The tone of a poem is the style, or manner or expression, of its writing. Though tone may be conveyed and expressed in a variety of ways, it is generally either through the attitude of the narrator or writer, subject matter, characters or events. The tone comes through from the poem’s syntax and vocabulary and helps evoke the mood or establish the atmosphere of the poem.
The mood refers to the atmosphere that is prevalent in the poem. Different elements of a poem such as its setting, tone, voice and theme help establish this atmosphere. As a result, the mood evokes certain feelings and emotions in the reader. A poem generally has one overall mood, but the types of mood that poetry may exhibit vary greatly. Some poems have atmospheres of peace and chaos, while others evoke feelings of doom, fear, jealousy, love and pride.
Relationship Between Tone and Mood
The writer of a poem creates tone using particular syntax, setting and structure, and the mood is the feeling that the tone evokes in the reader. Though tone and mood are closely related, the tone tends to be associated with the poem’s voice. The narrator of the poem creates the voice of the poem, and voice is associated with the writer’s attitude toward the poem. In other words, the tone relays something about the writer’s attitude toward the subject of the poem. This attitude, in turn, creates some sort of atmosphere or mood, which then evokes a certain emotion or frame of mind in the reader.
Describing Tone and Mood
The tone of a poem may be described using a variety of words such as serious, playful, humorous, formal, informal, angry, satirical, ironical or sad, or any other kind of appropriate adjective. The mood of the poem may be described as idealistic, romantic, realistic, optimistic, gloomy, imaginary or mournful.