What a Wonderful World: ANALYSIS

RHYME SCHEME – The last words in the first two lines of each verse rhyme: it is a simple rhyming pattern that adds a cheerful tone to the song and makes it easier to remember

REPETITION – The phrase “And I think to myself what a wonderful world.” is repeated at the end of every verse (except one) to keep the song lighthearted and emphasize its message: the fact that even though there is much hatred and violence within the world, it is still beautiful. The title repeated throughout the song helps people remember it a lot easier.

IMAGERY – The imagery used to describe nature and friends.  creates a vivid image of happiness and joy.

MESSAGE – The timeless message states that the wonders of nature and friendship are important. Even when everything seems lost and despairing, there is always hope for the future. The song was written during a time of terrible turmoil, and the singer himself, being a black American, had faced prejudice and bitterness.

Armstrong (nicknamed Satchmo or Pops) loved this song and performed it everywhere.  At one performance, he introduced it with this explanation:

“Some of you young folks been saying to me: ‘Hey, Pops – what do you mean, what a wonderful world? How about all them wars all over the place, you call them wonderful?’ …But how about listening to old Pops for a minute?  Seems to me it ain’t the world that’s so bad but what we’re doing to it, and all I’m saying is: see what a wonderful world it would be if only we’d give it a chance.  Love, baby, love.  That’s the secret…”

 

ANALYSIS:

“I See Trees of Green, Red Roses too”

The first line tells us that there is always a chance for improvement and growth. It immediately shows that the song will be focusing on the happier side of life instead of its pain and turmoil.

 

 “The Bright Blessed Day, the Dark Sacred Night

The choice of these words is careful:  blessed and sacred add holiness to this world that becomes  a safe surrounding, where people are  comforted and  looked after.

 

The Colours of the Rainbow, so Pretty in the Sky”

A rainbow shows that the storm is over and that  clearer, easier times are ahead. It is a sign of hope.  In religious views, the rainbow is the promise from God to his people that he will never drown them all again

 

“I see friends shakin’ hands, sayin’ “How do you do?”/They’re really saying “I love you

When people meet and greet each other with happy hearts, they may mean they love each other. The world really underlines the fact that what the singer sees should not be only a dream.

 

I hear babies cryin’, I watch them grow They’ll learn much more, than I’ll ever know”.

Babies are symbols for the next generation, for hope. Over time, more knowledge is acquired and passed down to younger generations and by the time children reach Satchmo‘s  age, they will have had the opportunity to learn much  more than us Armstrong himself stated in the late 1960s that he recalled “three generations” of children he watched growing up in his own Corona/Queens, NY neighbourhood, part of his own “life reservoir” that he brought to the song.  In addition, as a black man, he had suffered over decades during segregation and the civil rights struggle

The final tense is changed into future to underline these high hopes for the next generation.

I see trees of green, red roses too
I see them bloom for me and you
And I think to myself, what a wonderful world

I see skies of blue and clouds of white
The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night
And I think to myself, what a wonderful world

The colours of the rainbow, so pretty in the sky
Are also on the faces of people going by
I see friends shakin’ hands, sayin’ “How do you do?”
They’re really saying “I love you”

I hear babies cryin’, I watch them grow
They’ll learn much more than I’ll ever know
And I think to myself, what a wonderful world
Yes, I think to myself, what a wonderful world
Oh yeah

 

 

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