Lauris Dorothy Edmond’s poem “Waterfall” depicts a speaker whose observation of a waterfall brings back nostalgic memories of youth and love. Below, you’ll find a part of an analysis of the poem.
Includes a breakdown of the stanzas, an insight into the speaker + voice of the poem, and an exploration of the themes and deeper meanings. This is only a quick overview to help you get to grips with the poem; you can access a full in-depth breakdown of the poem on the links below.
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- Delay – putting something off, something taking longer than it should
- Irreversible – unable to be reversed
- Arc – a curved shape
- Glimpse – catch sight of
- Glinting – shining, catching the light
- Bracken – fern plants that have died back and turned brown
- Astringent – sharp, bitter
- Shrewd – judging strictly, but not necessarily unfairly
- Chastened – being restrained or softened, also punished or disciplined
- Nostalgia – looking back at the past with longing and sadness
- Jauntiness – happiness, positive energy
- Sinewed – strengthened (sinews are the tissue that holds muscle together)
- Resolution – determination
- Luminous – bright, glowing
The speaker doesn’t ask to return to youth, or to slow down the passage of time which is like a river flowing, creating a waterfall which arcs as it falls, each droplet in flight is like a minute which catches the light and she is able to see it clearly for brief a moment before it falls. In it she sees everything she has, and everything that she is losing.
She doesn’t dream for her and her partner to be young again, and they get to relive the love they felt in youth – the memory of this is tied up with natural landscape, bracken and moss, and still water that holds their reflection forever as it does not move.
It’s enough for the speaker to enter a room and find her partner looking back at her with kindness, this is what they now call ‘love’, his eyes are ‘shrewd’, judgemental but fair and trustful, and his face has become more disciplined over the years of careful decision making, they sit in mild conversation in the afternoons and talk without longing for the past.
But when her partner leaves her, with his happiness made stronger by determination rather than strength, suddenly she feels an intense, quick love for him. This is because she remembers (as described in the poem’s opening) that bright, luminous moments of joy pass quickly and you only get to experience them once before they drop into the ‘dark pool’ of memory and vanish forever.
The speaker uses the first person singular pronoun ‘I’ to show that she is talking from a personal point of view, and direct address ‘you’ to demonstrate that the poem is intended for a private audience – her partner. The ‘you’, however, comes in the second stanza, so the effect is for the poem to shift in perspective from talking generally about time and memory, to personally about the speaker’s partner and her relationship with him.
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- Story + Summary
- Speaker + Voice
- Language Feature Analysis
- Form and Structure Analysis
- Attitudes + Messages
- Themes + Deeper Ideas
- Key Quotations
- Extra tasks to complete by yourself