Cecil Frances Alexander

All Things Bright and Beautiful by Cecil Frances Alexander

‘All Things Bright and Beautiful’ by Cecil Frances Alexander describes how God is responsible for creating all things, positive and negative, big and small, in the world. 

This poem was written by Cecil Frances Alexander, an Anglo-Irish hymn-writer born in 1818. She is best known for this simple, celebratory poem. She passed away in 1895. ‘All Things Bright and Beautiful’ has been used in a variety of contexts, including in television shows, movies, and novels

All Things Bright and Beautiful
Cecil Frances Alexander

All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful,
The Lord God made them all.

Each little flower that opens,
Each little bird that sings,
He made their glowing colors,
He made their tiny wings.

The rich man in his castle,
The poor man at his gate,
God made them high and lowly,
And ordered their estate.

The purple headed mountain,
The river running by,
The sunset and the morning,
That brightens up the sky;−

The cold wind in the winter,
The pleasant summer sun,
The ripe fruits in the garden,−
He made them every one.

The tall trees in the greenwood,
The meadows where we play,
The rushes by the water,
We gather every day;−

He gave us eyes to see them,
And lips that we might tell
How great is God Almighty,
Who hath made all things well.
All Things Bright and Beautiful by Cecil Frances Alexander


Summary 

‘All Things Bright and Beautiful by Cecil Frances Alexander depicts the world as a creation of God. 

Throughout the poem, the poet describes God as the originator of all things. It’s from God that the birds and flowers get their colors and wings or petals, and it’s from God that the vast landscapes of the world were created.

God is responsible for the poor man’s suffering and the rich man’s success and chooses who is to suffer and who is to live well. The poem concludes with the speaker turning the text to focus on themselves and those around them. 

Themes 

The main theme of this poem is religion. Specifically, the speaker’s belief in the Christian story of the Earth’s creation. The speaker spends their lines of the text emphasizing their belief in God’s creation and how God is responsible for every small positive and negative thing in the world as well as grand, sweeping landscapes. 

Structure and Form 

‘All Things Bright and Beautiful’ by Cecil Frances Alexander is a seven-stanza poem that is divided into quatrains or sets of four lines. These lines follow a simple rhyme scheme of ABCB, changing the end sound from stanza to stanza. The poet uses a great deal of repetition in this poem, seen at the beginning and end of lines. 

Literary Devices 

In this poem, the poet uses a few literary devices. They include: 

  • Anaphora: the use of the same word or phrase at the beginning of multiple lines. For example, “All” in the first three lines. 
  • Repetition: the use of the same literary device multiple times. For example, the poet uses the same style of line throughout almost the entire poem. 
  • Alliteration: the repetition of the same consonant sound at the beginning of multiple words. For example, “wise and wonderful” in line three of stanza one and “river running” in line two of stanza four. 
  • Parallelism: the repetition of the same sentence structure. For example, “The rich man in his castle, / The poor man at his gate.”


Detailed Analysis 

Stanzas One and Two 

All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful,
The Lord God made them all.


Each little flower that opens,
Each little bird that sings,
He made their glowing colors,
He made their tiny wings.

In the first stanza of this uplifting poem, the poet begins by using the line that later came to be used as the title, “All things bright and beautiful.” The speaker emphasizes how (in their worldview) all things that have ever existed on Earth, including “All things wise and wonderful,” were made by God. 

The speaker is referring to concepts in Christianity and God’s creation of all living things throughout the poem. The poet goes into more detail in the second stanza, mentioning flowers and birds specifically. These two classically beautiful natural things are a perfect representation of the peaceful and optimistic tone the poet uses throughout. God took a great deal of time over his creation, the speaker says. He went into detail and made birds’ “tiny wings.” 

Stanzas Three and Four 

The rich man in his castle,
The poor man at his gate,
God made them high and lowly,
And ordered their estate.


The purple headed mountain,
The river running by,
The sunset and the morning,
That brightens up the sky;−

The poet’s speaker moves away from the elements of nature they were speaking about in the stanza to in order to discuss human beings in stanza three. God made both the rich man and the poor man. God is responsible for all the joys and suffering in the world, the speaker says, and chose who was to suffer and who was to live well. 

The fourth stanza uses anaphora through the repetition of the word “The.” It takes readers into a broad landscape and mentions the mountains, river, sky, and sunset. Each of these is also part of God’s creation, the speaker implies. 

The poet intentionally takes the reader through very different images, from the grand landscape to a single poor man without enough provisions to live easily to a single colorful bird. Each contrasting element of the world is the responsibility of God. 

Stanzas Five and Six 

The cold wind in the winter,
The pleasant summer sun,
The ripe fruits in the garden,−
He made them every one.


The tall trees in the greenwood,
The meadows where we play,
The rushes by the water,
We gather every day;−

The fifth and sixth stanzas also show the same example of anaphora as appeared in the fourth stanza. By listing out so many different elements of the world, the poet is also using a literary device known as accumulation. They bring the reader to images of the winter and the summer (example of juxtaposition) and to the ripening fruits in a garden. 

God made the tall trees, the speaker continues on, and the “meadows where we play.” It’s in the second line of stanza six that the poet first uses a pronoun— “we.” They include their speaker in a playful, happy image in the poem, suggesting that the poem’s lines may have been delivered to a group. For example, one child explaining their understanding of the world to their friends or siblings.

Stanza Seven 

He gave us eyes to see them,
And lips that we might tell
How great is God Almighty,
Who hath made all things well.

The seventh stanza continues using the pronouns “we” and “us.” The speaker concludes the poem by moving away from the abstract and into the specific and very relatable. They address those around them, saying that God gave “us eyes to see” and “lips that we might tell” how great God is. 

The poem wraps up satisfyingly. It has a clear conclusion that is meant to inspire readers to share the poem and take this specific understanding of the world into their everyday life. 

FAQs 

What is the message of ‘All Things Bright and Beautiful?’ 

The message is that God created the world and everything in it, from the smallest creatures to the largest mountains. The speaker wants to remind readers of this opinion and inspire them to share it. 

What is the tone of ‘All Things Bright and Beautiful?’

The tone is celebratory and appreciative. The speaker is clearly grateful for the world they have access to and for everything that they see God as having done for humanity. 

What type of poem is ‘All Things Bright and Beautiful?’

‘All Things Bright and Beautiful’ is a hymn. It’s written in celebration of God’s creation and as a way of reminding those listening of this specific religious message. 

Who is the speaker in ‘All Things Bright and Beautiful?’

The speaker is unknown. They are not meant to be a specific person. Instead, the poet wrote this piece so that any reader from any walk of life could relate to the words. 


Similar Poetry

Readers who enjoyed this poem should also onside reading some other related poems. For example: 

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Emma Baldwin Poetry Expert
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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