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The Splendour Falls on Castle Walls

The Splendour Falls on Castle Walls


by Alfred Lord Tennyson

The Splendour Falls on Castle Walls Theme of Isolation

The speaker of "The Splendour Falls on Castle Walls" is walking in the hills above a castle—alone. Does that bum him out? Not one little bit. He watches the sunset, takes in the beautiful scenery, and enjoys the solitude. Suddenly, though, he hears a bugle horn that seems to come out of nowhere. He's not as solitary as he thought he was! But the combination of his apparent isolation, with the reminder of other people (that he can't see), contribute to the kind of deep thinking and reflection that he's able to accomplish here.

Questions About Isolation

  1. Is the speaker alone, or isn't he? How can you tell?
  2. Why does the speaker address the bugles themselves, instead of the person who is playing it? 
  3. Who is the "love" that the speaker addresses in line 13? Is it someone who is with him, or is he speaking to someone who is absent? How can you tell?
  4. Would it change your reading of the poem if you knew for sure whether the speaker were really by himself? Why or why not?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Although the speaker of "The Splendour Falls" seems to be completely alone, the sound of the bugles reminds him abruptly that solitude is only ever an illusion. Every corner of the earth, even if uninhabited today, is still inhabited by the "echoes" of historical men and women. You can't get away!

Bugler? What bugler? The speaker of the poem addresses the bugle, instead of the person playing it, in order to sustain the illusion of solitude and of being isolated from other people.

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