Poetry Analysis: When We Two Parted by Lord Bryon (1788–1824)

Poetry Analysis: When We Two Parted by Lord Bryon (1788–1824)

Poem

When we two parted
In silence and tears,
Half broken-hearted
To sever for years,
Pale grew thy cheek and cold,
Colder thy kiss;
Truly that hour foretold
Sorrow to this.

The dew of the morning
Sunk chill on my brow –
It felt like the warning
Of what I feel now.
Thy vows are all broken,
And light is thy fame;
I hear thy name spoken,
And share in its shame.

They name thee before me,
A knell in mine ear;
A shudder comes o’er me –
Why wert thou so dear?
They know not I knew thee,
Who knew thee too well –
Long, long shall I rue thee,
Too deeply to tell.

In secret we met –
In silence I grieve,
That thy heart could forget,
Thy spirit deceive.
If I should meet thee
After long years,
How should I greet thee? –
With silence and tears.

Analysis

When We Two Parted is a poem exploring heartbreak. Whilst this emotion is usually disorientating, this poem precludes the structure. Instead, it is written in four stanza’s with eight lines each, perhaps to reflect the duration of the relationship as Byron writes ‘after long years’. This line could also be representative of the long years it takes for the writer to overcome his ‘broken-hearted’(ness)

Continue reading “Poetry Analysis: When We Two Parted by Lord Bryon (1788–1824)”

An Analysis of Maps by Doug Hoekstra

An Analysis of Maps by Doug Hoekstra

Carrying maps we move
through battlegrounds and trails,
roadways, displays and
museums built of alabaster
on swamps in cities marked with
European names

Following blue lines, red circles
street signs and highway markers
compass points and scale
measuring distance between places
and distant constellations
that will one day disappear

Slipping into another form
catching glimpses of the future
cherished and held in
our collective past, pressed
between magnetic pages
reframed and then…reclaimed

Pulling on my sleeve, he’s
always looking up, always,
even when I lose my way
in all cardinal directions
and happen upon a clearing
beyond my imagination

Where lightning grows quiet and
waterfalls rise and
colors disguise and
the reversal of time
senseless with meaning
–– perfectly cast together

Analysis

Stanza One

Maps is a poetry in which I believe is a metaphor for a journey which is the purpose of a map- to help navigate people from their current location to their destination. Initially it takes us through battlegrounds and trails which is a juxtaposition. This juxtaposition is contrasted to be active and passive. Then, the adventure softens up through the third line of ‘roadways, displays and museums built of alabaster’ This soft imagery of beauty is stark in the sense that the write lets us know that it is built on swamps. This is a poignant metaphor with historical connotations. Since the battleground signifies war, and alabaster signifies the archaic and we know that these cities have ‘European Names’. We can then infer that this journey is a walk through history.

Stanza Two

The next stanza is a walk in the present. We can infer this through the use of the neutral and simple descriptions. The red and blue lines are centred around public transport maps such as train stations and subways. In the fourth, fifth and sixth line of the poem, we know that this person yearns for something more. The line ‘measuring distance between places and distant constellations that will one day disappear’. It highlights that this person is a day dreamer comparing his gaze to something that is far away.

Stanza Three

The third stanza embodies the message of the poem. The ‘slipping into another form’ phrase highlights the variety of maps . The phrase catching glimpses into the future suggests that maps are for places we haven’t been yet. Hence the catching glimpses of the future. It is evident that we are unaware of it. This is then contrasted with the past places we have been and treasured so that we’ve pressed the magnetic pages, reframed and reclaimed it.

Stanza Four and Five

The penulitmate and final stanza gets personal. We get a sense of youth or someone young. This is infered through the line which states that the person is short enouhgh to pull on the subject sleeve and is always looking up. More importantly, it seems to be something similar to a promise. It states that the should the subject ever lose way and reach a place (clearing) beyond imagination.

