Symphony in Yellow

Symphony in Yellow

By Oscar Wilde

An omnibus across the bridge
Crawls like a yellow butterfly
And, here and there, a passer-by
Shows like a little restless midge.

Big barges full of yellow hay
Are moored against the shadowy wharf,
And, like a yellow silken scarf,
The thick fog hangs along the quay.

The yellow leaves begin to fade
And flutter from the Temple elms,
And at my feet the pale green Thames
Lies like a rod of rippled jade.

Summary of Symphony in Yellow

  • Popularity of “Symphony in Yellow”: “Symphony in Yellow” by Oscar Wilde, an Irish icon, is a descriptive poetic piece. The poem beautifully transports the readers into the world of beauty and sensuality for some time. It highlights how even the slightest things in our surroundings can bring us the utmost joy. The mesmerizing aesthetic representation of beauty, insertion of literary elements, and depiction of River Themes in a distinct way make this poem a superb piece of poetry.
  • “Symphony in Yellow” As a Representative of Beauty: This poem is an illustration of the sparkling beauty of colors and the speed of the things the speaker sees around the Thames River. The poem begins where he makes his readers visualize and feel the music as well as the color of the slow tranquil movement of the bus passing by the river. It appears to him as a yellow butterfly that attracts the people. This enchanting image instantly gets shadowed with the description of big barges full of yellow hay. The sensual imagery makes the readers visualize the shadowy wharf where big ships are docked. To make this poem more powerful, the speaker introduces more images like the description of the abundant fog that hangs on the bay. He further explains how the arrival of the fog eclipses the existing colors. The soothing and jaw-dropping scenery becomes palish-green when he steps on the cool river. To him, the river looks like a jade moving, yet still.
  • Major Themes in “Symphony in Yellow”: Man versus the world, natural beauty, and symphony are the major themes of the poem. This short poem introduces the writer’s idea of beauty. To him, beauty lies everywhere and it’s like music that appeals to our hearts. To support his idea, he takes an example of the ordinary activities happening on the Thames River. He uses various literary and poetic devices to paint a meaningful picture of the weather and its impacts on the busy Thames River. The slow-moving buses and big barges appear attractive to him. However, when the fog crawls in, the attractive yellow scenery changes into the palish-green land. Ironically, these meaningful happenings remain unnoticed by the travelers as they do not pay any attention to these slight changes.

Analysis of Literary Devices Used in “Symphony in Yellow”

literary devices empower the writer’s to express feelings and emotions in appropriate and suitable words. With the use of these devices, they make their readers visualize the things that might have occurred ages ago as this explanation of some of them demonstrates.

  1. Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in the same line such as the sound of /e/ in “The yellow leaves begin to fade” and the sound of /o/ in “An omnibus across the bridge.”
  2. Alliteration: Alliteration means the use of successive consonant sounds in the initials of the successive words such as /r/ in “rod of rippled jade.”
  3. Consonance: Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line such as the sound of /n/ in “And offer the hand of communication” and the sound of /t/ in “It does not want to play if my skin is not the right hue.”
  4. 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;

“An omnibus across the bridge
Crawls like a yellow butterfly
And, here and there, a passer-by
Shows like a little restless midge.”

  1. Imagery: Imagery is used to make readers perceive things involving their five senses. Oscar Wilde has used imagery in this poem such as “Crawls like a yellow butterfly”, “And at my feet the pale green Thames” and “Are moored against the shadowy wharf.
  2. Symbolism: Symbolism is using symbols to signify ideas and qualities, giving them symbolic meanings that are different from the literal meanings. Here “a rod of rippled jade” stands for the constantly moving River Thames.
  3. Simile: It is a device Used to compare something with something else to make the meanings clear to the readers. Oscar Wilde has used this device at many places in the poem such as; “Crawls like a yellow butterfly” and “Lies like a rod of rippled jade.”

Analysis of Poetic Devices Used in “Symphony in Yellow”

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. Oscar Wilde has used end rhyme in this poem such as; “hay/quay”, “wharf/scarf” and “fade/jade.”
  2. Quatrain: A quatrain is a four-lined stanza borrowed from Persian poetry. Here each stanza is a quatrain.
  1. Stanza: A stanza is a poetic form of some lines. There are four stanzas in this poem with each comprising four lines/verses.

Quotes to be Used

The lines are useful to use while talking about the beautiful places of the world.

Big barges full of yellow hay
Are moored against the shadowy wharf,
And, like a yellow silken scarf,
The thick fog hangs along the quay.”

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