After by Philip Bourke Marston - Poem Analysis (2023)

‘After’ by Philip Bourke Marston presents words that arise from a heart, broken and sad. It is a testimony of a person who has nothing left in his life instead of grief. For him, the little things that once existed before have now given way to grief only. It is not that it’s an elegy written for the poet’s lost love. The poem presents a mixed kind of emotions that appear and fade away in the poet’s mind. Moreover, the brevity of expression in the poem and the repetition of the word “little” make the poem closer to the heart as it speaks the truth! Nothing stays. What remains is the recollection of the past.

After by Philip Bourke Marston - Poem Analysis (1)

Explore After

  • 1 Summary
  • 2 Structure
  • 3 Literary Devices
  • 4 Analysis, Stanza by Stanza
  • 5 Historical Context
  • 6 Similar Poetry


‘After’ by Philip Bourke Marston is an emotional poem that talks about the little things that the poet longs to do.

‘After’ by Philip Bourke Marston talks about the poetic persona’s little wishes. He doesn’t want anything bigger from life except for pleasant things that cheer the heart. Likewise, in the first three stanzas, the poet talks about the lady whom he loved. Now, she is not with the poet. For this reason, he desires those things that once made him feel happy. In the following two stanzas, the poet says what he really wants to say to his beloved. There is still something left in his heart that he wants to tell her about. Moreover, in the last stanza, the poet sighs for the “long, long” years that he has to live alone with a sad heart. What is left in him, is the endless heartache. It will only end in eternal sleep.


‘After’ by Philip Bourke Marston consists of six four-line stanzas. The poet employs a regular rhyme scheme in the poem and he makes use of the closed rhyming form. It means that the first and fourth lines of each stanza rhyme together. Whereas, the second and third lines form a rhyming couplet. As an example, in the first stanza, “laughter” and “after” rhyme and “sing” rhyme with “cling”. The repetition of “A little” throughout the poem except in the last stanza, refers to the main idea of the poem. It is no doubt about the little things that make one cheerful.

However, the metrical composition of the poem is interesting enough. In each stanza, the first and fourth lines contain 7 syllables each. Whereas, the second line and third line contain 6 and 8 syllables respectively. In this poem, the lines having 6 and 7 syllables contain the iambic trimeter. But, the first and fourth lines have hypermetrical endings. Moreover, the third line of each stanza is in iambic tetrameter. However, it can be said that the poem is composed of iambic trimeter as the majority of the lines contain this meter.

(Video) After by Philip Marston. Summary and line by line analysis.

Literary Devices

‘After’ by Philip Bourke Marston is a poem that has some important literary devices to discuss. The epigrammatic sense present in each section of the poem is also very interesting. However, in the first stanza, the first three lines contain anaphora. The last line of this stanza is somehow paradoxical in sense. In the second stanza, the second line contains a personification. Here the poet also uses a metaphor for referring to himself. However, in “golden dreams” there is a metonymy. Here, the poet refers to the dreams that one values the most. In the third stanza, there is a simile in the third line and here the poet compares himself to a ghost. Whereas, in the last stanza, the poet uses hyperbole and a metaphor as well.

In the fifth stanza, the poet uses synecdoche in the second line. Here, by referring to “heart” the poet associates himself. There is an alliteration in the third line of this stanza. Here, the “s” sound in “short sharp” gets repeated for the sake of emphasis. Moreover, in the last stanza, there is a palilogy in the use of the word “long” twice. It is no doubt a hyperbolic expression. In the third line, “Great grief” is an example of consonance. The poet also personifies “grief” in this line and invests it with the idea of desolating the soul. At last, the poet uses a periphrasis or circumlocution for pointing to “death”.

Analysis, Stanza by Stanza

Stanza One

A little time for laughter,

A little time to sing,

A little time to kiss and cling,

And no more kissing after.

‘After’ by Philip Bourke Marston presents how the poet longs for his lady love. The love story has ended abruptly and there is still feeling left in the poet’s heart. The poet can imagine how they laughed and sang together. The sensation of kissing her and clinging her closer to his heart, reminds the poet about the brevity of his relationship. He is sad because he can’t find any other person just like her. For this reason, the poet reiterates there is “no more kissing” after she has left.