In essence, the journey will fit perfectly together in a place where lightening grows quiet, waterfalls rise and colors disguise and there is a reversal of time. This can be looked at in two ways:

a) Positively: Through an idyllic nature-centred lens
b) Negatively: The journey becomes a place where what is hoped and imagined is contradictory.

So this begs the question of whether the map is a journey of the past, present and future?

What do you think the map signifies?

Thank you for reading!

An Analysis of ‘On the Black Canal’ by Helen Tookey

An Analysis of ‘On the Black Canal’ by Helen Tookey

Your boat is moored on the black canal
and the woman is playing the cello for you,

long low notes the colour of crows’ wings.
You are a sound-box, air vibrates inside your bones

as each note elongates, a dark expanse –
are you under her protection, or is it a baffle

she draws around you, words becoming lost
in the rasp of bow against wire, your skull

full of overtones. Where were you trying to go that day
as you crossed the fields when the planes came,

droning low, forcing you down with the weight
of the sound in your head – you lay it seemed

for hours, pressed to the earth, unable to move
till the sound cleared, the weight eased

from your bones and you ran, away from
the terror of air, the fields’ aphasic spaces.

Where were you going? You can’t remember, and now
you’re moored in the long box of your boat, and the woman

is playing the cello for you, the sound closing
over your head like black water, like crows’ wings.

Poets, Various. The Forward Book of Poetry 2019 (Kindle Locations 1714-1729). Forward Arts Foundation. Kindle Edition.

Analysis

On the Black Canal can be interpreted to be about a myriad of different things. To me, I believe it is a piece that represents death but on the first glance, I thought it was about depression and the negative feelings of sorrow.

In the introduction which states ‘Your boat is moored on the black canal’ acts as a metaphor for a coffin that is anchored like a boat in the canal. The word moored emphasises the boat imagery but to reinforce the funeral ambience we are introduced to a woman playing the cello for the deceased.

How do we know that the person in this piece is deceased?

Continue reading “An Analysis of ‘On the Black Canal’ by Helen Tookey”

An Analysis of Bitter Waters Translated By Shash Trevett

An Analysis of Bitter Waters Translated By Shash Trevett
Bitter Waters (Translated by Shash Trevett)

See these lines on my upturned palm.

They are the rivers of tears
that have washed my face.

They are the rivers of blood
that have washed my land.

Flowing first in trickles, then streams
and then in torrents:

they are the swells of voices
that have cried out our shame.

They are the swell of voices
that have cried out our shame.

They lie etched on my skin,
coursing through the creases and ridges

to pool into stories and tales.

I shall tell if these
for the generations to come.

See these hands all twisted and bent. 

These are the scars I bear 
instead of children.

O Motherland, look not to me
 for your warrior.

Bitter Waters exudes the themes of conflicts, bloodshed and some form of political instability.

Form
This poem is written as a free-verse to reflect the overflow of emotions almost like water. There are no rhymes which reflects the intensity and seriousness of the poem. The free-verse can also be reflections of chaos where the events or conflict reigns without amendments of order or justice.

Imagery
The line ‘see the lines in my upturned palm’ almost embodies the meander of a river which is very easy to imagine should you look at your palm. The line ‘ They are rivers of tears’ that have washed my face’ consolidates the imagery of water. This is further intensified by ‘They are rivers of blood that have washed my land’  The imagery of water continues with the phrases ‘tickle’, ‘speech’ and then ‘torrents’ to illustrate the build of chaos and the intensity of the issue. Then we are left with the final water imagery where voices pools into stories and tales.

Final Thoughts
The final line ‘O Motherland, look not to me for your warrior’. I like this line because its powerful. I say powerful because the writers tells the motherland not to expect fighting, strength, ardour or even patriotism.

