“If All the Skies” by Henry van Dyke Poetry Analysis

*This is one of ‘rare’ poem’, so I made the analysis of this poem (beside it’s my assignment to do LOL) This is simple Poetry Analysis though. I hope it’s easy to be undestood :)*

If all the skies were sunshine,
Our faces would be fain
To feel once more upon them
The cooling splash of rain.

If all the world were music,
Our hearts would often long
For one sweet strain of silence,
To break the endless song.

If life were always merry,
Our souls would seek relief,
And rest from weary laughter
In the quiet arms of grief.

—-  Henry van Dyke

This poem is rich with metaphors that create the whole meaning of it. In every stanza, the poet contrasts two things to create a sense of balance in human’s life. In the first stanza, the speaker tells that human both need sunshine and rain, because too many sunshine or rain will not good for human nature. To illustrate, the sunshine is needed by humans for drying clothes, planting, and farming. Rain is also needed by humans for watering irrigation, watering the plants and grass, and creating good water cycle. However, if just one of them existed in this world, humans would not have a proper life. Humans need both rain and sunshine to make their living.

In the second stanza, the speaker contrasts music and silence in human’s life. Music can represent business, crowd, and hectic activity in life. We can see this in nowadays activity, especially in a big city which is busy and crowd both day and night. However, the speaker tells us that human also needs silence. Silence in here may represent a peaceful atmosphere and quiet place.  We can comprehend that too many loudness or activities will make us tired and stressful, and sometimes we just need our silent time to contemplate or life and get peace. Therefore, again, humans need both the two opposite things; music and silence.

The third stanza tells us that humans will yearn grief or sadness in between happiness. The speaker implies too much happiness will make humans long for grief. They are complementary because there is no happy moment can be called as happiness if humans never taste grief and vice versa.

The whole poem means that we, as humans, need a balance in our life. Sunshine is together with rain, music is together with silence, and happiness is together with grief. Those opposite things make our real life balance and proper. In the second layer of meaning, it can be interpreted that the speaker shows us the greatness of God who has made our world is perfectly balance. He made our nature poured with rain and the sunshine periodically, night and day, busy and silent, happy and sad, and sick and healthy. All of that creation is perfectly planned by Him for some reason and us as human indeed feel that God always knows what is good things for us.


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