‘Weariness’ by Eva Gore-Booth is a two stanza poem that is separated into sets of twelve lines. Gore-Booth has chosen to conform this piece to a consistent and structured rhyme scheme. The lines follow the pattern of ababcdcdefef, changing end sounds in the second stanza.
The poet chose to use a regular rhythm in the lines as well as predictable rhymes in order to lull the reader. One moves back and forth with the indentions the speaker crafts her idealized emotional and mental state. She is seeking out peace in her life, a peace that can only be found through sleep and death.
A reader should also take note of the meter used in ‘Weariness.’ The lines follow a pattern of iambic tetrameter. This means that the lines are divided into four sets of two beats. The first of these is unstressed and the second stressed. A perfect example of the meter at work is in the fourth line of the first stanza, “My weary soul cries out for peace.”
Summary of Weariness
It is clear from the first lines that Gore-Booth’s speaker wants to escape from her life. Her soul is weary of those around her and the sounds she cannot rid herself of. Everything is loud and constantly present. The majority of the poem is made up of the speaker describing death and the peace she knows she could find there.
Death is a place where everyone would become mute. The only sounds present would be the crashing of water on rocks. Her vision would always be full of stars, the sea, and the moonlight on the water. These are all calm and steady sights. She does not believe she could live this kind of life at present.
Analysis of Weariness
Amid the glare of light and song
And talk that knows not when to cease,
The sullen voices of the throng,
My weary soul cries out for peace,
In the first stanza of this piece, the speaker begins by setting the scene. It is important to the overall feeling of the poem that the reader understands the environment in which the speaker is operating. It is her feelings about this place that drives the narrative.
The first thing she mentions about her world is that it is filled with the ”glare of light and song.” She uses the word “glare” in this line to show that the atmosphere is painful to her. The speaker is taking no pleasure from the “song” or the “talk that knows not when to cease.” Those speaking around her will not be quiet. They are talking too loudly and for too long.
In amongst all of these sensations is the speaker. She has grown “weary” of them, all the way to her soul. It is the peace she is looking for now.
Peace and the quietness of death;
The wash of waters deep and cool,
The wind too faint for any breath
To stir oblivion’s silent pool,
She expands on her requests in the next lines. There are two things she wants and they come together, “Peace and the quietness of death.” It seems to her that death is the only place she is going to find the respite she needs from the world.
The next lines describe the speaker’s idea of what death is going to be like. When she dies she is going to feel the “wash of waters deep and cool.” She is going to be consumed by these pure and cleansing feeling that take her breath away. The speaker will find herself in a new “oblivion” that is very much the opposite of her current situation. These elements will come together to transform her world.
When all who swim against the stream,
And they that laugh, and they that weep,
Shall change like flowers in a dream
That wither on the brows of sleep.
In the last four lines of this stanza, she describes how the wind and water will impact those who “swim against the stream” as well as those who “laugh” and “weep.” The speaker, as well as everyone around her, will be changed. They will become “like flowers in a dream.” No longer will people bother and torment her. They will fade away from her consciousness as would dreamed flowers.
For silence is the song sublime,
And every voice at last must cease,
And all the world at evening time
Floats downwards through the gates of peace,
In the second stanza, the speaker begins by making some sweeping statements about death and what will be required for it to be as peaceful as she wants. First, she says that “silence” is what she is really looking for. It is the best kind of “song” she could hear. This refers back to the first stanza where the speaker states that the “song” is glaring.
Death will allow her to exist in a word where all voices are quiet. Everyone will be mute and it will always be “evening time.” She sees this time of day as being an access point to the quiet of night. It is a gateway.
Beyond the gloom of shadowy caves
Where water washes on the stones,
And breaks with quiet foamless waves
The night’s persistent monotones;
In the next set of lines, she goes on to describe the process of finding peace, or entering into death, in two steps. The first of these involves moving through the darkness. One must brave the “gloom of shadowy caves.” There is water there that is washing over the stones. It is the only sound present in the scene. The water on rocks comes in a “monotone.” It is all she can hear.
The stars are what the flowers seem,
And where the sea of thought is deep,
The moonlight glitters like a dream,
On weary waters gone to sleep.
In the final four lines, the speaker looks beyond the initial darkness of death up to the “stars.” They are to her what “flowers seem.” The stars are alive, beautiful, and once again, quiet and mostly still. Around her is the “sea.” It too is mostly silent as it is “deep” in thought.
This is a beautiful and incredibly peaceful scene the speaker is painting. It is her ideal image of death. In the final lines, she describes how the “moonlight glitters” on the water “like a dream.” The water has fallen still and “gone to sleep.” Now there is no sound. Everything is at a standstill and she is left there to enjoy it.