Bliss Carman

Earth Voices by Bliss Carman

‘Earth Voices’ by Bliss Carman is a clever poem that utilizes personification in order to convey the perspective of the sun, the wind, and the rain.

Within this memorable poem, the poet utilizes numerous literary devices that help in his personification of the natural elements: the wind, the sun, and the rain. Although it might take readers a few lines to wrap their heads around the poet’s concepts within ‘Earth Voices,’ it is well worth the effort.

Earth Voices by Bliss Carman


Summary 

‘Earth Voices’  by Bliss Carman depicts a memorable series of images regarding the interconnectivity of the natural world. 

In the first lines of this poem, the poet describes the wind’s voice, what it contains, and what it does for the world. The second stanza follows the same format but personifies the sun. The third section is the last to utilize the five-stanza quatrain form and is spoken from the perspective of the rain. The final part of the poem is an eight-line stanza that depicts the three prior elements as interrelated.

Themes 

Throughout ‘Earth Voices,’ Bliss Carman engages primarily with the theme of nature. He explores how the natural world speaks in a variety of languages, all of which are unified in their support of one another. Utilizing a variety of images and clever examples of imagery, the poet depicts the wind, the sun, and the rain.

Structure and Form 

‘Earth Voices’  by Bliss Carman is a four-part poem that is divided into sets of four and eight lines. The first three parts contain five stanzas (quatrains) each, and the final part only has one stanza (an octave). The poem follows a simple and easy-to-read rhyme scheme of ABCB that adds to the overall feeling of Carman’s text. The perfect rhymes provide a melodic atmosphere for his images of “star dust,” “brushwood fire,” and the whisper of spring light. 

Literary Devices

Throughout this poem, the poet makes use of several literary devices. These include but are not limited to: 

  • Imagery: a particularly interesting description the poet includes in their work. It should trigger and inspire the reader’s senses. For example, “I am the whirl of star dust, / I am the lift of wings.”
  • Personification: can be seen when the poet utilizes human characteristics for something that is not human. Throughout this time, the poet utilizes personification to give the earth a voice.
  • Enjambment: can be seen when the poet cuts off a line before its natural stopping point. For example, the transition between lines one and two of the first stanza. 
  • Metaphor: a comparison between two unlike things that does not use “like” or “as.” For example, “I am the breath of being, / The primal urge of things.” 


Detailed Analysis 

Part I

Stanzas One and Two

I heard the spring wind whisper

Above the brushwood fire,

“The world is made forever

Of transport and desire.

“I am the breath of being,

The primal urge of things;

I am the whirl of star dust,

I am the lift of wings.

In the first lines of ‘Earth Voices,’ the speaker introduces a very specific voice that they heard. It is described as the voice of the “spring wind.” This is a clear example of personification that continues throughout the poem. After the first two lines, the speaker introduces the words of the spring wind as above the “brushwood fire.” 

The wind makes a series of first-person declarative statements. But, first, notes that the world is “forever / Of transport and desire.” Here, the wind is alluding to the way in which life comes and goes and, like the wind itself, changes direction. The world is also made of “desire,” a suggestion of human emotions, like passion, but also likely an allusion to the natural instincts of all living things.

The second stanza contains an example of anaphora. This is seen through the repetition of the phrase “I am the.” The wind uses these first-person statements in order to describe itself as the “breath of things,” “the primal urge of things,” “the whirl of star dust,” and “the lift of wings.” 

Within these lines, the wind, as a personified force and the embodiment of life in all living things, suggests that it resides at the center of everything. The wind is seen in every breath of every living thing and is there when a bird flaps its wings and lifts off into the sky. It is ever-present and unavoidable. 

Stanzas Three and Four 

“I am the splendid impulse

That comes before the thought,

The joy and exaltation

Wherein the life is caught.

“Across the sleeping furrows

I call the buried seed,

And blade and bud and blossom

Awaken at my need.

Within the next lines, the poet continues creating a series of statements that are spoken from the perspective of the wind. The wind, which is within this poem taking on one of the voices of the Earth, describes itself as the “splendid impulse” that comes before the thought. Here, readers should imagine an intake of air that occurs prior to someone confessing an important thought. As noted in the line about the breath of all living things, the wind is there when one expresses “joy and exaltation.” 

The wind, it says, also carries seeds across the “furrows in the ground” and because of the way that it moves across the earth, plants bud and blossom. They are called forth by the wind’s need. 



Stanza Five 

“Within the dying ashes

I blow the sacred spark,

And make the hearts of lovers

To leap against the dark.”

In the fifth stanza of part one, the wind describes how within the ashes of a fire, it blows the “sacred spark” an image that is representative of the creation of life and safety. Again, the poet alludes to feelings of desire and passion when he mentions the “hearts of lovers.” 



Part II 

Stanzas One and Two 

I heard the spring light whisper

Above the dancing stream,

“The world is made forever

In likeness of a dream.

“I am the law of planets,

I am the guide of man;

The evening and the morning

Are fashioned to my plan.

