© 2016 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.

The Cypress

Symbol Analysis

Those sad, sad, cypresses. The cypress tree has been around for thousands of years, and for thousands of years, it's been a symbol of mourning and grief. It shows up everywhere: in the poetry of the classical poet Ovid, as well as in real-life funerals and cemeteries across the world. If a cypress tree shows up somewhere in a poem, it's a pretty safe bet that that poem is dealing with grief and/or death in one way or another. The more you know

  • Line 3: The first time that the cypress appears, it foreshadows the tragedy (the Irish Potato Famine) that will enter the poem later. The speaker speaks of the "gloominess of cypresses" before anything gloomy has even happened in the poem. 
  • Line 26: The cypress here takes on its symbolic weight as the tree of mourning. It's now a symbol of the speaker's grief over the lives lost in the Irish Potato Famine, and England's refusal to help Ireland in a kinder, more efficient way.

People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...