The Day Is Done

The Day Is Done Symbols, Allegory and Motifs

Arab Tents (symbol)

The Arab tents symbolize the nomadic life—the life that people like Longfellow did not want in the 19th century. The home was a refuge, a steadying and comforting place where one might escape from the cares of the world; not one that was flimsy and transitory. Their presence at the end of the poem emphasizes the speaker’s desire to be in a cozy, private home with his beloved.

The Feather (symbol)

The feather, which wafts slowly down the way darkness steals across the land, symbolizes death and decay; it falls off the living eagle and falls slowly to the ground, no longer part of the animal. All of his feathers will soon moulder just as our bodies will as well. Its presence in the poem serves to contrast the melancholy of the speaker’s thoughts with the eventual peace he achieves.

Weather (motif)

Certain types of weather, such as rain and mist, are affiliated with cares and sorrows while others, such as summer showers and sunshine, are associated with peace and happiness. The speaker rides through inclement weather and his thoughts tend to the melancholy. He calls for light and simple poems to be read and evokes nature imagery that is no longer dreary or oppressive.