'Summer is Ended' - Language, tone and structure

Language and tone

The passion of the speaker in Summer is Ended is expressed through the use of exclamation marks, italics (‘this') and questions. The language can be linked to everyday speech rather than to anything polished and prepared. By expressing surprise and voicing thoughts that appear to have only just arisen, the speaker indicates a sense of improvisation.

Throughout the poem, the speaker repeatedly uses the pronouns ‘our' and ‘we'. Through this, she indicates that it is not just herself who has these thoughts but a group of people. She is presenting herself as the mouthpiece for this group.

Investigating language and tone

  • How would you describe the tone of Summer is Ended?
  • How do you think that the question, ‘who knows?' (line 3) would be asked?
  • Do you think the tone of the speaker changes at any point during the poem?

Structure and versification


The rhyme scheme in Summer is Ended is identical for both verses. Running ababa, it can be described as chiasmic. In poetry or speech, a chiasmus is where two parallel grammatical structures occur in which the words or ideas are placed in the opposite order. In rhyme, a chiasmus can be identified where a mirror-like pattern exists.

The words that are rhymed are simple and short (masculine rhyme). This reinforces a straightforward and simple tone and gives certain ideas added emphasis.


There are sudden shifts in the underlying metre which unsettle the reader and give a jolty rhythm. In the first stanza, the flowing anapaests of the first, third and fifth lines are disrupted by the heavy trochees and dactyls of l, 2 and 4. The rhythm becomes more insistent in the second stanza, where the non-appearance of anticipated syllables ‘wrong foots' the reader.

Investigating structure and versification

  • Consider the appearance of the poem on the page. What do you notice?
  • How does the metrical pattern in the second verse of Summer is Ended vary from the pattern used in the first?
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