Here is an analysis of Waterfall by Lauris Dorothy Edmond looking at the context, structure and form of the poem. Of course, this is much up to the interpretation I put on this poem, which I will back up with evidence throughout.
I do not ask for youth, nor for delay
in the rising of time’s irreversible river
that takes the jewelled arc of the waterfall
in which I glimpse, minute by glinting minute,
all that I have and all I am always losing
as sunlight lights each drop fast, fast falling.
Immediately, Lauris starts by talking about ‘time’s irreversible river’. It is clear already that this poem is going to have a lot in common with time as a theme.
- The ‘irreversible river’ is personifying time as a river, that you can only go in one direction and not turn around – much like a waterfall. It is also clear Lauris does not want to go back in time from the first line ‘I do not ask for youth, nor for delay’.
- By describing the waterfall as ‘jewelled’ makes it seem picturesque, that it is of something beautiful. Since a waterfall is part of nature, Lauris creates a link between nature and beauty.
- Juxtaposition is created on the third line, ‘I glimpse, minute by glinting minute’. A glimpse is a partial view of something contrasting against the fact she is looking for minutes. There is also alliteration created from ‘glimpse’ and ‘glinting’.
- The last line of the first stanza uses a very interesting technique of repeating words for extra emphasis one after the other, ‘sunlight lights‘ and ‘fast, fast falling’. She is making clear how the sun crystallizes the water falling. The sunlight could be regarded as happiness as both are associated with being bright and positive. So, it is happiness and the joy moments in life that make clear how ‘fast’ the water is falling from the waterfall – time flies by when you are having fun. Alliteration is created from repeating words and also continues the theme of time. By repeating the word continues the flow of the poem.
- The poem does not rhyme at all which creates a flowing sensation (possibly representing time flowing by). This is supported by the fact only the first character of each stanza is capitalized, so it seems each stanza is one long line to read.
- It is important to note that full stops are used throughout the whole poem at the end of each stanza. This creates some structure for the poem, especially with the fact each stanza has six lines.
I do not dream that you, young again,
might come to me darkly in love’s green darkness
where the dust of the bracken spices the air
moss, crushed, gives out an astringent sweetness
and water holds our reflections
motionless, as if for ever.
In this stanza, Lauris is talking about someone she had feelings for. By looking at her history, she was married to a man named Trevor Edmond (1920 – 1990). Although it is unclear when she wrote Waterfall, it is possible she wrote it towards the end of the marriage or when Trevor passed away. This is because this poem makes clear she is missing a loved one: Trevor.
- Lauris misses Trevor but does not wish to go back in time to ‘ask for youth’ or ‘dream that you, young again’, as much as she enjoyed the memories of being young, supporting how she is flowing along with time. However, the reader will want to know why Lauris does not want to go back in time, to a time where the reader guesses were happy memories with her loved one.
- Lauris refers to love as a ‘green darkness’. She emphasizes how the love is dark by mentioning it twice. However, why is the love dark? Does Lauris not enjoy the love since by representing the love as dark makes it sound negative. As well as this, the choice of colour for love gives an impression of a natural love.
- The line mentioning ‘bracken’ is very interesting. There are two alternating generations of bracken, one large plant that produces spores and a small plant that produce sex cells. So, the ‘spices in the air’ could refer to something sexual. The theme of nature continues in the stanza.
- The comma after ‘motionless’ creates a pause moment – this pause makes the poem almost come to a standstill: motionless, contrasting against the flow the poem has had up to them in parallel to how time flows.
- Lauris talks about water holding their reflections ‘motionless, as if for ever’. This creates strong juxtaposition against everything else in the poem since before she has been talking about time as an ‘irreversible river’ that cannot be stopped etc. But, her reflection is ‘motionless, as if forever’ – her love for her partner was enough to overpower time and stop it or moments will come and go but memories are timeless.
It is enough now to come into a room
and find the kindness we have for each other
— calling it love — in eyes that are shrewd
but trustful still, face chastened by years
of careful judgement; to sit in the afternoons
in mild conversation, without nostalgia.
In the third stanza she comes back to reality, of Lauris and Trevor being in a room. She doesn’t want to relive the past but it will simply be ‘enough now’ for her and her lover to sit in a room, and make ‘mild conversation’. The ‘face chastened by years’ suggests they are both old so it is a progressive poem that is in chronological order. The fact the poem continues the same path parallel to time emphasizes how time is all empowering and, to some extent, has control over the structure of this poem. Lauris mentions ‘eyes that are shred’ – it seems the love for each other has been tested over the years and is a strained love if they have made judgement upon one another be it ‘careful’. The fact that can make ‘mild conversation, without nostalgia’ suggests both Lauris and Trevor did not feel the same love that once felt for each other, but still appreciate each other with ‘kindness’.
But when you leave me, with your jauntiness
sinewed by resolution more than strength
— suddenly then I love you with a quick
intensity, remembering that water,
however luminous and grand, falls fast
and only once to the dark pool below.
The last stanza is brilliant. She describes that it is only when her partner leaves her that she loves him the most – it is when she has not got her lover that she misses him most – a theme about taking things for granted possibly considering up to this point, the love for Trevor has not bee that strong.
Laruis then finishes the poem talking about the water from the waterfall reflecting on the cruel mistress which is time, ‘falls fast and only once to the dark pool below’. The water is time and the ‘dark pool’ could suggest death, that her lover has lived than has fallen victim to time and death. Her potential point to this is that no matter how beautiful and amazing her love for her partner is, it will not overpower time like she thought the ‘motionless, as if forever’ memory would. Time is always in power and will always mean everything will not last forever. When Trevor leaves her and dies, she loves him the most because she knows he will never be able to come back and misses him most when gone.
Ultimately, I feel this is a regretful poem by Lauris Edmond. She obviously had affectionate feelings for Trevor, her husband. But, she never really showed it or appreciated him while he was there. Lauris simply let time tick away until the moment came when he died. After knowing he will never come back, only then does she realize how much she actually loved him and it because he cannot come back and that the water, being personified as time, ‘falls fast and only once’, as much as in hindsight it would not.