William Herbert Carruth

Each In His Own Tongue by William Herbert Carruth

‘Each In His Own Tongue’ by William Herbert Carruth depicts the world and all its beauty and suffering, attributing the elements to evolution, longing, consecration, or God. 

The poem is unique in its construction and the way that readers can interpret two very different meanings. Depending on how one reads this poem, one could walk away from it, feeling as though the poet was speaking for or against the existence of God. This all hinges on the final stanza,, which starkly contrasts with the first three octaves, all of which were optimistic and filled with beautiful images. 

Each In His Own Tongue
William Herbert Carruth

A fire mist and a planet,A crystal and a cell,A jellyfish and a saurian,And caves where the cave men dwell;Then a sense of law and beauty,And a face turned from the clod —Some call it Evolution,And others call it God.

A haze on the far horizon,The infinite, tender sky,The ripe, rich tint of the cornfields,And the wild geese sailing high;And all over upland and lowlandThe charm of the goldenrod —Some of us call it Autumn,And others call it God.

Like tides on a crescent sea beach,When the moon is new and thin,Into our hearts high yearningsCome welling and surging in;Come from the mystic ocean,Whose rim no foot has trod —Some of us call it Longing,And others call it God.

A picket frozen on duty,A mother starved for her brood,Socrates drinking the hemlock,And Jesus on the rood;And millions who, humble and nameless,The straight, hard pathway plod —Some call it Consecration,And others call it God.
Each In His Own Tongue by William Herbert Carruth


‘Each In His Own Tongue’ by William Herbert Carruth is an interesting poem that explores the world’s beauty and may be interpreted in different ways. 

The poem’s first stanza explores the concept of evolution, suggesting the beautiful images the poet uses are either the result of evolution or God. The same format continues into the next lines, with the poet describing the natural world and then attributing parts of it to feelings and experiences while suggesting that instead, they could’ve been conceived by God. 

Structure and Form 

‘Each In His Own Tongue’ by William Herbert Carruth is a four-stanza poem that uses octaves or eight-line stanzas. The lines are quite short, usually no more than four or five words, and follow a rhyme scheme of ABCBDEFE, changing sounds from stanza to stanza. The poem also follows a basic structure, one that’s repeated at the end of each stanza. The poet describes the world and its elements before attributing the world’s beauty to something, like Autumn or Longing, suggesting that other people call this thing “God.” 

Literary Devices

In this poem, the poet makes use of a few literary devices. These include: 

  • Anaphora: the repetition of the same word or phrase at the beginning of multiple lines. For example, “A” starts lines one through three of stanza one. 
  • Imagery: the use of particularly creative and easy-to-imagine images. For example, “The infinite, tender sky, / The ripe, rich tint of the cornfields.”
  • Repetition: the use of the same literary device in multiple lines. In this case, the poet uses a variety of lines seven and eight of stanza one in each following stanza. 

Detailed Analysis 

Stanza One 

A fire mist and a planet,
A crystal and a cell,
A jellyfish and a saurian,
And caves where the cave men dwell;
Then a sense of law and beauty,
And a face turned from the clod —
Some call it Evolution,
And others call it God.

The poet begins this beautiful poem by using anaphora and listing out a few of the features that are part of the earth. They mention “A fire mist” and a “crystal” as well as a “jellyfish” and a “cell.” These are all things, along with “a sense of law and beauty” that define the world and were created, the poet notes, by “Evolution” or some “call it God.” This is a very striking opening to a poem, likely to pique readers’ interest and inspire them to move into the next stanza. The act of quickly engaging a reader’s interest at the beginning of a literary work is known as a “hook.” 

Stanza Two 

A haze on the far horizon,
The infinite, tender sky,
The ripe, rich tint of the cornfields,
And the wild geese sailing high;
And all over upland and lowland
The charm of the goldenrod —
Some of us call it Autumn,
And others call it God.