Stanza Two

A little while for scheming

Love’s unperfected schemes;

A little time for golden dreams,

(Video) After - Philip Marston - CIE English Literature GCSE

Then no more any dreaming.

‘After’ by Philip Bourke Marston presents the foolish schemes that one thinks of to please his beloved. The poet doesn’t have enough time for scheming too as she was there in his life for a short time. In the second line, the poet refers to the schemes of love as “unperfected”. It is true that no matter how one tries to perfect the plans to please his beloved, it appears as imperfect at the end. It is ironic but true.

In the last two lines, the poet refers to his dreams of the future with the lady. According to the poet, the dreams are golden because the dreams revolve around the lady whom the poet adores the most. The last line again reiterates the negation for the sake of emphasizing the poet’s mental state.

Stanza Three

A little while ’twas given

To me to have thy love;

Now, like a ghost, alone I move

About a ruined heaven.

In the third stanza of ‘After’, the poet refers to the transience of the lady’s love. He implicitly compares love with life and refers to the transience of both. In the last two lines, there is a reference to the poet’s loneliness. He feels like a formless ghost as the lady’s departure has devastated his spirit. Now, he roams in the heaven that he created in his mind. The heaven, created with love and care, is now in ruins. And, the poet is the guardian spirit of that broken heaven.

Stanza Four

A little time for speaking

Things sweet to say and hear;

(Video) IGCSE CIE Literature Poetry - After

A time to seek, and find thee near,

Then no more any seeking.

In the fourth stanza of ‘After’, Marston expresses how much he longs to speak with her. He wants to hear her words that linger in his mind and soothes his soul. The stanza reflects how badly the poet misses the lady. However, in the last two lines, the poet seeks her again and finds her near like before. But, sadly he can’t. In the last line, the poet says, “Then no more any seeking.” It means that the poet just needs a brief encounter with the lady again and nothing more.

Stanza Five

A little time for saying

Words the heart breaks to say;

A short sharp time wherein to pray,

Then no more need of praying;

In the fifth stanza of ‘After’, the poet presents what he really wants to say to his beloved. His heart is breaking as it can’t hold those words anymore there. He has to say it anyhow. For this reason, he prays to God to make her return. Thus the poet can unfold his heart and say what he badly wants to. He seeks nothing else. Apart from that, there is another thing to note here that the poet has no other desires except for talking with her.

Stanza Six

But long, long years to weep in,

And comprehend the whole


Great grief that desolates the soul,

And eternity to sleep in.

‘After’ by Philip Bourke Marston talks about the poet’s grief-stricken condition in the last stanza. For emphasizing how sad the poet is he uses the word “long” in the first line of this section. The poet doesn’t even get enough time to comprehend what has gone wrong in the relationship. That’s why he says he needs to think about his flaws and the relationship as a whole in the upcoming years. In the last two lines, the poet refers to his desolation and says that only eternal sleep or death can end his heartache.

Historical Context

‘After’ by Philip Bourke Marston is a poem that refers to a lady who had left the poet. The tone and mood of the poem present that the poet isn’t aggravated about the departure. He badly misses her presence. Moreover, the poet lost his fiancee Mary Nesbit in November 1871. So, it seems that the poet might have addressed this poem to her.

Similar Poetry

Like ‘After’ by Philip Bourke Marston the following poems also talk about the theme of loss and the transience of love in one’s life.

  • The Definition of Love by Andrew Marvell – The mental state of Andrew Marvell in this poem is similar to that of Marston.
  • Heart, we will forget him! by Emily Dickinson – Here, Emily Dickinson wants to end her heartache by forgetting the person she loved.
  • The Broken Heart by John Donne – Here, John Donne talks about the power of love that destroys one’s emotions.
  • The Broken Heart by William Barnes – In this poem, William Barnes presents a woman deceived in love.

You can read about 10 Incredible Poems about Death here.



What is the analysis of poem after by Philip Bourke Marston? ›

'After' by Philip Bourke Marston presents words that arise from a heart, broken and sad. It is a testimony of a person who has nothing left in his life instead of grief. For him, the little things that once existed before have now given way to grief only. It is not that it's an elegy written for the poet's lost love.