An Analysis of ‘The Silver Swan’ by Anon

An Analysis of ‘The Silver Swan’ by Anon
The silver swan, who living had no note,
When death approached unlocked her silent throat,
Leaning her breast against the reedy shore,
Thus sung her first and last, and sung no more:
Farewell all joys, O death come close mine eyes,
More geese than swans now live, more fools than wise.
                                                                                                                   Anon

‘The Silver Swan’ is almost a metaphorical poem which explores the themes of beauty, elegance, death, pride, fear and arrogance. In fact, we can substitute each of these themes as the subject of the poem and it would still be applicable and relevant. These are some of the key lessons I got from the poem:

  • Elegance, beauty or attractiveness doesn’t alway equal intelligence.
  • Death shouldn’t be the point of regret or courage or even bravery. It should be done in life.
  • Pride and arrogance can be rooted in no substance or talent. Almost an aesthetic rather than functionality.

Poetic Techniques

Oxymoron: In the first line, we have the word ‘living’ which is contrasted with death in the second line.

Contrast: In line four, we have the words ‘first and last’ in the same line which even extends further to ‘no more’. This illustrates the stages,  phases or rites of passage that the swan embarked on. Likewise, the strong comparison between geese and swans complements the line fools than wise.

My Reflection On The Piece

There are various lines which prompts questions and deep thought. For instance the line:

When death approached unlocked her silent throat

This emphasises a lesson (if you will) that on the verge of death shouldn’t be when you say/do the things that you have always wanted to do.

Another line which raises questions is:

Thus sung her first and last, and sung no more:

This begs the questions of why didn’t she sing before? Was it pride? Did she think she was too elegant to sing? I believe it could be a combination of different things such as fear, realisation or even a form of epiphany.

Please comment below on what you think the swan is a metaphor for?

Thank you for reading!

 

 

Sunday Stanza: Poem Thirty Two- The Glass House By Hannah Williams

Sunday Stanza: Poem Thirty Two- The Glass House By Hannah Williams

Look at my glass house but don’t throw stones
For sticks and stones may break my home.
This fragile abode with a transparent gaze,
Often leaves people amazed.
So you see my in’s and out.
A glass house is like a vase.
Prized.
Fragile.
Ornamented.
Look deeper and you’ll see my fears.
For I was a fool to build my years on a house so easy to break.
This is my mistake.

 

An Analysis of ‘Harlem Hopscotch’ by Dr Maya Angelou

An Analysis of ‘Harlem Hopscotch’ by Dr Maya Angelou
One foot down, then hop! It’s hot.
Good things for the ones that’s got.
Another jump, now to the left.
Everybody for hisself.
In the air, now both feet down.
Since you black, don’t stick around.
Food is gone, the rent is due.
Curse and cry and then jump two.
All the people out of work.
Hold for three, then twist and jerk.
Cross the line, they count you out.
That’s what hopping’s all about.
Both feet flat, the game is done.
They think I lost. I think I won.

Harlem Hopscotch is a powerful political piece of poetry which explores issues of poverty and struggle in the disadvantaged area of Harlem.

Title
The title Harlem Hopscotch suggests a distinct game exclusive to the province of Harlem. However, once we read the entire poem, we get an understanding that this poem is applicable to any disadvantaged area. In this piece, Harlem is a symbolic place used as an example of poverty.

Theme

Mentality: This poem highlights the mentality of people in disadvantaged areas in the first stanza. This is the mentality that everyone is for themselves as indicated in the line’ Everybody for hisself’. It also highlights the awareness of the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’. This is the neutral viewpoint of ‘Good things for the ones that’s got’. This is an almost good for them attitude which translates to now I have to concentrate on myself.

Absence: In the second stanza we understand that in such an environment there is absence or lack. This is centred on resources like food and money.

Struggle: It helps highlight issues within disadvantages communities namely people ‘counting you out’ meaning not realising your worth and potential. The writer makes a light gesture that ‘that is what hopping is about’. Could this refer to the grind and hustle despite the hardship?

Poetic Devices
Rhyme: The use of rhyme helps make the deep and poignant message much digestible for the reader.

