Fin de Fête by Charlotte Mew

Fin de Fête attracted the attention of Thomas Hardy in 1916. Because of this poem, Hardy told Charlotte Mew that she was extremely talented.

Fin de Fête has three stanzas with four lines each. It has an ABAB rhyme scheme, but the rhythm, throughout the poem, varies, as it alternates in each stanza. The closest metre to that of Fin de Fête is an iambic tetrameter. Charlotte Mew creates significant images, which are emphasized by the use of lexical repetitions. The word “and” is frequently repeated and there is a great use of punctuation marks.

In French, the word Fin means end, and, the word Fête refers to a party or to a celebration. Thus, Fin de Fête by Charlotte Mew depicts the end of a social occasion and refers to another person, another guest, a “you”. Fin de Fête is a love poem that depicts the depths and the sorrows of thwarted love.

 

Fin de Fête Analysis

First Stanza

Sweetheart, for such a day

One mustn’t grudge the score;

Here, then, it’s all to pay,

It’s Good-night at the door.

The first stanza refers to an event that ended. The lyrical voice starts the first line by referring to someone in particular (“Sweetheart”). Notice the emphasis on this word as the poet puts a comma directly after it. Then, the lyrical voice refers to this particular event: “for such a day”. According to what the lyrical voice is describing, this event has already ended and “One mustn’t grudge the score”. This means that there is a need to accept this closure and focus on the other side of the situation: “Here, then, it’s all to pay”. The punctuation in this line enables a different rhythm that emphasizes the message and prepares the reader for the last line. The lyrical voice finishes the stanza by stating that “It’s Good-night at the door”. This ending accentuates the fact that “such a day” ended and there is nothing to do about it (“it’s all to pay”). The tone in this stanza is quite uncertain, as it could be read in two different ways: a melancholic voice, which remembers the past in a mournful way, or a sarcastic voice that challenges the person that he/she is referring to with the word “Sweetheart”.

 

Second Stanza

Good-night and good dreams to you,—

Do you remember the picture-book thieves

Who left two children sleeping in a wood the long night through,

And how the birds came down and covered them with leaves?

The second stanza describes a memory. The lyrical voice repeats the words “Good-night” and, in this second stanza, accentuates it by saying “good dreams to you”. This other person, that the lyrical voice refers to, is now more explicit, as it is mentioned as a “you”. Then, the lyrical voice will describe another past event by evoking the other person’s memory: “Do you remember […]?”.  The lyrical voice appears to be describing a children’s tale because it refers to a “picture-book” where children were lost in the woods and “birds came down and covered them with leaves”. This pastoral image in the memory suggests a past moment where both the lyrical voice and this other person were happy, but, now, that moment has come to an end. The tone in this stanza changes, as the lyrical voice is more melancholic and hopeless.

 

Third Stanza

So you and I should have slept,—But now,

Oh, what a lonely head!

With just the shadow of a waving bough

In the moonlight over your bed.

The last stanza describes the lyrical voice’s present. The lyrical voice says that, in order to continue living those good times that he/she described in the previous stanza, they should have slept (“So you and I should have slept”). However, there is a dash that breaks with this continuity and establishes the current and real situation (“But now”). The lyrical voice depicts his/her sorrow by saying that now: “Oh, what a lonely head!”. This differs greatly from the image described in the previous stanza about the children and the birds. Furthermore, the lyrical voice furthers on his/her solitude as he/she ends the poem by saying: “With just the shadow of a waving bough/In the moonlight over your bed”. This, ultimately, shows that everything has ended and now the lyrical voice has nothing but him/herself and what he sees over his/her bed at night.

 

About Charlotte Mew

Charlotte Mew was born in 1869 and died in 1928. She was an English poet and her works extend over the Victorian and the Modernist era. Charlotte Mew was the eldest daughter of a family of seven children. She experienced a series of traumatic issues during her childhood that, later, became central themes in her poetry and prose. These include death, loneliness, disillusionment, and mental illness, among others. Charlotte Mew published her first poetry collection when she was in her twenties. She is remembered for her poems, but she also wrote several short stories that were published in Yellow Book, Temple Bar, Englishwoman, the Egoist, etc. In 1912, the Nation, published “The Farmer’s Bride”, a poem that made Charlotte mew gain some literary reputation at the time. She was praised by her contemporaries, such as Siegfried Sassoon, Sara Teasdale, Ezra Pound, Thomas Hardy, and Virginia Woolf. Charlotte Mew committed suicide in a nursing home where she was staying since her sister had died. She died in 1928.

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