The opening image of the "ashen and sober" skies helps to set the mood in this poem. It prepares us for the generally grim, sorrowful mood of the speaker. It also focuses our attention on the landscape. Later in the poem, the speaker brings up the skies again, in a different and much more hopeful way.
- Line 1: In this line the skies are ominous and scary. They seem almost to be warning the reader away. In fact, it sounds a little like the speaker is describing a pale, serious human face.
- Line 45: Here the skies come back again, but the message is totally different. In this case the skies aren't ominous at all. Now they are a stand-in for heaven or paradise, the place where the speaker wants to go to escape his memories.