Study Guide

Lullaby Time

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The speaker of "Lullaby" knows that nothing lasts forever and that time passes. He includes several obvious symbols of time in his poem, and talks a whole lot about the fleetingness of life. But you know what? He seems pretty okay with the fact that nothing lasts forever. In fact, he thinks that the fleetingness of life makes it all the more valuable and beautiful. He's not lamenting time; he's celebrating it.

Questions About Time

  1. What is the relationship between time and death in the poem?
  2. Why does Auden include two symbols of death (a clock and a bell)? Shouldn't one be enough?
  3. How do the tarot cards that predict the future fit into the poem's view of time?
  4. The speaker says that time "proves the child ephemeral." Is there something special about time and children in this poem? Or does time prove adults ephemeral too?

Chew on This

The speaker has a kind of carpe diem (seize the day) attitude in this poem. He says that since life is short, we have to make the best of our time here.

The speaker is actually much more pessimistic. He says that we've just got to accept what we've got, because we're all going to die one day.

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