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Analysis


Symbols, Imagery, Wordplay

Form and Meter

Charlotte Smith published "To Melancholy" as a part of her collection of poems she called "Elegiac Sonnets." She basically smushes together two types of poetic form: the elegy, or a sad, mournful p...

Speaker

The speaker of "To Melancholy" is addressing—you guessed it—her own melancholy. Imagine that you could open up your own brain, pull out your bad mood, set it on the desk in front of you, and ta...

Setting

"To Melancholy" takes place on the banks of the River Arun in the county of Sussex near the southern coast of England. (Go to "Best of the Web" for some images of the river and a map of the area.)...

Sound Check

"To Melancholy" is a meditative, mournful poem, and the sound of the words reflects this. The speaker is sitting on the edge of a river, watching the evening mists rise up over the water. As she sa...

What's Up With the Title?

Sonnets are traditionally love poems. If you don't believe us, just go read a couple of Shakespeare's sonnets, or Elizabeth Barrett Browning's. Or you could take it to the source, and go read some...

Calling Card

Okay, we get it. "To Melancholy" is… melancholy. It's in the title, after all! But it's typical of almost all of Charlotte Smith's poems. She had a lot to be bummed about (check out the "In a Nut...

Tough-o-Meter

This poem uses a lot of figurative language and has some unfamiliar vocabulary, but the sentence structure is relatively straightforward. You don't want to tackle this poetic hike in flip flops, bu...

Trivia

As a kid, Charlotte Smith didn't sneak out of the house to go to the mall or to the movies or even on dates. Nope—she was the kind of kid who would sneak out to the local library and read all the...

Steaminess Rating

Sorry to disappoint you, Shmoopers, but even though this is a sonnet, there's not a lot of steamy lovin' going on in this poem. If you want a Romantic-era poem with more steaminess, you should try...

Allusions

Thomas Otway was a poet and playwright from the late 1600s that Charlotte Smith particularly admired (he gets referenced in some of her other poems, too). Otway was famous for writing about human e...
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