are two stanzas in this poem, with each having different numbers of verses in it.
  3. Rhyme Scheme: The poem follows the ABAB rhyme scheme, and this pattern continues to the end.

Quotes to be Used

The lines stated below are useful on an occasion of speech when talking about the negative attributes of mankind.

“Though thou the waters warp,
Thy sting is not so sharp
As friend remembered not.”