Give a description of the valley as found in Rimbaud’s poem ‘Asleep in the Valley’.

The poet draws a picture of a serene and tranquil landscape where a ‘slow stream’ flows, leaving behind a silver trail on the grass. The glittering rays of the sun falling on the mountain top stream look idyllic. The sun-soaked earth of the valley enlivened by the flowers and the humming insects cast a soothing effect on the reader’s mind. The valley becomes the epitome of Nature who affectionately shelters and protects the sleeping soldier against cold. The quietude of nature seemingly allows the soldier to rest in peace, away from the noise of the city. However, the closing lines of the poem with the mention of the bullet wounds strip the positive aura of the valley, replacing it with anxiety and horror. Thus the picturesque valley turns into the soldier’s deathbed.

The word “sun’ is repeatedly used in the poem-explain the significance of it.

The word ‘sun’ is repeatedly used in this poem. Firstly, it is used to describe the valley which is full of light with the ‘sun’s rays’. Secondly, another image of the sun comes with the expression ‘sun-soaked bed’. Finally, the poet says that the soldier sleeps in ‘sunlight’. All these recurrent images of sun serve as a beautiful ‘image-cluster’. But these images have some other symbolic connotations too. The sun is the source of life. It is the sun who helped to sprout life on the lifeless earth after its creation. It has the power to nourish life. The soldier is lying dead under the sun, but the sun fails to renew life in his body. The poet perhaps feels disappointed at the ‘fatuous toil of the ‘Sunbeam’ which in spite of being the greatest source of life cannot revive the dead soldier. Thus, the sun is portrayed as the natural element who fills the valley with its warmth, guards the dead body of the soldier, but is a failure in terms of stirring life in him again.

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