Conclusion
Overall, this piece is very insightful and I commend the writer ability to discuss an important issue in a light and playful manner.

 

 

An Analysis of ‘Beatitude’ By Nick Makoha

An Analysis of ‘Beatitude’ By Nick Makoha
Beatitude By Nick Makoha (2017)
When a rebel leader promises you the world seen in commercials,
he will hold a shotgun to the radio announcer’s mouth,
and use a quilt of bristling static to muffle the tears.
When the bodies disappear, discarded like husks of mangos,
he will weep with you in the hours of reckoning and judgement,
into the hollow night when the crowd disperse.
When by paraffin light his whiskey breath tells you
your mother’s wailings in your father’s bed are a song
for our nation, as he sits with you on the veranda to witness a sunrise.
say nothing. Slaughter your herd. Feed the soldiers
who looted your mills and factories. Let them dance
in your garden while an old man watches.
Then when they sleep and you blood turns to kerosene,
find your mother gathering water at the well to stave off
the burning. Shave her head with a razor from the kiosk.
When the fury has gathered, take her hand and run
past the fields’ odour of blood and bones. Past the checkpoint,
past the swamp towards smokey disc flaring on the horizon.
Run till your knuckles become as white as handkerchiefs.
Run into the night’s florescent silence. Run till your lungs
becomes a furnace of flames. Run pas the border.
Run till you no longer see yourself in other men’s eyes.
Run past sleep. past darkness visible.
Stop when you find a country where they do not know your name.

This piece of poetry is very thought-provoking and insightful into the impact of rebel rulership in Uganda. However these parallels can be applied to any militia’s rule. The first stanza sets the tone and mood of the poem- a world in censorship and fear. This is illustrated through the  ‘shotgun held to the radio announcer’s mouth and ‘bristling static to muffle the tears.’

Furthermore, the use of propaganda in this regime is very apparent. The rebel leader’ promises a world seen in commercials. The use of the word commercial merely suggests advertising and a sense of selling dreams. Furthermore, the word commercial is an American word. This suggests a world which is distant and contradictory to their reality. Nonetheless, this world is promised with a censorship of the truth.

Structure
This poem is written in seven stanza’s with three lines each. This structure helps illustrate the directness of the piece and how concise and succinct the writer’s thought are.

Themes

Death: The deaths are described as disappearing bodies and lives are discarded ‘like husks of mangoes’. It is not only death of people but also death of livelihoods which is expressed through the lines ‘Slaughter your herd‘ which is an instruction for when all hope is lost. We are constantly reminded of death throughout the poem for instance in the line ‘run past the fields’ odour of blood and bones’.

Oppression: The oppression of women is the song for the nation. This is highlighted through the line ‘your mother’s wailing’s in your father’s bed are a song for our nation’. The writer encourages that within this oppression, you remain silent and ‘say nothing’, Instead, you should appease the oppressors by ensuring that you ‘feed the soldiers
who looted your mills and factories. Let them dance in your garden while an old man watches’. Amidst, all the oppression, the thing you can do is allow it and watch on.

Poetic Devices

Repetition and Active Tenses: The poem begins with ‘When’ to help set the mood and paints a vivid picture of the regime. Once the imagery has been solidified, Makoha switches to ‘Run’ as the answers to these terrible ordeals. It switches from the inactive ‘when’ to the active ‘run’. This helps illustrates the urgency of the environment as a do or die moment. Lastly, the ‘run’ comes with an instruction of when to cease- you stop running when you reach a country where no one know your name.

Thank you for reading.

