As a fond mother, when the day is o’er,
Leads by the hand her little child to bed,
Half willing, half reluctant to be led,
And leave his broken playthings on the floor,
Still gazing at them through the open door,
Nor wholly reassured and comforted
By promises of others in their stead,
Which though more splendid, may not please him more;
So Nature deals with us, and takes away
Our playthings one by one, and by the hand
Leads us to rest so gently, that we go
Scarce knowing if we wish to go or stay,
Being too full of sleep to understand
How far the unknown transcends the what we know.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem Nature


  1. Philomelaa says:

    Why Nature gives us the potentiality to relish the nature?
    I think,here Nature has its own dealings. Anything is not complete without its appreciation or criticism. Nature wishes to praise her beauty. And it will be by means of senses. So He gives us the power. When Nature feels that from the very person He has nothing more to get, He compels him/her in the lap of Death, Universal Truth.
    If anybody has better suggestion plz reply.

  2. Philomelaa says:

    I think and believe the theory of Attachment and Detachment proves here concretely. We we born in the lap of mother, actually we are deserted from “Spiritus Mundy”, the land of our Spirit. So it is detachment and it attaches us with the new world, new relations and new surroundings.Natures attaches us by giving power in our senses(Eye, Ear, Tongue, Nose and Skin). We relishes the Nature. Thereafter with the help of Natural instrument we make a knit bondage i.e. Mundane affairs.
    When we are totally absorbed and engrossed ,Nature again starts the process of Detachment. Nature feels no necessity to ask whether we want to leave this world. Very surreptitiously He snatches everything those are provided to us. Unknowingly we move towards death.

  3. pie Thu says:

    uses and devices of the poem “Nature”.

  4. Nicole says:

    in this poem, the poet see death as the natural phenomena .

  5. indranil says:

    For a better understanding of the poem refer Rabindranath Tagore’s “Shishu” and Shakespeare’s The Seven Ages of Man (As you like it)….

  6. Indranil Bhaumik says:

    please refer to Shakespeare for a better understanding of the old age of man being compared to a child….

  7. julia says:


  8. Leonard Wilson says:

    The two parts of Longfellow’s sonnet compare a child’s being put to bed to an older person’s approaching death. The child is tired and probably will fall asleep quickly, but he doesn’t want to stop playing. Some of his toys are broken and he has been promised new, better ones to replace them, but he isn’t sure that he will like them as much as his old favorites.

    As we age and approach death, nature takes away our “playthings” gradually (line 10); that is, we slowly lose our physical strength, our energy, our vision and hearing, our abilities to do various things well, our sex drive, etc. We become tired and long for rest, but at the same time, we want to cling to life and its pleasures. The Christian religion has promised us a glorious existence after this life, far better than we can even imagine, but our faith isn’t quite strong enough to embrace and look forward eagerly to crossing into that paradise.

    Nature (God’s tool) helps to smooth the way. lulling us gently toward that blessed future by dulling our faculties and preparing us for our final sleep. Longfellow obviously believes, as the Christian faith proclaims, that the unknown existence awaiting us far transcends (exceeds) the flawed life here on earth, even though we cannot grasp the immensity of the glory that awaits our transition.

  9. leah says:

    i disagree on what the “playthings” symbolize.
    i think it has more to do with the unknowable future. will the child enjoy the new plaything? it is unknowable to him. as for the other plaything analogy, it is more the taking away of abilities one was once able to do and as one ages, one begins to lose these things. although they are not as able as they used to be, it is easier to cling on to known “broken” things then to submit to unknowable, perhaps wonderful things (i.e. heaven, the afterlife) but it is inevitable so one may not be able to completely accept it, but one must come at least partially to terms with uncertain death

  10. Xiuxiu says:

    This is an Italian sonnet, which can be divided into two sections, lines 1-8; 9-14, Each focusing on one idea, the first idea with pity, the second with hope.

  11. Chris says:

    It was awsome!!.

  12. Teddy says:

    Let me just say I’ve never heard of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow before I read this poem so I’m not all too familiar with his work or style of poetry. But i loved it so much that i had to share my thoughts. But it’s entirely possible that my interpretation is “wrong” yet at the same time I think that the theme revolving around this poem is universal.

    This poem is based on the theme of death. inferring from the context or the words that are given, it’s clear that the auther must be trying to convey a message and must be comparing something to what’s shown (obviously) After the first few lines we see that the writer is teeling of a child who doesn’t want to stop playing with his toys and go to bed even though he knows he must.
    Now what I believe the deeper meaning behind the poem is that it’s largely based on either death OR the passing of time, (albeit granted the two are related.. so nvm scratch that.. its based on death. Evidence for my interpretation: “half willing, half reluctant to be led and leave his broken playthings on the floor” Now I believe the broken playthings symbolize past experiences and/or things that one might regret before an imminent death. Additionally, the lines “Nature deals with us and takes away Our playthings one by one” again emphasizes the symbolism behind death by saying Nature (death is natural) takes away our past experiences (which again is being compared to playthings)
    The last line “How far the unknown transcends the what we know” is only conveying the fact that before we die we have no idea what our “life” will be like or how it will change. But once we die we will understand what the afterlife is truly like.
    Moreover, this last line reveals to some extent the reason why Hendry W. Longfellow chose to specifically compare a child relucant to go to sleep (or rather, sleep in itself) to death because this poet must have a strong belief in that we dont all just expire, disintegrate and rot after we die and that’s it. that there is indeed a life after death.

    anyways, that’s my literary analysis

    Peace amigos

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