What is the meaning of after poem? ›

Happily Ever After-Poem

A common form of intertextuality used to respond to other poems is the “after-poem”. Loosely defined as a poem in homage to, in conversation with, or inspired by another poem, after-poems are ubiquitous in poetry.

What is the tone in after poem? ›

Tone: Sad and morbid. The poetic voice makes the audience feel the void and angst that time evokes in him.

When was the poem after by Philip Bourke Marston written? ›

"After" is a song written by the English composer Edward Elgar in 1895, as his Op. 31, No. 1, with the words from a poem by Philip Bourke Marston. The manuscript is dated 21 June 1895.

What is the main idea of the poem analysis? ›

Main idea is what the poem is mostly about. It's not a summary because it doesn't contain many specific details. The main idea is the idea that all those little details go to support.

What is the main message of the poem? ›

The theme of a poem is the message an author wants to communicate through the piece. The theme differs from the main idea because the main idea describes what the text is mostly about.

What is at the end of a poem? ›

In poetry, an end-stop refers to a pause at the end of a poetic line. An end-stop can be marked by a period (full stop), comma, semicolon, or other punctuation denoting the end of a complete phrase or cause, or it can simply be the logical end of a complete thought.

What does final stanza mean? ›

Concluding words. Conclusion of a poem or book.

What is final line in poetry? ›

An end-stopped line is a line of poetry in which a sentence or phrase comes to a conclusion at the end of the line.

What is the mood of the poem? ›

In poetry, the mood describes how word choice, subject matter, and the author's tone convey an overall feeling that characterizes the emotional landscape of a poem for readers.

What is imagery in a poem? ›

Elements of a poem that invoke any of the five senses to create a set of mental images. Specifically, using vivid or figurative language to represent ideas, objects, or actions.

What is the poem's mood and tone? ›

Vocabulary. Tone | (n.) The attitude of a writer toward a subject or an audience conveyed through word choice and the style of the writing. Mood | (n.) The overall feeling, or atmosphere, of a text often created by the author's use of imagery and word choice.

When was the poem words written? ›

'Words' was one of the last poems Sylvia Plath wrote before her tragic suicide in February 1963. (Plath would kill herself on 11 February 1963, in a London apartment she had decided to rent because W. B. Yeats had once lived there; 'Words' was written on 1 February.)

What are the poems written about Day of the Dead called? ›

For the Mexican holiday Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, writing rhyming poems called calaveras literarias — mocking epitaphs for the dead or satire targeting the living — has become a proud tradition.

When was the poem Remember written? ›

'Remember', written by Christina Rossetti (1830-1894) when she was still a teenager, is a classic Victorian poem about mourning and remembrance. It was written in 1849 but not published until 1862 when it appeared in Rossetti's first volume, Goblin Market and Other Poems.

What is the central idea of a story or poem? ›

Theme is the main or central idea in a literary work. It is the unifying element of a story.

What is the central idea of the poem answers? ›

Complete answer:

A poem's core concept is the subject of the poem, or 'what it's about' if you like. While many shy away from poetry being 'about' something, at the end of the day, as it was written, the poet had something in mind, and that something, whatever it was or may have been, is the central concept.

What is the moral lesson that the poem teaches us? ›

if we take challenges with full courage then challenges will become our friend and will reach to great heights in our life.

What is the ending or conclusion of the poem? ›

Poetic closure is the sense of conclusion given at the end of a poem.

What are the 4 main parts of a poem? ›

These structures are also known as the elements of poetry. The basic elements of poetry include meter, rhyme, scheme, verse, and stanza.

How do you end a poem analysis? ›

In your conclusion you can emphasize crucial ideas, raise questions about the poem, or connect the poem to other literary works or experiences. This is where you can offer your interpretation of the poem, which by now should be convincing to your reader since you have presented your evidence in the body of the paper.

What does 4 lines in a stanza mean? ›

A quatrain in poetry is a series of four-lines that make one verse of a poem, known as a stanza. A quatrain can be its own poem or one section within a larger poem. The poetic term is derived from the French word “quatre,” which means “four.”

