The Falling Leaves Margaret Postgate Cole By Megan Sheppard
The Falling Leaves Today, as i rode by,I saw the brown leaves dropping from their tree In a still afternoon,When no wind whirled them whistling to the sky, But thickly, silently, They fell, like snowflakes wiping out the noon; And wandered slowly thence For thinking of a gallant multitude Which now all withering lay, Slain by no wind of age or pestilence, But in their beauty strewed Like snowflakes falling on the Flemish clay.
Themes and Ideas The main theme in this poem is war. The poem shows a womans reaction to World War I and was written in November 1915. While out for a ride, the sight of autumn leaves falling makes her think of soldiers dying on the battlefields of Flanders. This poem reflects the author’s perception of the tragedy of war, in which she both glorifies and undermines it.
Language and imagery “Fell like snowflakes wiping out the noon.” (Line 6)‘Brown leaves dropping from the - Use of a simile - comparing the leavestrees‘ (Line 2) to snowflakes, another image from- Use of a metaphor nature.- Referring to the deaths of the - Suggesting that there were so manysoldiers of them that they must have blocked- Suggests their deaths are out the light.pointless, and not glorious or - However, it could also suggest thatdramatic. the men are unique and delicate but- The leaves remind Cole of soldiers disappear when they hit the ground.dying because of the way they fall to This could mean that while the soldiersthe ground in the stillness. are beautiful in their glory, their deaths are quickly forgotten.“When no wind whirled themwhistling to the sky.” (Line 4)- Alliteration- Had they been blown around in theair, the effect would have been quite ‘Slowly thence’ (line 7)different. -This could imply that Cole slowed her pace from that- The word ‘sky‘, could perhaps be moment on, as she began thinking about the soldiers dyingreferring to heaven and glory. in the war.- No mention of the numbers of ‘Gallant multitude’ (Line 8)leaves and describes them as falling - Referring to their bravery as well as to the large number‘silently’ creates an eerie killed.atmosphere and could imply they diequietly, without objection.
Language and imagery“Which now all withering lay.” (Line 9)- Alliteration- The image conveys a sense of decayand waste, contrasting with the ‘Slain by no wind of age orbravery of the soldiers when they were pestilence’ (Line 10).alive. - Uses wind as a metaphor, taking another image from nature - She says that the soldiers have not been killed because of old age or disease but due to the war. In the second to last line of the poem Cole refers to the “beauty”of the soldiers, creating a contrast with the image oftheir bodies “withering” in line 9.In their beauty strewed is the best example of both glorifying and undermining their deaths. “Beauty”impliessomething of value, but they are scattered carelessly in their death (strewed‘).The reference to their “beauty” implies that they were still very young when they died.The poem closes with a simile in which Cole again compares the dead soldiers to “snowflakes”. Snowflakes melt soquickly, and the soldiers lives were so short. This time the mention of the “Flemish clay” leaves no doubt that she isreferring to the battlefields of Flanders.
Structure and form• The poem has 12 lines that alternate between long and short, although there is more of a difference in length in the first half of the poem.• Number of syllables: - Short lines = 6 - Long lines = 10• The whole poem is just one sentence, and the ideas are therefore closely linked.• This poem has a complicated rhyming pattern [A,B,C,A,B,C,D,E,F,D,E,F].
Voice The narrator of this poem is Margaret Postgate Cole, a spectator of the war. The effect of the voice is that it makes you see the events of the war from another perspective and allows the reader to relate to the situation. We get the impression that Margaret dislikes war and the idea of many men dying with little recognition and appreciation.
Audience• I think the audience for this poem could be the nation of people who have been left at home, who are unaware of all the soldiers losing their lives in the war. Cole is trying to make her audience aware of the war and the lives being lost and forgotten.