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Poetry Analysis: Walking Away by Cecil Day-Lewis

This poem tells the story of a man who has recently lost his wife, but it's also about how he copes with that loss. The poem is written in the past tense and is told in third person point of view. It's structured as a short narrative form called a sonnet (14 lines), which uses rhyme scheme ABAB CDCD EFEF GG.


Introduction to the poem

In Walking Away, Cecil Day-Lewis uses free verse and iambic pentameter to convey the feelings of a man who is walking away from his wife. The poem is written in three stanzas and each stanza consists of five lines with a total of fifteen lines. The first line contains ten syllables while each subsequent line has eight syllables except for the last line which has seven.

The poem is written in a ballad form and each stanza has an ABAB rhyme scheme. As the title of the poem implies, the narrator is walking away from his wife towards the end of their relationship. He feels that it is better to leave her alone than stay with her despite loving her so much because she does not love him back.

Background information about the author and work

Cecil Day-Lewis was born in County Wicklow, Ireland. He was a poet, playwright and novelist who served as Poet Laureate of Great Britain from 1968 to 1973. Day-Lewis was also known as a translator of the work of other poets; he translated into English works by Greek and Latin authors such as Homer's Odyssey and Virgil's Aeneid.

In this poem we can see some examples where his style is similar to that of Yeats' poetry because they both use metaphors to describe landscapes or nature scenes (i.e., "the lake lies like glass") but there are other elements that are unique only to Cecil Day-Lewis' style such as rhyme schemes which may not be familiar if you haven't read any other poems by him before--one example would be line 8 where there is an "iambic tetrameter" ("like glass").

The poem is written in iambic tetrameter which means that there are four feet per line and each foot has an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable. This type of rhyming scheme can be seen in line 8 where the first two words ("lake lies") both have the same rhythm; this makes it easy to read because the reader knows what to expect next.

The poem also uses alliteration which is when the first letter of each word in a phrase or sentence starts with the same sound. This can be seen in lines 1-2 where there are two examples of alliteration ("bright boughs") and one example of assonance ("silence").

Themes of the poem

  • Love and loss

  • Life and death, happiness and sadness

  • Youth and old age, time and eternity

How does this poem reflect the time period in which it was written?

The poem reflects the time period in which it was written. Poets of this period were focused on social issues, such as poverty and war; they wrote about nature and human relationships. The author of "Walking Away" uses images from nature to describe his feelings about leaving his lover behind.

The first two stanzas of the poem are very descriptive, using images of nature to describe how he feels about leaving. The author uses words like "fresh" and "green" to describe life in the country. The third stanza moves away from descriptions of nature and focuses on human relationships.

Analysis of the poem

It begins with a description of her as "a very beautiful woman," and then goes on to describe how she left him in the middle of the night, taking all of their money with her.

The author says that he knew she would do this because she was so beautiful, but he couldn't stop himself from loving her anyway. He says that even though he's lost everything because of his love for her, it was worth it because at least now he knows what love feels like (and presumably isn't lonely anymore).

The fact that Cecil Day-Lewis wrote this poem makes sense given its subject matter: he married actress Jill Balcon in 1946, after meeting while working together on stage productions earlier in their careers; they had two children together--Samuel James Hamilton-Goldsmith (born 1950) and Lydia Ruth Goldsmith (born 1951)--before separating in 1956 due to Cecil's frequent affairs with other women including Susan Elizabeth "Betty" Fisher who became Samuel James Hamilton-Goldsmith's stepmother upon marrying Cecil after his divorce from Jill Balcon in 1958. Although Cecil and Betty Fisher were married for 16 years until his death in 1972, they had no children together.

Two interpretations of the poem

One interpretation of the poem is that the speaker is walking away from his wife. The lines "I walk away from you,/And all our dead years behind me" suggest this. He has some regret over what he's done and wants to start anew with someone new.

The second interpretation is that the speaker is walking away from his lover (or perhaps just an acquaintance). In this case, we could assume that he feels guilty about leaving them behind so easily after having such an intimate relationship with them for so long ("the body at my side").


This is a well-written, thoughtful poem by a talented poet. The use of imagery and metaphor makes it evocative and poignant. It was written during World War II, so the reader can assume that the poet was experiencing some sort of sadness or longing for home, but the tone of this poem is not too heavy or depressing; rather, it is reflective and thoughtful.

Hopefully, this analysis has given you a better understanding of the poem "Walking Away." We've looked at its structure, the poet's use of language, and how he conveys emotion through his words. It is certainly possible to analyze poetry without knowing anything about its author or context--but if we want to understand what makes it great (or not), then knowing these things is essential!


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