The poem according to this type of construction has a lot of traits of a lyrical song or even a ballad, which also implies that the reader perceives it like a singing soul’s confession. This type of stanza perfectly fits the mood of the poem and makes it heartfelt. The last two d-d lines are the most melodic part of each stanza and contain the most voluptuous lines of the poem. Especially the last ones: “Delight men’s eyes, when I awake some day. To find they have flown away? ” which reflect the fear of the person to lose the last remainder of his youth.
The poem expresses very personal feelings of a man that has realized his maturity and dreams about staying young in his heart. This is especially resembled in the analogy with the swans: ‘Their hearts have not grown old”. The opening stanza owing to its balladic construction shows the “sadness” and the nostalgic mood of the author: [“THE TREES are in their autumn beauty, The woodland paths are dry, Under the October twilight the water Mirrors a still sky; Upon the brimming water among the stones Are nine and fifty swans. “] The first two lines use autumn with all its manifestations as a metaphor of the undone of the author’s young age.
Four syllables in the first line and the three in the second one make the accent of the second line even harder. The “dry woodland paths” from the second line mean that a lot of paths in the author’s life have already been forgotten. The third line’s “October twilight” is a metaphor used to express the end of not simply the year but the life of the author. The water/Mirrors a still sky;”- is assonant with the “fading” mood of the first stanza. As the sky and the water are still, everything in the life of the poet is still and prided from any dynamic events.
The language of the next stanza is rather figurative, as it is very hard to understand the literal meaning of the water reflecting the sky. Here, the sky is the world around and the water is the soul of the author that is calm and still. And as the acknowledgement of this passivity of life the last two lines are calm and without any particular stresses/ converting the iambic meter sound more like a musical composition. The “nine and fifty swans” represent high spiritual goals once he has achieved, the culmination of his self-perfection and youth.
The nineteenth Autumn has come upon me” is the indicator of the fact that the poet did not even notice how the time flew by. The opening line of the second stanza: “Since I first made my count:’ implies that the moment that has happened nineteen years ago became very important to the author. The word order in these two lines reflects the correct attitude of the author to the situation. “All suddenly mount/And scatter wheeling in great broken rings/Upon their clamorous wings”, – the author compares the flight and the game of the swans that “suddenly mount” to the days when he was nuns, strong and in love.
The “broken wings” the swans “wheel” in the sky may be interpreted as the thing that the author had not finished in his life a broken relationship. [“l have looked upon those brilliant creatures, And now my heart is sore” I, hearing at twilight, The first time on this shore, The bell-beat of their wings above my head, Trod with a lighter tread. “] The swans are “brilliant creatures” for the mind of the author, and so the author’s “heart is sore”. The definition of being sore perfectly fits the context of the line, cause the heart of the author is not “strong” any more.
The flight of the swans- identifies the happiness of the youth of the poet and without this happiness “All’s changed since”. It is much harder for the author to “Trod with a lighter tread” now, when his old age is all upon him. He is not young anymore; he does not hear the “bell-beat of their wings” above his head or in other words he does not feel the optimism that is so typical for young people. The poem reflects the tragedy of being alone and not like the “unwearied still, lover by lover” swans.
The author feels that he cannot “climb the air” anymore, he can’t overcome the hardships of the destiny but only “paddle in the cold water”, following the stream of the fade events of the old age. All the “passion and conquest” of the author’s youth has left him, and will be a forever companion of the days when he was young, loving and brave. The author feels sorry for those days and the understanding that there is no other possibility to revive them other than by watching the swans fly and love – oppresses him. [“But now they drift on the still water
Mysterious, beautiful; Among what rushes will they build, By what lake’s edge or pool Delight men’s eyes, when I awake some day To find they have flown away? ‘ The last stanza has the same construction as the rest. It reflects the repetitions of the events, which took place nineteen years ago. The past seems so “mysterious, beautiful” for the author. He realizes that youth is the slave of other people now: “Among what rushes will they build,/By what lake’s edge or pool/Delight men’s eyes” – people he does not know and people who are happy being young.