Lullaby by W. H. Auden poem summary line by line

Lullaby by W. H. Auden poem summary line by line

Lullaby by W. H. Auden poem summary line by line-Lullaby serves as a poetic composition that gracefully envelops its readers in a tranquil ambiance, much like the soothing melody of a lullaby that tenderly lulls them into a state of peace and contemplation. Crafted by the esteemed poet W. H. Auden, this lyrical masterpiece explores themes of love, impermanence, and the intricate relationship between the transient and the everlasting.

Lullaby by W. H. Auden poem summary line by line

Lullaby by W. H. Auden poem summary line by line-Through its enchanting verses, the poem beckons readers to ponder the fleeting nature of life and beauty, all while celebrating the enduring strength of love. The rhythmic flow and evocative language create a calming and embracing effect, akin to a gentle hug, elevating "Lullaby" into a timeless and reflective piece of literary brilliance.

Lullaby poem summary

"Lay your sleeping head, my love,"

The speaker addresses their beloved, who is sleeping.

"Human on my faithless arm;"

The beloved is resting on the speaker's unfaithful arm.

"Time and fevers burn away"

The passage of time and life's challenges erode individual beauty.

"Individual beauty from"

The previous line continues, highlighting the transience of personal beauty.

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"Thoughtful children, and the grave"

Even thoughtful children lose their beauty to time, and death proves the ephemeral nature of life.

"Proves the child ephemeral:"

The grave serves as proof of the temporary nature of childhood.

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"But in my arms till break of day"

Despite the fleeting nature of beauty and life, the speaker wants the beloved to stay in their arms until morning.

"Let the living creature lie,"

The speaker refers to the beloved as a living creature.

"Mortal, guilty, but to me"

Describing the beloved as mortal and guilty, but beautiful and special to the speaker.

"The entirely beautiful."

Despite flaws, the beloved is seen as entirely beautiful by the speaker.

"Soul and body have no bounds:"

Love transcends physical and spiritual boundaries.

"To lovers as they lie upon"

Describing lovers lying together.

"Her tolerant enchanted slope"

Referring to a slope, possibly a metaphorical landscape, that is enchanted and accepting.

"In their ordinary swoon,"

Lovers experience an ordinary, blissful state of unconsciousness.

"Grave the vision Venus sends"

Venus, the goddess of love, sends a vision to the lovers.

"Of supernatural sympathy,"

The vision includes supernatural empathy between lovers.

"Universal love and hope;"

The vision encompasses universal love and hope.

"While an abstract insight wakes"

Amidst natural elements like glaciers and rocks, a deep understanding is awakened.

"Among the glaciers and the rocks"

The setting shifts to glaciers and rocks, perhaps symbolizing the harsh realities of life.

"The hermit's carnal ecstasy."

A hermit experiences a physical and spiritual ecstasy.

"Certainty, fidelity"

Certain and faithful elements are mentioned.

"On the stroke of midnight pass"

These elements pass at midnight, possibly representing a critical moment.

"Like vibrations of a bell,"

They pass subtly, like the vibrations of a bell.

"And fashionable madmen raise"

Fashionable madmen, possibly referring to societal trends, make their cry.

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"Their pedantic boring cry:"

Their cry is characterized as pedantic and tedious.

"Every farthing of the cost,"

The cost, possibly the consequences of actions, will be paid.

"All the dreaded cards foretell,"

Foreseeing consequences through metaphorical cards, like in fortune-telling.

"Shall be paid, but from this night"

The payment is certain, but from this night forward.

"Not a whisper, not a thought,"

No communication or contemplation will be lost.

"Not a kiss nor look be lost."

Every affectionate gesture will be cherished and not forgotten.

"Beauty, midnight, vision dies:"

Beauty, midnight, and vision fade away.

"Let the winds of dawn that blow"

Welcoming the winds of dawn.

"Softly round your dreaming head"

The winds surround the beloved's dreaming head gently.

"Such a day of welcome show"

Wishing for a welcoming day to come.

"Eye and knocking heart may bless,"

Hoping that both the eye and the eager heart may find joy.

"Find the mortal world enough;"

Hoping the mortal world brings contentment.

"Noons of dryness find you fed"

Wishing for fulfillment even in challenging times.

"By the involuntary powers,"

Finding sustenance from uncontrollable forces.

"Nights of insult let you pass"

Hoping that insulting or challenging nights will pass by.

"Watched by every human love."

The beloved is watched over by the love of everyone.

Lullaby poem Themes

Ephemeral Nature of Beauty and Life:

The verses contemplate the fleeting quality of individual beauty and life. Time and fevers are portrayed as agents eroding both the physical and emotional facets of existence.

Permanence and Transcendence of Love:

The speaker articulates a profound, passionate love for the slumbering beloved. Despite acknowledging mortality and guilt, the love is presented as enduring and exquisite, capturing a moment of profound intimacy and connection.

Nature's Influence and the Supernatural:

Natural elements, such as glaciers and rocks, are woven into the poem to evoke a sense of the sublime. References to Venus and supernatural sympathy highlight a cosmic connection between human love and larger forces.

Temporal Signifiers:

Midnight stands as a symbolic threshold, representing a pivotal moment or transition. The poem utilizes the stroke of midnight to emphasize the transient nature of certain aspects of life and love.

Contrasts and Paradoxes:

The verses present contrasts between the mortal and immortal, the ordinary and the supernatural, certainty and uncertainty. These paradoxes contribute depth to the themes and add layers to the poem's complexity.

Romantic Idealism:

The poem embraces a romantic idealism, portraying love and beauty as enduring despite acknowledging challenges and eventual mortality. It accentuates the timeless beauty of the beloved in the present.

Acknowledgment of Mortality:

There is an acceptance of mortality, with the grave symbolizing life's inevitable conclusion. Nevertheless, the speaker finds solace in the immediate, cherishing the beauty and love present in the current moment.

Integration of Carnal and Spiritual Elements:

The hermit's carnal ecstasy suggests a harmonious blending of physical and spiritual experiences. This fusion of the tangible and metaphysical realms adds depth to the exploration of human emotions and connections.

Cycles in Nature:

Natural elements like the winds of dawn symbolize cyclical aspects, representing time and new beginnings. The cyclical nature contributes to the overarching theme of life's continual flow.

Symbolism of Winds and Head:

The winds encircling the dreaming head may symbolize change, dreams, or the passage of time. The head, as the seat of thought and consciousness, introduces a personal and introspective layer to these symbols.


In conclusion, "Lullaby" by W. H. Auden stands as a captivating exploration of love, mortality, and the delicate balance between the ephemeral and the eternal. Through its rhythmic verses and evocative imagery, the poem invites readers to reflect on the transient nature of life and beauty while emphasizing the enduring power of love. Auden's skillful use of language and symbolism creates a timeless work that continues to resonate with audiences, offering a soothing and introspective experience akin to the comforting embrace of a lullaby.


1. Who is the poet of "Lullaby"?

"Lullaby" is written by W. H. Auden, a renowned and influential English-American poet.

2. What are the main themes of "Lullaby"?

The poem explores themes of love, the transience of life and beauty, the integration of the mortal and the eternal, and the cyclical nature of time.

3. What is the tone of "Lullaby"?

The tone of the poem is soothing and reflective, resembling the comforting and calming atmosphere of a lullaby.

4. How does "Lullaby" use symbolism?

The poem employs symbolism through elements like midnight, the winds of dawn, and natural landscapes to convey deeper meanings related to time, love, and the human experience.



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