Stanza one centers on the characteristics of flowers. They are gallant, humble, etc., and they return to the earth (figuratively, they die every winter–but this isn’t revealed until later) after putting on a show. His first lesson that he learnt was to become brave and to remember the place where the flower came from, as referred to line 1, 5-6 ” Brave flowers that I could gallant it like you“ The persona wishes that he could be as brave as the flowers, who are aware of their allegiance to the earth. ” You are not proud you know your birth for your embroidered garments are from earth.” They know their place and obey the order, or cycle, of life and death. The persona wishes that he could be this way because he is the opposite, he wants to live forever. The persona wants the flowers to teach him NOT to fear death, but to accept it. Line 1 can also be identified as a literary device known as personification because brave flowers cannot gallant which only living things such as animals or humans can do. Also in line 5 and 6 can be identified as Biblical allusion another literary device because the bible in the books of John and Mathew Jesus talked about the lilies in the field where they are created and their birth place. STANZA 2
Stanza two switches focus to the speaker: he would rather it be always spring, so he’d never have a winter (again, so he’d never die, but this doesn’t become clear until later: winter is often used as a symbol of death). He wishes he could go to the earth (his grave), and look as cheerful, and smile, as the flowers do when they go to their earth. The second stanza the speaker learnt the second lesson which was to accept nature and their selves for today the flowers in the field may be beautiful and blooming but tomorrow the flowers know their beauty will not last forever where they may withered away and torn to pieces. In line 7 and 8 “You do obey your months and times, but i would have it ever spring;” metaphor can be found in the sentence. STANZA 3
In stanza three, the focus on the speaker in stanza two combines with the focus on the flowers in stanza one, as the speaker asks the flowers to teach him to not fear death; to teach him that his breath may sweeten and perfume his death, as the flowers’ breath sweetens theirs . In the last stanza the poet learnt his last lesson which was to accept death as referred in line 13 and 14 ” Oh teach me to see death and not to fear, but rather take truce.” The only literary device that can be found is rhyme. In line 17 and line 18 ” You fragrant flowers then teach me that my breath like yours may sweeten and perfumed my death.” The name was given to the poem because the poet shows that the speaker is studying the poem. This poem “A contemplation upon flowers by Henry King” is about a man who wants the flowers to teach him to become humble. The comparison of the life of a simple flower is made to the life of a human, in the sense that we both are born, we both live, and we both must die. Majority of people fear death, but the flowers accept death with open arms and a smile. This poem by Henry King praises flowers for not only their humble lifestyles but also for their acceptance of death. Instead, the flowers taught him three lessons. LITERARY DEVICES
Stanza 1, line: The persona is wishing that he could be as brave as the flower. This implies that the persona does not think that he is brave, but a coward in the face of death.
Stanza 2, line 14: This is another comparison between the persona and the plant. The persona wishes that he could look death in the face and be cheerful, like the plant. Again, this emphasizes that he fears death.
This phrase is a replacement for the word death. It softens death and makes it appear welcoming and pleasant.
It is ironic that the flowers look so fresh and alive, when they are facing their very mortality, on the top of a casket. Death is a sad affair, yet the flowers are at their best when ushering people back to the earth.
The persona is speaking directly to the flowers and giving them human qualities, therefore, the whole poem is an example of the use of personification at its best. He even goes as far as to ask the flowers to teach him things that will allow him to acquire their qualities.
The tone of the poem is admiration, because the persona literally admires the flowers for its accepting attitude towards death. MOOD/ ATMOSPHERE
The mood, or atmosphere of the poem is a pensive one. The persona is thinking about death, how he relates to it versus how others relate to it.
A contrast in this poem is the persona’s fear of death, versus the flowers’ acceptance of it. THEMES
Death is the overwhelming theme in this poem. The persona admires the way in which the flowers deal with death and wish to emulate it. Death is a very scary prospect for the persona.Nature is his willingness to accept nature as a worthy contrast to humans personality and approach to life. He uses the natural to highlight the failings and weaknesses of man.
A Contemplation Upon Flowers by Henry King