by Wallace Stevens
Morning and Evening
Maybe you’re not a morning person, but at least you can understand the appeal: the sun keeps getting brighter, and you have the whole day in front of you. For the protagonist of the poem, morning is a time of hope and new beginnings. But, her joy is mixed with fear that the morning must end and give way to evening – and, not just any evening, but Sunday evening. For most people, Sunday evening is the last tasty morsel of the weekend, and then it’s back to work or school on Monday. Sunday morning is the protagonist’s last chance to relax and enjoy the beauty of nature.
- Title: The poem is set on a Sunday morning, when many Christians are normally at church.
- Line 1: Although it’s morning, it’s not the crack of dawn: the protagonist gets a slow start on the day, and it’s already "late." Ah, the beauty of Sundays.
- Line 8: When the woman begins to think about the death of Christ, it’s like day turning into night. The comparison between these two events is a simile.
- Line 46: The woman seems to associate mornings with happiness. She says that she is happy when she sees birds wandering in a field in the morning, before they take off for a hard day of flying.
- Lines 59-60: She can also associate happiness with the evening. She looks forward to seeing a bird called the swallow flying around in the near-darkness. There will be only enough light to see the outline of the swallow’s distinctive wings.
- Line 92: The pagan men chant in the morning to celebrate the rise of the sun. In her own way, the protagonist also celebrates the sun.
- Lines 102-103: The morning is a symbol of promise and beginnings, but all beginnings must come to an end, just like morning eventually turns into evening. But, the men are united in a "heavenly fellowship" because they accept that the morning will end or "perish," and celebrate it anyway.
- Line 111: Up until now, the woman sometimes seems anxious that the morning must end and turn into evening. Here, the poet recognizes that morning and evening "depend" on one another.
- Lines 118-120: It’s kind of odd that the poem ends with the imagery of darkness and evening, considering that it’s called "Sunday Morning." The darkness is a symbol of death, change, and mystery, but the end of the poem doesn’t take a stand on whether these are good or bad things.