The poem contains several different points of poetic conventions. Images such as "dying flowers" (line 26) and "hardened earth" (line 22) contribute to the overall weary and dreary aspect of this emotionally depressing poem. The use of woeful imagery can also be said about the choice of the color blue (line 28) to represent grief.

There are a few metaphors that emphasize the devastation felt by the speaker of the poem:

"than at the grave
where his five years
are carved in stone." (lines 19-21)

These lines indicate, in poetic fashion, the untimely death of a child at an early age of five years old. Another excellent metaphor is as follows:
"for we know grief

is blue, like the river,
which takes our flowers when they are fresh" (lines 27-30)

Each metaphor indicates the deep-rooted grief that the speaker attempts to convey and share with the reader. This, in turn, increases the level of emotional attachment the reader may share with the speaker.

There are also some symbols throughout the poem that are used to better portray the untimely nature of death. A good example of this is the flower petals. The flower is representative of the child, killed at such an early age. The flower petals are being taken downstream from the speaker, much like the child was taken by the river. The river is another good example of symbolism; one cannot deter the flow of rivers. One can only let the river take you where it needs to go. Concurrently, the river can be viewed as life. However, in the poem's case, the river is representative of death for the speaker and towards the child. Therefore, this presents a paradox from which the color of grief, blue, is born.