It might not seem like it when you're sitting in class and watching the clock, but time is always moving. And even though it seems to move at a pretty slow pace sometimes, it eventually catches up with everything. In "As I Walked Out One Evening," Auden explores just how inescapable Time really is.
Questions About Time
Auden chose to use a pretty traditional image, a river, to represent the movement of Time. What is it about rivers that make them work as symbols of Time? Can you think of any other images that would work? (Let's assume clocks and watches go without saying. Push yourself.)
There's tons of Time imagery and symbolism in this poem (rivers, talking clocks). It's obviously a major theme. Is the Time theme also reflected in the poem's form or structure? If so, how?
Love is powerful. It makes the lovers in the poem believe they are invincible. Time is powerful. As the clock says, "You cannot conquer Time." Imagine a battle between Love and Time. To make it more interesting, pick an animal or object to represent each idea. What did you pick, and why?
Chew on This
Even when the poem's goo-goo eyed speaker praises the power of Love, the poem's structure and form reinforces Time's dominance.
Those pesky clocks keep chiming on about the power of Time. What are they worried about? Why should they care? They're on Time's side, right? Yes and No. They care because they are in the same boat as the lovers and everything else. The tone of the clock-speaker seems desperate because eventually even the clock's voice will be silenced by the very thing clocks were created to monitor: Time.