I love this poem because it captures life in a raw way, juxtaposing loving optimism and utter realism. The ample use of imagery, metaphor, allusion to classic stories, and personification of time give the speaker both a cautionary and melancholy tone. I particularly enjoy how the speaker plays with speed in the poem beginning slowly with a walk on Bristol, then quickly picking up the tempo with the lines,
“But all the clocks in the city
Began to whirr and chime:"
and the speakers warning,
"‘O let not Time deceive you,
You cannot conquer Time”.
Finally, the tempo returns to its original languid pace as the speaker breaks free of his trance and returns to the peaceful night. The movements between present moment and reverie create the sensation of time travel. With quatrains and an ABCB rhyme scheme, Auden's poem brings readers on a journey through time and forces us to consider the true nature of time and its role in our own recklessly optimistic lives.