Silence

Silence

by Thomas Hood

 There is a silence where hath been no sound,
There is a silence where no sound may be,
In the cold grave—under the deep deep sea,
Or in the wide desert where no life is found,
Which hath been mute, and still must sleep profound;
No voice is hush’d—no life treads silently,
But clouds and cloudy shadows wander free,
That never spoke, over the idle ground:
But in green ruins, in the desolate walls
Of antique palaces, where Man hath been,
Though the dun fox, or wild hyena, calls,
And owls, that flit continually between,
Shriek to the echo, and the low winds moan,
There the true Silence is, self-conscious and alone.

Summary of Silence 

  • Popularity of “Silence”: ‘Silence’ is a philosophical and self-explanatory poem written by Thomas Hood, a great English poet, and It was first published in 1950. The poem illustrates the way silence exists at certain places in the universe and the state of silence in the natural setting. Since its publication, the poem has gained popularity on account of its interpretation of silence.
  • “Silence” As a Representative of Natural World: The poet has discussed two distinctive types of silence in the poem. At the outset, he categorizes silence by saying that there are places where there is no sound such as, “cold grave” and “deep deep sea”. Also, in the wild deserts where life does not exist, there are only clouds and shadows that never interact with the silent ground. Hence, there is no communication in these settings. Second, he discusses the places where humans once lived, but are now vacant. Now, these ruins and desolate places are inhabited by animals. Only the wind moans there. Silence exists too, but it is a limited silence.
  • Themes in “Silence”: Silence and nature are the major themes in the poem. The poem centers on the concept of silence as the poet has explained various settings along with his thoughts. To him, silence exists in places where no one can survive and at the abandoned places which are now occupied by the cries of foxes, wild hyenas, and In other words, it is the absence of human beings.

Analysis of Literary Devices in “Silence”

 Literary devices are tools the writers use to create meanings in their texts to enhance the poems or stories and connect the readers with the real message of the text. Thomas has also used some literary devices in this poem to make it appealing. The analysis of some of the literary devices used in this poem has been listed below. 

  1. Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in the same line such as the sound of /o/ in “Shriek to the echo, and the low winds moan”.
  2. Imagery: Imagery is used to make readers perceive things with their five senses. For example, “Or in the wide desert where no life is found”, “But in green ruins, in the desolate walls” and “Of antique palaces, where Man hath been”.
  3. Consonance: Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line such as the sound of /p/ in “In the cold grave—under the deep deep sea”.
  4. Enjambment: It is defined as a thought or clause that does not come to an end at a line break instead moves over the next line. For example,

“But in green ruins, in the desolate walls
Of antique palaces, where Man hath been.”

  1. Anaphora: It refers to the repetition of a word or expression in the first part of some verses. For example, “There is a silence” to emphasize his point in the first two lines of the poem,

“There is a silence where hath been no sound,
There is a silence where no sound may be.”

  1. Personification: Personification is to give human characteristics to inanimate objects. For example, Shriek to the echo, and the low winds moan”, as if the wind is human that can moan.
  2. Alliteration: Alliteration is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line such as the sound of /c/ in “But clouds and cloudy shadows wander free” and the sound of /s/ in “There the true Silence is, self-conscious and alone”.

A glimpse of literary analysis reveals that the poet has skilfully projected his ideas about silence through the use of these literary devices.

Analysis of Poetic Devices in “Silence”

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. Sonnet: A sonnet consists of fourteen lines made up of three quatrains and one rhyming couplet.
  2. Quatrain: A quatrain is four-lined stanzas taken from Persian poetry. Here first three stanzas are quatrains.
  3. Couplet: There are two constructive lines in a couplet, usually in the same meter and joined by rhyme. This sonnet ends with a couplet, which usually reveals the central idea of the poem such as,

“Shriek to the echo, and the low winds moan,
There the true Silence is, self-conscious and alone.”

  1. Rhyme Scheme: The rhyme scheme followed by the entire poem is, ABBAABBACDCDEE.
  2. End Rhyme: End rhyme is used to make the stanza melodious. For example, in the first and second lines of the first stanza the rhyming words are, “sound”, “Found”, “be” and “sea”.
  3. Iambic Pentameter: It is a type of meter consisting of five iambs. This poem comprises iambic pentameter such as, “There is a silence where hath been no sound.”

Quotes to be Used 

The lines stated below can be used when describing the quiet and peaceful atmosphere of deserts where there is silence around the area.

“Or in the wide desert where no life is found,
Which hath been mute, and still must sleep profound;
No voice is hush’d—no life treads silently,
But clouds and cloudy shadows wander free.”