In the poem ‘If You Should Go’, Countee Cullen emphasizes on the understanding of human joys and sorrows. The importance of joy is shown using different examples of joy such as love and dream. Both stanzas include a persons feeling or reactions towards joy during the happy moments as well as the feelings after the joyous moment is over.
In this poem, Cullen conveys several different messages. One of the themes of the poem is that one never realizes what one have until it is lost. In this case it refers to joyous moments. The second stanza the poet also tells the reader that joy makes a long lasting memory in ones mind which is seen in the person’s personality or “the gleam on the face” 2. 7-8. Although, Cullen does not mention whom the love is towards in the first stanza and what the dream is about in the second stanza the reader can interpret that as is said in a positive manner.
Using a classic example of metaphor, love is compared to the light that brightens a day just the way in which joys brightens people’s lives. The gently passing of the day without author realizing its going indicates to us that the joy is not given much importance in the person’s life. The theme, a person never realizes what he has until it is lost, can clearly seen when the poet says, “We would not know, but for the night, When has slipped away” 1. 3-4. The poet convey the message that people usually would not feel the joy until the joy is slipped away and the person is struck by the darkness of the sorrow.
In the second stanza joy is given a much more positive response. Joy in this stanza is referred to as a pleasant dream. The not realization of the passing of the joys is said in this stanza. Here the poet says the joy does not leave a physical effect on the person and that the dream has just left a gleam across the dreamers face. This shows the second theme of the poem that joy makes a long lasting memory in ones mind when referred to the gleam on the dreamers face.
This poem makes the reader realize the importance of joy before it is gone. The poem also mentally prepares the reader to the sorrows that are struck after the joyful moments are over. The tone of the poem is positive. The kind of mood this poem creates is neither depressing nor very exciting. This poem might strike a reader as very passive due to the use of phrases like “The gently passing day” 1. 2 or “Go quietly; a dream” 2. 5. The rhyme scheme of the poem is a b a b.
The poem ‘If You Should Go’ is an excellently lyriced poem about an understanding of human joys and sorrows. The positive point of view of the poet is a plus along with the good use of imagery like love and dream. Overall, the theme, the rhyme scheme, the pleasant imagery, the tone, and the mood all work together in the poem.