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Symbol Analysis

The speaker of "To Melancholy" is in a mopey mood from the start. It's Autumn, so the trees are "half-leafless," darkness is falling, the wind is picking up, and mist is rising off of the river. It's like the beginning of a ghost story! And our mopey speaker likes to imagine ghosts and spirits. Maybe she feels like these mopey, melancholy ghosts will keep her company in her mopey, melancholy mood.

  • Lines 7-8: There are some good examples of alliteration in this line: the repeated S of "strange sounds," the repeated M of "mournful melodies," and the repeated W of "woes bewail." This alliteration sounds kind of ghostly in the context of these lines—you can imagine these "night wanderers" sighing and saying, "wooooooooo!" in the wind. Eek! Something funky is going on with the word "melodies," too—it's supposed to rhyme with "eyes" from line 7, but it only looks like it rhymes. This is called an eye-rhyme. Check out the "Form and Meter" section for more about that!
  • Line 12: The speaker addresses "melancholy" directly, as though it were a real person who could answer her. This is a good example of apostrophe (not those pesky punctuation marks, although it's pronounced and spelled the same way). By apostrophizing her own melancholy, the speaker makes her bad mood seem like it's a character in its own right. Maybe her melancholy is keeping her company. Or maybe she's in love with her own melancholy—after all, a sonnet is traditionally a love poem.

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