Study Guide

Parting at Morning Themes

  • Duty

    It might make you tired looking at the word, "duty," but in "Parting at Morning," there's no denying that our speaker has places to go and things to do in that "world of men." He's got a duty to himself to not just be a lover, like he was in "Meeting at Night," but to also be his own independent man. No matter how you cut it, we understand that love in the poem requires not just the lovey-dovey stuff, but also the independent dutiful stuff that allows a person to stand on his own two feet.

    Questions About Duty

    1. How does the poem's syntax contribute to the dutiful tone of the speaker? 
    2. How does the balance between nature and man reflect a sense of duty for either man or the natural world? Does everyone and everything seem as if they've got things to do? 
    3. Would the poem have sounded any different without all of the personification we see? Would the speaker have sounded any less dutiful?
    4. What comes to mind when you hear the phrase, "a world of men," in terms of duty?

    Chew on This

    Duty is everywhere in "Parting at Morning," whether the speaker is referring to himself or the natural world.

    Everyone, including nature, seems to have his own path in Browning's poem. And each path symbolizes a person's duty to himself.

  • Man and the Natural World

    We definitely can't ignore all of the personification in "Parting at Morning." And all that personification makes it seem as if man and nature are one and the same. The sun is personified as a man projecting a path of gold and peeking over the mountains, while the speaker prepares to embark on his own path. Even the mountains feel oddly reminiscent of the world of men. There's no doubting then that all of the vivid imagery in the poem is meant to bridge those gaps between man and the natural world.

    Questions About Man and the Natural World

    1. Why does the speaker appear to blend all aspects of nature (earth, sun, sea, air) in such a short poem? What's the effect of this? 
    2. How does parallelism contribute to this blending of man with nature? 
    3. Why is the sun personified as a guy in this poem? Is it just because the speaker is a guy or is there something else going on here? 
    4. What's the significance of the sun's "path of gold," which is followed immediately by the speaker's need of a "world of men"?

    Chew on This

    Man is part of the natural world, but in "Parting at Morning," he's so much so that even nature appears to look a bit like a guy.

    The natural world has its own purpose and path just like the speaker who's reminded of that "world of men" which he is inextricably a part of.