Night - Language, tone and structure

Language and tone

The opening stanza establishes a mood of soft gentleness by the S alliteration and open vowels eg ‘flower', ‘bower'. Those words also have the connotation of femininity and medieval Romance. The soft F alliteration in the second stanza conveys the falling cadences of saying goodbye, which use of the past tense emphasises. It is replaced by alliterating B words which suggest the successive actions of the angels.

In the remaining stanzas, the diction concentrates on variations of the same words – especially ‘sleep' and ‘weep', and on words suggesting gentleness – ‘pitying', ‘mild', ‘tender', ‘meekness', ‘bleating', ‘graze'. The strength and nobility of the lion is conveyed by terms like ‘gold', ‘ruddy' and ‘bright'.

Investigating language and tone

  • Try writing a description of a scene using only words of a similar kind, whether harsh or gentle
    • What kind of impression does this produce:
      • Of the scene?
      • Of the speaker?

Structure and versification

The 8-line stanzas divide into two quatrains, rhyming ABABCCDD. This division is achieved by the change in metre, from regular and ponderous iambic feet to lighter anapaests which speed up the pace of the second quatrain.

The ending of each stanza with two rhyming couplets enhances the completeness and simplicity of the thought. The predictability encourages acceptance of the statements. So, too, every stanza is contained; we are invited to accept these scenes and move on.


  • Why do you think Blake created such an obvious change of rhythm within the poem?
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