What is poem of 3 lines per stanza? ›

A tercet is a stanza of poetry with three lines; it can be a single-stanza poem or it can be a verse embedded in a larger poem.

Is a stanza every 4 lines? ›

Like lines, there is no set length to a stanza or an insistence that all stanzas within a poem need be the same length. However, there are names for stanzas of certain lengths: two-line stanzas are couplets; three-lines, tercets; four-lines, quatrains. (Rarer terms, like sixains and quatorzains, are very rarely used.)

What are 5 lines in a poem called? ›

A quintain (also known as a quintet) is any poetic form or stanza that contains five lines.

Why are the last two lines of the poem? ›

The last two lines of the poem mean that the poet accepts reality. The poet made a choice and took the challenging path.

What is each line in a poem called? ›

Although the word for a single poetic line is verse, that term now tends to be used to signify poetic form more generally.

What is the figure of speech used in the poem? ›

Poets use figures of speech in their poems. Several types of figures of speech exist for them to choose from. Five common ones are simile, metaphor, personification, hypberbole, and understatement. A simile compares one thing to another by using the words like or as.

What is the tone in a story? ›

In literature, tone is, simply put, the attitude that a character or narrator or author takes towards a given subject.

What is irony in poem? ›

As a literary device, irony implies a distance between what is said and what is meant. Based on the context, the reader is able to see the implied meaning in spite of the contradiction.

What is simile in poem? ›

Simile is common poetic device. The subject of the poem is described by comparing it to another object or subject, using 'as' or 'like'. For example, the subject may be 'creeping as quietly as a mouse' or be 'sly, like a fox. '

What is a hyperbole in a poem? ›

A figure of speech composed of a striking exaggeration. For example, see James Tate's lines “She scorched you with her radiance” or “He was more wronged than Job.” Hyperbole usually carries the force of strong emotion, as in Andrew Marvell's description of a forlorn lover: The sea him lent those bitter tears.

Is the overall emotion or feeling expressed in the poem or story? ›

Mood is the general feeling or atmosphere that a piece of writing creates within the reader.

Why do poets use imagery? ›

Poets use images to express their ideas or feelings. In order to understand the meaning of a poem, it is important to understand the way imagery has been used. Different types of imagery Personification is giving human qualities to animals or objects.

How do you analyze tone? ›

To infer the tone of a piece of literature, we will need to recognize and explain how the author uses each of the following elements: diction, imagery, details, language, and syntax. These elements are known, for short, as DIDLS. Diction refers to the author's choice of words and phrases.

What is the word poem explanation? ›

A poem is a piece of writing in which the words are chosen for their beauty and sound and are carefully arranged, often in short lines which rhyme.

What's the shortest poem? ›

According The Guinness Book of Records they claim Aram Saroyan's poem M written in the mid 1960s is the world's shortest poem. This poem consists of a four-legged version of the letter 'm' thus making it one and a half letters long.

What are the 3 types of poetry? ›

There are three main kinds of poetry: narrative, dramatic and lyrical. It is not always possible to make distinction between them. For example, an epic poem can contain lyrical passages, or lyrical poem can contain narrative parts.

What is the theme of death poem? ›

The theme of death is one of the most discussed themes in pieces of poetry and prose. It can be associated with the theme of life or be presented with the help of its depiction through the analysis of the human values.

What type of poem is after death? ›

Christina Rossetti's "After Death" is a Petrarchan sonnet in which the speaker addresses a man who had been in her life, but she addresses him after she is dead. This scenario suggests that the poem treats the topic of unrequited love, a common topic in lyric poetry, as the basis for the narrator's feelings.

What is the theme of dead Poets? ›

The most significant theme of the movie is 'carpe diem'. It is the phrase that professor Keating uses in his first lecture. This phrase means' seize the day' and it shows the unorthodox teaching approach of the professor. The movie highlights the importance that you only live once and you should live on your own terms.

What is the repetition in the poem remember? ›

Rossetti repeats the word “remember” throughout the entire poem, as if the narrator fears that her beloved will not heed her request. She also uses repetition to emphasise the vast boundary between life and death, writing “gone away,” and later, “gone far away.” when I am gone away – euphemism for death.

