The mood of a poem is synonymous with its atmosphere. This atmosphere evokes a particular kind of feeling or emotion in the reader or the audience, if the poem is performed or read out loud. The theme is the overall meaning of the poem. Because theme is a contributing factor to the mood and mood is a contributing factor to the theme, the elements reinforce each other.
Theme is the meaning or the central idea of the poem. It is rarely explicitly relayed in the poem, but it is something that can be inferred. In particular, it comes from interpreting a variety of elements that make up the poem such as setting, characterization, diction, voice, meter and rhyme. The theme of the poem tells the reader what the poem is really about. As a result, identifying the mood can be an important factor in identifying the poem’s theme.
Relationship between Mood and Theme
A poem has the ability to evoke emotions and these emotions create a certain mood. The mood comes from the combination of different elements such as setting, tone, voice and theme. The setting situates the poem in a particular time and place. Tone conveys the writer’s attitude toward the subject of the poem. This attitude may come from the writer or the narrator, in which case it is also the voice of the poem. Finally, theme is the overall meaning of the poem.
Mood Reinforces Theme
The theme encapsulates the central idea or the main focus of the poem. In other words, everything in the poem somehow relates to the theme. In this case, the mood is just another element of the poem that relates or reinforces the central idea or the theme of the poem. For example, many of Edgar Allen Poems have dark, depressed, dramatic and, occasionally, horrific moods that evoke feelings of fear and isolation in the reader. If the theme of the poem is the idea of an almost hopeless love that results in madness, then the mood or the atmosphere of dark solitude and depression help reinforce the theme.
Interpreting Mood and Theme
In order to identify the mood and theme of a poem, the reader must first interpret the poem. Mood comes from the combination of setting, voice, tone and theme while theme may come from the combination of voice, characterization, diction, meter, setting and rhyme. None of these elements are set in in stone, and their importance varies with each poem. Furthermore, these elements are also affected by various other aspects of the poem such as its use of metaphors and similes, its structure, diction, length and even punctuation.