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Theme in Yellow

Theme in Yellow

by Carl Sandburg

Autumn

Symbol Analysis

Yes, it's a harsh reminder that it's back to school time, but autumn can also be incredibly beautiful with all those changing colors. In Sandburg's poem, we get to see these colors actually change right before our eyes. And all the neat imagery is cause for celebration, with ghost songs and jack-o-lanterns to boot.

  • Line 2: We know it's autumn right from the beginning, not just because the speaker says so but also because of the changing colors. First we see yellow, then orange and gold clusters. So "Theme in Yellow" and autumn go together even better than pumpkin pie and vanilla ice cream. Yum.
  • Line 6: Another great matchup is "the last of October" and autumn. Nothing says autumn better than Halloween and pumpkins. So we see this "theme" developing from lots of different angles.
  • Line 11: And of course that "harvest moon" only happens in autumn, so now we also have the image of a giant orange moon to complement the scenery even more. Plus that moon is a great symbol for Halloween, so all the pieces of the poem are fitting together rather nicely.
  • Line 12: Let's not forget the star of the show: the "jack-o'-lantern." It makes sense that "Theme in Yellow" would end with the image of that highly recognizable grin and everything we associate with it. So all the autumnal imagery we've seen so far culminates in those "terrible teeth" and that famously spooky holiday and time of year.

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