In the second stanza, the poet transitions into another personified natural perspective. This time, the “spring light” or the sun. The voice whispers, as the wind did, “above the dancing stream.” It notes that the world is “made forever / In likeness of a dream.” This adds to the overall atmosphere of the poem, ensuring that readers are fully entrenched in a version of nature that is mysterious, beautiful, and worth listening to. The light of spring says that it is the “law of planets” and what guides man. As the sun comes up, it says that the world is “fashioned” to the sun’s plan. It is in its control. The sun is just as confident as the wind was in the previous section.

Stanzas Three and Four 

“I tint the dawn with crimson,

I tinge the sea with blue;

My track is in the desert,

My trail is in the dew.

“I paint the hills with color,

And in my magic dome

I light the star of evening

To steer the traveller home.

The sun continues its descriptions of its role in the following lines. It describes the colors it creates in the sky, the sea, and the shadows it casts in the desert. Unlike the first part of the poem, this second section is very much focused on color and light. One of the more memorable images from the section is the sun as a “star of evening” that steers the traveler home. Throughout this poem, the poet focuses on natural images but does not stray far from including human beings and human experiences within that landscape.

Stanza Five 

“Within the house of being,

I feed the lamp of truth

With tales of ancient wisdom

And prophecies of youth.”

In the final part of this section, the sun alludes to a more symbolic role it plays. That is, as an image of light, warmth, and often God and goodness within many mythologies. The sun describes itself as feeding the lamp of truth with “tales of ancient wisdom.” This is an allusion to how central the sun is to religions around the world.

Part III

Stanzas One and Two 

I heard the spring rain murmur

Above the roadside flower,

“The world is made forever

In melody and power.

“I keep the rhythmic measure

That marks the steps of time,

And all my toil is fashioned

To symmetry and rhyme.

The third part of ‘Earth Voices‘ follows the same structure as the previous two sections. But, this time, the poet conveys the words of the “spring rain.” The rain speaks about its “rhythmic measure” and progress. The following lines move away from the sun’s focus on light and speak about fertility, life, and change over time.

Stanzas Three and Four 

“I plow the untilled upland,

I ripe the seeding grass,

And fill the leafy forest

With music as I pass.

“I hew the raw, rough granite

To loveliness of line,

And when my work is finished,

Behold, it is divine!

In stanzas three and four, the poet presents juxtaposed images. The rain is at once capable of ripening the seeding grass and hewing the “raw, raw for granite.” It is gentle, but over time, it is incredibly strong. It can change entire landscapes, even those made of the strongest granite. Once again, the poet presents the element with a confident tone. The rain is sure of itself and its ability to make an impact on the world. It also knows, as the sun and wind did, that it is necessary for survival.

Stanza Five 

“I am the master-builder

In whom the ages trust.

I lift the lost perfection 

To blossom from the dust.”

The rain is responsible for creating life all around the world. It notes that it is the “master-builder” who, without which no life will survive. It is even capable of reviving seemingly lost landscapes to “blossom from the dust.”

Part IV

Stanza One 

Then Earth to them made answer,

As with a slow refrain

Born of the blended voices

Of wind and sun and rain,

“This is the law of being

That links the threefold chain:

The life we give to beauty

Returns to us again.”

The final part of the poem is eight lines long and transitions away from the format readers will have grown accustomed to in the previous three sections. The Earth provides an answer to these three central elements that the poet focused on. It speaks slowly and with “blended voices” made of the “wind and sun and rain.” 

The first three parts of the poem are described as, together, giving “beauty” and life to the world. Then, as things die, that life returns to the elements. Here, the poet alludes to an interest in the circle of life, what happens to matter after life passes, and the overarching theme of interconnectivity. 

FAQs 

Why did Bliss Carmen write ‘Earth Voices?’ 

The poet wrote this poem in order to express his interest in the natural world and his opinion in regard to the interconnectivity of all living things, including the elements. The piece suggests that all readers, no matter where they’re from or what time period they live in, have a stake in the wind, the sun, and the rain.

What is the tone of ‘Earth Voices?’

The tone is appreciative, confident, and peaceful. Throughout, no matter which natural element the poet is personifying, the tone remains appreciative and peaceful. The wind, the rain, and the sun express their role confidently within the natural world and convey images that present nature in unifying terms.

What is the message of ‘Earth Voices?’

The message is that all living things are connected to one another and, especially, to the three key elements: sun, wind, and rain. Readers are meant to walk away from this poem with a revitalized interest in the natural world and an appreciation for the interconnectivity of its elements.

Who was Bliss Carman?

Bliss Carman was born William Bliss Carman in Canada in April 1861. His work was celebrated throughout his life, and he was named the Poet Laureate of Canada near the end of his career. Two of his best-known works are Low Tide on Grand Pré and Songs from Vagabondia.

What is Bliss Carman’s best poem? 

Although Bliss Carman is not a famous poet today, many of his poems are of great literary importance. For example, ‘The Joys of the Open Road’ was published in his first volume. It was heralded as a welcome change from the dreary and “heatless” poetry of the mid-late 1800s. 


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About
Emma graduated from East Carolina University with a BA in English, minor in Creative Writing, BFA in Fine Art, and BA in Art Histories. Literature is one of her greatest passions which she pursues through analyzing poetry on Poem Analysis.
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