What does the poet want the lover to do in the poem remember? ›

In this classic Victorian poem dealing with love and mourning, the poet implores her lover to remember her after her death and even if he forgets her, she requests him not to feel guilty but rather to appreciate fondly the memories of whatever good times they had spent together.

What literary devices are in the poem remember? ›

Poetic Devices in Remember:

The poem is written in Iambic pentameter and is a sonnet. The octave of “Remember” follows your basic ABBA ABBA scheme, while the sestet has the unique, but still perfectly legal, scheme CDD ECE.

What is the poem the afterlife about? ›

The poem describes the speaker's fantasies of what would happen if everyone, when they died, experienced the afterlife they believed in when they were alive. Like many of Collins's poems, "The Afterlife" is rife with humor and a wry sense of the unusual.

What is the interpretation of the poem? ›

Poetry is written to be read aloud; therefore, poetry interpretation is regarded as recreating the thoughts and emotions of the poet in the minds of the audience.

What is the theme of the poetry the morning after '? Explain it in your own words? ›

The poet says that after every dark night there is always a pleasant and chirpy morning. We should always be calm and contended with what we have and should not be greedy for more and more. The more we remain contended, the more we will have in life.

What is the analysis of Milton's sonnet? ›

Likely written in the mid-1650s, after Milton lost his eye-sight, the poem reflects on the physical and spiritual challenges the speaker faces as a blind person. He feels unable to complete the tasks that God has set for him, and worries that he is squandering his capacity to serve God.

What is the theme of the poem after death? ›

In "After Death" (1862) Christina Rossetti addresses common themes in Victorian poetry at the time — death, tragic love, and the possibility of an afterlife.

What is the message in after life? ›

According to Gervais himself, the overarching message of “After Life” season three is to make the most of life while you can. It is no doubt a challenge to convey such a broad and universal idea through any artistic medium, let alone a six-episode season of television.

What is the message at the end of afterlife? ›

When asked what the ending means, Gervais said: “It's just that life goes on, you know? When we're all dead and buried, that field's still there, the Tambury Fair is still going, that tree is still there, and it's basically said that we all die, but not today.” He continued: “That's what the ending is saying.

What is the central statement of the poem? ›

The central theme of a poem represents its controlling idea. This idea is crafted and developed throughout the poem and can be identified by assessing the poem's rhythm, setting, tone, mood, diction and, occasionally, title.

How do you analyze the imagery of a poem? ›

How to analyse imagery – A step-by-step guide
  1. Read the passage to see if there is something recognisable to the senses.
  2. Identify the examples using sensory imagery; and then: ...
  3. Ask yourself what this imagery is representing?
  4. Write about what this imagery does, and how it supports your argument using a T.E.E.L structure.

How does the theme convey the poems message? ›

Theme: Poetry often conveys a message through figurative language. The central idea and the subject matter can reveal the underlying theme of a poem. 2. Language: From word choice to imagery, language creates the mood and tone of a poem.

What is a main idea of a poem a story or a paragraph? ›

The main idea is the point of the paragraph. It is the most important thought about the topic. To figure out the main idea, ask yourself this question: What is being said about the person, thing, or idea (the topic)? The author can locate the main idea in different places within a paragraph.

What is the tone of the poem? ›

The poet's attitude toward the poem's speaker, reader, and subject matter, as interpreted by the reader. Often described as a “mood” that pervades the experience of reading the poem, it is created by the poem's vocabulary, metrical regularity or irregularity, syntax, use of figurative language, and rhyme.

What is a sonnet poem answer? ›

Traditionally, the sonnet is a fourteen-line poem written in iambic pentameter, employing one of several rhyme schemes, and adhering to a tightly structured thematic organization. The name is taken from the Italian sonetto, which means “a little sound or song.”

What is the poet's message in the sonnet? ›

Answers 1. Shakespeare's main message is that which will fade in life (beauty) can be immortalized in verse.... his poetry will live forever.

What is the message of the first sonnet? ›

The Poem's Message

Procreation and obsession with beauty are the major themes of Sonnet 1, which is written in iambic pentameter and follows traditional sonnet form. In the poem, Shakespeare suggests that if the fair youth does not have children, it would be selfish, as it would deprive the world of his beauty.


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