The description of a “mist” in the first stanza is brought back into the poem with “a haze” in the second stanza. It’s out on the “Far horizon,” the poet writes. In this way, the poet is able to draw readers’ attention to the “infinite” sky and the “tint of the cornfields.” These are incredibly beautiful images, ones that flow one after another, building upon what came before. This is a literary technique known as accumulation. The poet is painting a picture of the world, accumulating image after image in an effort to depict its many beautiful features. 

The second stanza is interested in “Autumn” – it’s revealed in the second to last line. The changing of the seasons means that the weather shifts, as does how nature appears. This is seen through the poet’s emphasis on the “goldenrod” spread across all land regions. Its golden color, a result of the changing seasons, should inspire readers to imagine all the plants changing throughout the world’s various regions and the new array of warmer colors replacing the greens that were once dominant. 

Stanza Three 

Like tides on a crescent sea beach,
When the moon is new and thin,
Into our hearts high yearnings
Come welling and surging in;
Come from the mystic ocean,
Whose rim no foot has trod —
Some of us call it Longing,
And others call it God.

The third stanza is about “Longing.” The poet’s depiction of “Longing” is again based on nature. This is the first stanza that attempts to depict emotion, one that the poet describes as “Like tides on a crescent sea beach” and the feeling one has when the “moon is new and thin.” High yearnings, or a longing, comes into humanity’s heart “from the mystic ocean.” This alludes to the idea that humanity is intimately and intricately connected to nature. From season to season, humankind’s emotions are intertwined with the beautiful movements and images in the natural world. 

The image of the “mystic ocean” with its welling and surging tides is the most dominant part of this stanza. It’s made even more powerful by the line, “Whose rim no foot has trod.” This alludes to the vast possibilities the ocean offers and its mysteries (leading to the poet’s depiction of it as “mystic”). 

Stanza Four 

A picket frozen on duty,
A mother starved for her brood,
Socrates drinking the hemlock,
And Jesus on the rood;
And millions who, humble and nameless,
The straight, hard pathway plod —
Some call it Consecration,
And others call it God.

The fourth stanza is quite different than those which came before it. The poet begins by describing a picket, a soldier who is “frozen” while standing guard, and a mother who starved herself to feed her children. These dark images are unlike what readers explored in the previous stanzas and stand in stark contrast to the optimistic, peaceful image of the world the poet has so far presented. 

The poet also mentions Socrates, Jesus, and millions suffering along the “straight, hard pathway plod.” These images build to the stanza’s main subject— “Consecration” or “God,” the poet offers. Until this point, the world’s most beautiful sights and sounds were offered as evidence of God’s existence. 

The poet seems to say that the world is so beautiful in the first few lines that a divine being must’ve played a role in its creation. “God,” he wrote, is always there as the reasoning behind beauty, longing, and creation. But, the fourth stanza questions this or at least complicates it. The poet indicates that if God created the most beautiful parts of the world, he is also responsible for the suffering depicted in the final stanza. 

Some have read this poem and interpreted it as a powerful testament to God’s existence, while others have read it and, with the addition of the fourth stanza, seen it as questioning God’s existence. Would a benevolent God allow the fourth stanza’s images to play out in the real world? Allow women to starve for the sake of their children, and countless loyal men die at their posts? 

How this final stanza is interpreted will likely vary depending on the reader and their previous beliefs. The poet seems to be accepting this, saying that each will call evolution, longing, and consecration what they want in their own tongue. Perhaps it is “Evolution” that created the world as humanity knows it today, or perhaps it was God. 


What is the theme of ‘‘Each In His Own Tongue?’ 

The theme is belief. The poet acknowledges that people have very different beliefs, depicted most clearly in the first stanza with the intentional contrast between evolution and God. 

What is the tone of ‘Each In His Own Tongue?’

The tone is descriptive and straightforward. The speaker does not appear to take a side in the argument regarding the existence of God and is instead simply laying out the two sides. 

What is the purpose of ‘Each In His Own Tongue?’ 

The purpose of this piece is to acknowledge differences in belief. This is accomplished by noting the beauty of the world as well as its darkest elements. These things are perhaps “Longing,” “Consecration,” “Autumn,” and “Evolution” or they are “God.” 

Similar Poetry 

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

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Emma Baldwin Poetry Expert
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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