 

An Analysis of ‘Death Ain’t Nothing But A Song’ By Donte Collins

An Analysis of ‘Death Ain’t Nothing But A Song’ By Donte Collins
my mother moved out
of her body   decided it
was no longer worthy
it couldn’t contain her laughter
she couldn’t obey the house
rules of human   her spirit
that young & fresh fever    wanted
to call the night her dance club
wanted to try new clothes
stay out later
my mother now wears the world
dresses herself  with the tall grass
blushes her cheeks with red clay
she laughs & a forest fire awakens
she laughts & every mountain bows
to her sharp thunder    she laughs
&each cicada begins to sing  last
night Saint Paul was cloaked in steam
fog travelled from some distant heat.
no, i think   you’ve got it all wrong
someone must have asked my mother
to dance

This piece titled ‘Death Ain’t Nothing But A Song’ is written by Donte Collins. In this blog post, I will be analysing the title,  form and structure of this poem, poetic devices used and my understanding of the poem.

Title

The title ‘Death Ain’t Nothing But A Song’ is understood at the end of the poem where Collins write ‘someone must have asked my mother to dance’. This explains the title because the song in which she was dancing to was death hence the title. However the person or Being who asked her mother to dance is unidentified in this poem leaving the inference that it could be natural or even supernatural.

Form and Structure

This poem is written as a free verse to express the personality of the writer’s mother which is a free spirit. The form and structure could also be a reflection that the writer’s mother is free and liberated through death.

Poetic Devices

No Punctuation: The lack of punctuation in this piece illustrates the freedom and liberation as there is no stopping or pauses. The only punctuation which is evident is the use of and( &),. This shows that there is more to add rather than stop. This therefore aids us to understand that the writers mothers vibrancy will go on.

Space

Within the poem, there is space in each stanza. This space is there to perhaps reflect the overwhelming topic of death and the emotions the writer feels. Therefore , needing space to breathe and continue.

Imagery

The imagery the writer uses are very powerful yet sad.  For instance the stanza which states that ‘my mother now wears the world dresses herself  with the tall grass blushes her cheeks with red clay’. At first, it is easy to imagine this imagery as a memory of the mother dressing up and putting on makeup. However the underlying tone is death meaning that she is back with nature and slowly degrading into debris.

My Understanding Of The Poem

The theme of this poem is death. The ways in which the writer describes his mother’s death is descriptive. It begins with ‘moving out of her body’ then escalates to ‘wears the world’. The writer’s ability to describe something so solemn in a simple yet descriptive manner is high commendable. Overall, this poem is a bitter sweet poem which celebrates both life and death.

Thank you for reading.

An Analysis of ‘One Continent to Another’By Grace Nichols

An Analysis of ‘One Continent to Another’By Grace Nichols
Like the yesterday of creation morning
she had imagined this new world to be
bereft of fecundity
No she wasn’t prepared
for the sea that lashed
fire that seared
solid earth that delivered
her up
birds that flew
not wanting to see the utter
rawness of life everywhere
and the men who seed the children
she wasn’t prepared for that look
in their eye-
that loss of deep man pride
Now she stoops
in green canefields
piecing the life she would lead

This piece analyses the poem ‘One Continent to Another’ written by Grace Nichols. Here is my analysis on the piece.

Structure

This poem is written as free verse perhaps to reflect the myriad of thoughts going through this woman’s head. In particular, a woman who want to migrate. The fluidity in the structure reflects the woman’s concerns. It is evident that the woman’s concerns are apparent and the structure of the poem reflects her concerns well.

Poetry Analysis

The poem begins with the opening which is ‘ Like yesterday of creation morning…’ and I found myself asking what does this mean? Then, I looked deeper and realised that the change the woman sought was long overdue. The woman in the poem yearns for a new start however she is constrainted  by her present condition. Even in her imagination, there are limitations as she ‘imagined this new world to be bereft of fecundity’. In simple English, she is sceptical of the abundance and opportunities available in this new place she wishes to migrate.

In my perceptions, I view this woman as a refugee who doesn’t fully understand the dangers and implications of moving from one continent to another. In the second part of the poem, it is implied that she is not ‘prepared for sea that lashed, fire that seared, solid earth that delivered her up’. The reader now understands the implications of the woman’s migration and the hardship she will encounter in doing so.

