‘The Autumn day its course has run–the Autumn evening falls’ by Charlotte Brontë is an eight-line poem contained within one stanza of text. Brontë structured this piece with a consistent rhyme scheme, it follows a simple pattern of aabbcdee. The poet also chose to write the lines in iambic heptameter. This means that each line contains seven sets of two beats. The first of these is unstressed and the second stressed.
One of the most prominent poetic techniques used in ‘The Autumn day its course has run…” is that of alliteration. This is seen to its greatest effect in line five. Here, the poet uses the words “spread,” “shadow,” “shed” and “stair” almost one after the other. The slipping sound of the repeated “s” changes the pace at which a reader moves through the line. It also emphasizes the “steal[ing]” presence of the “silent guest.” She is moving quietly and stealthily through the speaker’s home. There are a few other notable moments in which alliteration is also used, such as in lines four, seven, and eight.
A reader should also take note of how Brontë chose not to use any end line punctuation. In fact, the only real punctuation present in the text is the dash in line one, a comma in line five, and another dash in line seven. Aside from those moments, the lines are free to run into one another. This gives the piece a stream of consciousness feel as if the speaker’s words are becoming out unbidden and unconsidered.
Summary of The Autumn day its course has run–the Autumn evening falls
The poem begins with the speaker describing how the “Autumn day” is ending. These lines reference a single day as well as the entire season, year, and perhaps even hint at the end of life itself. The darkness of the twilight makes its way through the speaker’s home. She refers to the dark as a woman who is a “silent guest” in her house.
The “silent guest” makes her way through the various rooms, spreading her shadow. Eventually, after a lot of language suggesting the dark to be a malign presence, the two come together. Rather than engaging in a fearful meeting, they are clear comrades. Together they are able to offset one another’s loneliness and break up the isolated worlds they live in.
Analysis of The Autumn day its course has run–the Autumn evening falls
The Autumn day its course has run–the Autumn evening falls
Already risen the Autumn moon gleams quiet on these walls
And Twilight to my lonely house a silent guest is come
In the first lines of this piece, the speaker begins by utilizing the line that would come to be the title. She states that this particular day in “Autumn” has ended. Now, the “evening” has fallen onto the land. The speaker is describing a number of different experiences at once. The passing of the season, as well as of time itself, is condensed down into a single day. These lines move quite quickly. Before one has time to process the “day” it is already “evening” and then “Twilight.”
There is also something foreboding about these lines. Even as they move quickly a reader can feel the darkness building. It comes fast, and then suddenly the “moon” is flaming “on these walls.” Due to the first person narrative position, the reader is able to place themselves within the brief lines. When “these walls” are spoken of, it is as if they are the very walls surrounding the reader.
The next lines turn to focus on the darkness itself. It has come to the speaker’s house as a guest. “Her” presence is even more noteworthy due to the fact that the house is “lonely.” This darkens the mood further, placing the speaker is a glooming setting.
In mask of gloom through every room she passes dusk and dumb
Her veil is spread, her shadow shed o’er stair and chamber void
And now I feel her presence steal even to my lone fireside
Sit silent Nun–sit there and be
Comrade and Confidant to me.
When the darkness enters the speaker’s home it is silent. Its progress is so steady and quiet that if the speaker was not looking, she might not have noticed it grow. Rather than give a traditional description of the dark and the changes it brings to the home, Brontë chose to personify the force.
The darkness is a woman who “passes” through the rooms. She is covered in a “mask of gloom.” As she moves “dusk” and “dumb,” or silence, come with her. It is impossible not to relate this figure to some kind of grim reaper. She symbolizes the end of the day, the setting of the sun, and therefore death. The speaker states that she has a “veil” that is spread out. It is her “shadow” and sheds off her onto the “stair” and empty “chamber.” The rooms of the house are filling up with the guest’s darkness.
Finally, the visitor makes her way to the speaker’s “lone fireside.” Together, they are able to keep one another company. Up until this point, the uninvited visitor was spoken of as if she was the true embodiment of negativity and fear. That changed in the final two lines of the poem.
She becomes instead the speaker’s “Comrade and Confidant.” The two have something in common. The most obvious connection is their solitude, as seen through the speaker’s lonely house and the “Nun[’s]” silent procession through the house. It is also important to note the “Twilight” darkness, personified as a visiting woman, is called “Nun” by the speaker. This brings up images of austerity and a life spent away from the company of others, further supporting the idea that the two are comrades due to their mutual isolation.