The Ecchoing Green - Language, tone and structure

Language and tone

The vocabulary is simple and repetitive, reflecting the simplicity both of the speaker and the scene. The emphasis is upon groups of words signifying happiness – ‘happy', ‘merry', ‘cheerful', ‘laugh', ‘joys', ‘sport'.

The likeness of the children to the birds is emphasised in the first stanza in terms of their common pleasure and play. In the final stanza, their likeness is in their common need for rest and their pleasure in one another. The children are curled and secure around their mothers just like birds in a nest

Investigating language and tone

  • List the words used to describe the children and those describing birds
    • In what ways are they similar?
    • What do they suggest to you?

Structure and versification

The neatness of the closed rhyming couplets enhances the mood and tone of the simple completeness of the children's experience. It suggests, too, the simplicity of a child's speech or nursery rhyme. Using short lines means that the rhymes quickly follow one another, giving an audible sense of ‘echo'.

The lines are of five or six syllables in the first two stanzas, lengthening to five, six or seven syllables in the last verse. There is a basic pattern of two stresses per line, with one stress on the end syllable. This creates a rising rhythm. and gives the poem a positive, jaunty feel.

The repetition of ‘Such, such' gives this line three stresses and causes the reader to linger. This may suggest an underlying lament, especially as the next line is also slowed down by the caesura ‘we all, girls…'.

Investigating structure and versification

  • Try writing a sentence yourself which includes two repeated monosyllables and see what effect it has
    • Then write the same one with one of the repeated words missing
      • How do these two lines compare in their effect?
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