In the third part of the poem, the reader is introduced to disappointment the woman faces. The disappointment that in this situation, men cannot do anything to make the situation better but rather despair in the ‘loss of deep man’s pride’.

In the final part of the poem, we return to the present where we see the woman’s current situation. The mention of green canefield implies she is a slave to her condition and is trying to make sense of her situation.

 

Thank you for reading.

An Analysis Of ‘What The Dead Know By Heart’ By Donte Collins

An Analysis Of ‘What The Dead Know By Heart’ By Donte Collins
What The Dead Know By Donte Collins (2017)
lately, when asked how are you, i
respond with a name no longer living
Rekia, Jamal, Sandra, Philando
i am alive by luck at this point, i wonder
often: if the gun will unmake me
is yet made, what white birth
will bury me, how many bullets, like a
flock of blue jays, will come carry my black
to its final bed, which photo will be used
to water down my blood, today i did
not die & there is no god or law to
thank, the bullet missed  my head
& landed in another. today, i passed
a mirror & did not see a body, instead
a suggestion, a debate, a blank
post-it note there looking back. i
haven’t enough room to both rage and
weep. i go to cry & each tear turns
to steam. I say
I matter& a ghost
white hand appears
over my mouth.

This piece analyses the contemporary poem ‘What The Dead Know By Heart’ which was written by Donte Collins. It deals with the issues of the brutal policing of black people from the writers perspective. This piece is very thought-provoking, surreal and send shivers down my spine at the same time. Below is the analysis of the poem.

Structure
This piece is written as a free verse. The free verse structure helps illustrate the writer’s freedom to think and to express his feelings on a topic so connected to him. However, this freedom is contradictory to the topic of the poem because it is not about his freedom in America but rather the lack of. This structure is so important in this poem because it is the one of the few places where we can hear a black man express his opinion without censorship, without restrictions and without the overpowering opinion of white supremacists.

Tone
The tone of this poem is very despondent, bleak and heavy and rightly so, since the poem deals with a bleak, despondent and heavy topic. It begins with a light question which is centred on ‘how are you’ in which he responds as dead through mentioning the names of ‘Rekia, Jamal, Sandra, Philando’ in whom we know their stories and how they suffered from police brutality. Even when positive imagery is used through the sentence ‘flock of blue jays’, it is being used to describe how bullets fly and how it will carry his ‘black’ to his final bed. The use of colour becomes redundant because it is reduced to black which typically signified death.

Poetic Devices

Punctuation: This poem does not use capital letters and focuses on small letters. Perhaps to illustrate how this issue is bigger than him. It may also illustrate the abudance of his emotion and how overwhelmed he is. The lack of punctuation highlights how the issue is bigger than punctuation and defies the traditional sense of poetry but rather wants us to look into the message deeper.

Enjambment: There are several line breaks in this poem. This could be done to illustrate how broken the poet feels living in such a society which devalues him and others like him.

Theme
This poem deals with how black people are ill treated in America. He highlights the harsh reality that the killing of black people is reduced to ‘a suggestion, a debate. a blank’ but more shockingly the writer wonders if he is murdered by a gun, what picture will be used to ‘water down’ his blood. This highlights the issue of media using images of the murdered to try and make them less human.

Thank you for reading!

 

 

