The Splendour Falls on Castle Walls
by Alfred Lord Tennyson
The Splendour Falls on Castle Walls Theme of Man and the Natural World
The speaker of "Splendour Falls" is alone in the mountains, looking across the valley at sunset and describing the scene. It's gorgeous, but there is something about this particular scene of nature that is especially evocative. It reminds the speaker of fairy tales, of the past, of ancient history and mythology, and eventually of our lives' legacies after death. Woah. That's a lot of power, even for a beautiful valley!
Questions About Man and the Natural World
- What do you think is the purpose of the "wild cataract," or waterfall, in line 4? Why include that detail? What is the effect on your reading?
- Why does the speaker repeat the word "wild" twice in two lines (lines 4 and 5)? Is nature dangerous in this poem?
- What is the speaker's attitude toward nature? What is his attitude toward man? How can you tell?
Chew on This
Put your thinking caps on. In "The Splendour Falls," the grandeur of nature makes the speaker think about major, capital-letter ideas like Philosophy, History, Mythology, and the Future.
The incredible shrinking speaker—the distance across the valley in "The Splendour Falls" makes the speaker feel suddenly tiny and insignificant in the scope of history.