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Elizabeth Whalen
Mrs. Hope
English LPS
9 November 2015
Sadness
In the poem, Sadness by Confucius, the narrator is comparing the sun and the moon. He
then goes on to compare his own feelings to the sun and to the moon and he explains why he
feels this way. In the poem, the poet cares deeply about his lover who has unfortunately parted
from him. His lover causes the mood to change and Confucius relates his attitude to the sun and
to the moon. At first, he is becoming similar to the moon, fading away; however, in the end of
the poem he describes how there is still some light and happiness left in his heart when he thinks
about the person who he continues to love. Through the use of diction, imagery and syntax,
Confucius reveals the love and care that he feels toward his lover.
The authors use of diction provides a variety of moods within the poem. For example,
Confucius uses the word pale and waneth to describe the moon. This creates a negative
connotation because typically, the word pale is associated with more upsetting and depressing
aspects. It makes the moon seem gloomy. The word wane also displays more of a somber mood
because it means that the moon is becoming smaller in size, therefore it is less important. On the
other hand, when Confucius describes the sun, the words he uses creates a positive connotation.
He says, The sun is ever full and bright (Confucius 1). The words full and bright form an
enthusiastic mood. When Confucius describes the sun as being full, it makes the sun seem
complete and sturdy. When he describes the sun as being bright, it gives off a sense of happiness

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and joy. The authors diction clearly shows how the sun is favorable over the moon. Later on in
the poem, this comparison that Confucius stated between the sun and the moon relates to his own
feelings about his lover. He compares himself to the moon when he describes his depressing
feelings of being apart from his lover. Because he cares for and misses his lover so much, he has
these feelings. Confucius then goes on to say that whenever he thinks about his lover, he is
extremely bright and joyful, like the sun. This also is said to prove yet again how his emotions
can be completely changed because of his love for his lover.
Within the poem, there is both concrete and abstract imagery. In the beginning Confucius
states, The sun is ever full and bright,/The pale moon waneth night by night (Confucius 1-2).
This is an example of concrete imagery because the poet clearly states the characteristics of the
sun, shining and being completely visible. When describing the moon, Confucius is also clear
when he describes it because he describes a white moon getting smaller and smaller every single
night. There is nothing that can be envisioned besides what the author has provided about the
moon and the sun. Confucius also uses abstract imagery when he says, My heart that once was
full of light/Is but a dying moon to-night (Confucius 4-5). Here, the poet is comparing his heart
and his feelings to the moon and to the sun. This can be imagined and envisioned in different
ways. For example, there are different ways that the image of his heart might be interpreted,
there is no specific description of what the poets heart actually looks like. Because of this, this is
an example of abstract imagery. This abstract imagery shows how Confucius emotions are
influenced so much by the loss of his lover because he is showing the drastic difference in his
heart and his emotions when thinking about his lover in different ways, all because he cares
about her.

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Confucius used many different forms of syntax. To start, there are many commas that
slow the poem down. For instance, Confucius says, But when I dream of thee apart, I would the
dawn might lift my heart . . . (Confucius 6-7). The commas at the end of each line force the
reader to take pauses and to read the poem slowly. This conveys more of a somber and
depressing mood because the pace of the poem is slow. The commas show how Confucius is
feeling depressed because of his desire to see his lover again, so the slower pace helps to convey
the authors tone. The author also uses a question mark when he says, The sun is ever full and
bright,/The pale moon waneth night by night./Why should this be? (Confucius 3). This form of
punctuation causes the poet to seem confused about the differences between the sun and the
moon. This questioning also makes it seem as if it is very unfair that the sun is considered to be
so much greater and more positive than the moon. It also questions why he feels like the moon at
times, and the sun at others; however, this question is soon answered. He feels this way because
he yearns so much for his lover and he has such great affection for his lover. Lastly, Confucius
also uses a rhyme scheme throughout the poem. In each stanza, he rhymes the last word of the
first two lines. This creates a rhythm and a beat to the poem. It also allows the poem to flow
much easier because of the similar sound that is created. By having the poem flow smoothly, it
becomes easier to read and to understand.
The authors craft creates many different moods throughout the poem. These moods help
get the main idea of the poem across effectively. This is because the diction, imagery, and syntax
all play huge roles in conveying the feelings in the poem and they determine the tone of the
author. All of these literary devices allow for control over how the poem is read, yet there is still
room for diverse interpretations. The authors craft in this poem is the key to providing the main
idea and the theme.