An Analysis of ‘What Were They Like?’ By Denise Levertov

An Analysis of ‘What Were They Like?’ By Denise Levertov
What Were They Like By Denise Levertov
1. Did the people of Viet Nam
use lanterns of stone?
2. Did they hold ceremonies
to reverence the opening of buds?
3.Were they inclined to quiet laughter?
4.Did they use bone and ivory
jade and silver, for ornament?
5.Had they an epic poem?
6.Did they distinguish between speech and singing?
1. Sir, their light hearts turned into stone.
It is not remembered whether in gardens
stone lanterns illumined pleasant ways.
2. Perhaps they gathered once to delight in blossoms
but after the children were killed
there were no more buds
3. Sir, laughter is bitter to the burned mouth.
4. A dream ago, perhaps. Ornament is for joy.
All bones are charred.
5. It is not remembered. Remember,
most were peasants; their life
was in rice and bamboo.
When peaceful clouds were reflected in the paddies
and the water buffalo stepped surely along terraces,
maybe fathers told their sons tales.
When bombs smashed those mirrors
there was time only to scream.
6. There is no echo yet
of their speech which was like a song.
It was reported that their singing resembled
the flight of moths in moonlight.
Who can say? It is silent now.

This piece by Denise Levertov is about the Vietnam War which occurred between 1955 till 1975. This political poetry explores the aftermath of the effects of the war in a compelling and thought provoking manner.

Title and Structure

The title which is ‘What were they like?’ simply implies a sense of curiosity and eagerness to understand what they Vietnam people were like. This curiosity is displayed in the structure of the poem. It is written as two stanza. The first stanza is a series of questions and the second stanza’s are the bitter answers to those questions. It can be said that this piece is almost like a conversation between two people. This could be interpreted as a conversation between  a tourist and a tour guide or even a dialogue between interviewer and interviewee. However, it is imperative to know that both sides are knowledgeable about Vietnam. It is just that the person asking questions holds a naive and oblivious view. Therefore, the questions gravitates towards the culture and customs of Vietnam such as ‘ceremonies to reverence the opening of buds’. This question is about what they celebrate. This cultural knowledge exudes further through asking about their ‘speech and language’ and their ‘epic poem’ as well as  what they used for ‘ornament’. It is a curiosity to their culture without the acknowledgement of the impact of the war on the culture of Vietnam. This, therefore, leads to the second part of the poem which answers all those questions and highlights the impact of war on the Vietnam people culture and customs.

Poetic Devices

Repetition: In the first stanza, the word ‘Did’ is used in every sentence. This reinforces the theme of curiosity.  However, if we analyse the word further, did is the past tense of do. This suggests that there is an ambiguous connotation here. The ambiguous connotation is that the person asking the question may have an idea that these customs were done in the past but may not be aware of whether it is done now. Therefore, he/she is curious to find out the answer.

Juxtaposition: In the second stanza, there is a series of contrast and juxtaposition. For instance, the opening line of the person answering the question begins with ‘ Sir, their light hearts turned to stone’. This shows how the war turned people with a light heated nature to stone. This imagery is one of softness and hardness in the same sentence.

Imagery: It offers bleak imagery through lines such as ‘after the children were killed, there were no more buds’. This powerful imagery helps us imagine that children should be growing like flowers but after the impact of the war, children didn’t grow. Like flowers they didn’t bud.

Conclusion 

To conclude, I believe the message of this poem is to raise awareness and insight into what life was like before, during and after the Vietnam War. It offers a cultural and political understanding of the impact of war on people.

An Analysis of ‘ You Will Hear Thunder And Remember Me’ By Anna Akhmatova

An Analysis of ‘ You Will Hear Thunder And Remember Me’ By Anna Akhmatova
You will hear thunder and remember me,
And think she wanted storms. The rim
Of the sky will be the color of hard crimson,
And your heart, as it was then, will be on fire.
That day in Moscow, it will all come true.
When, for the last time, I take my leave,
And hasten to the heights that I have longed for
Leaving my show still to be with you.
~Anna Akhmatova (June 23rd 1889- March 5th 1966)

 

This poem written by Anna Akhmatova expresses the writer anger and frustration against Stalin rule in the Soviet Union. From the writer’s biography, we know that she was persecuted and censored under Stalin’s ruler ship. This is further depicted through the writer’s mention of Moscow in the fifth line of the poem.

Structure
The poem is written as two stanza which both consists of four lines. There is no use of rhyme because the topic is quite stark and heavy. The lack of rhyme helps to set the tone of the poem. Furthermore the use of enjambment and frequent line breaks of the poem illustrates  the use of  disruption.This is to express the writers feeling towards Stalin’s ruler ship in which she wants disruption.

Tone

The tone of the poem can be said to be one of vengeance, anger and judgement. There is an element of certainty within this poem. This ambience has been set through the use of lines such as ‘You will’ and ‘And your heart, as it was then, will be on fire’ as well as ‘ That day in Moscow’. This is the writer foretelling the future in an authoritative and unquestionable manner.

Message

The main message of this poem is about legacy. We get a glimpse of how the writer wants to be remembered.  This is expressed through the line:

You will hear thunder and remember me,
And think she wanted storms.

This shows she wants to be remembered as a revolutionary and someone who wanted change. Though these changes may be violent and disruptive  and also inflict fear.

Another line which illustrates the legacy of the writer as someone who was committed to change is illustrated below:

And hasten to the heights that I have longed for
Leaving my show still to be with you.

Poetic Techniques

The poem uses vivid descriptions. The description which resonates with me the most is about the sky which is described as:

the color of hard crimson,

This is symbolic of the bloodshed under Stalin’s leadership. The effect of this blood shed is that inevitably that people’s heart will be on fire. This means when the killings and violence is rampant, then can people’s heart will be passionate about wanting change.

Thank you for reading.

An Analysis Of ‘In My Name’ By Grace Nichols

An Analysis Of ‘In My Name’ By Grace Nichols
Heavy with child
belly
an arc
of black moon
I squat over
dry plantain leaves
and command the earth
to receive you
in my name
in my blood
to receive you
my curled bean
my tainted
perfect child
my bastard fruit
my seedling
my sea grape
my strange mullato
my little bloodling
Let the snake slipping in deep grass
be dumb before you
Let the centipede writhe and shrivel
in its tracks
Let the evil one strangle on his own tongue
even as he sets his eyes upon you
For with my blood
I have cleansed you
and with my tears
I’ve pooled the river Niger
now my sweet one it is for you to swim
Grace Nichols

This compelling piece written by Grace Nichols deals with a variety of different themes such as freedom and motherhood. This blog post will explore these two themes to the poem. To begin with, an exploration of what the poem is about will be made. Then, the poetic devises will be analysed along with the poetic structure and the message of the poem.

What is this poem about?

To me, this poem is about a slave woman who gave birth to a child. A ‘mullato’ which is a term referring to children with white and black ancestry. We can infer that this child is a ‘bastard’ which illustrates how the child was not born to the woman’s husband but perhaps to a slave master. To further support this interpretation, we can deduce that the child may be born on a plantation field or in a similar surrounding where there are ‘dry plantain leaves’ for the mother to squat over and give birth.

Despite the harsh conditions in which the child is born, we can infer a mother’s prayer for the child’s safety. She prays the following:

  • Let the snake slipping in deep grass
    be dumb before you
  • Let the centipede writhe and shrivel
    in its tracks
  • Let the evil one strangle on his own tongue
    even as he sets his eyes upon you

This is a prayer because of the use of the word ‘let’ which helps her forbid the conditions that her child may go through. These phrases can be taken as literal events which the child could go through or a figurative speech of the harms and dangers in the world in which a mother doesn’t want their child to go through. The use of the repetition helps emphasise the mother’s awareness of the cruelty of the world.

Structure

This poem is written as a free verse which means that it doesn’t follow a particular rhyming pattern or stanza structure. This poem is written as a free verse to illustrate that the woman is free to be herself with her child. This is the only moment in which she experiences freedom. Alternatively, it could be seen as an irony in her situation where she may never experience freedom and the poem is her freedom.

Poetic Devices

Repetition: The use of repetition such as ‘my bastard fruit/my seedling/my sea grape/my strange mullato/ my little bloodling’ helps illustrate the negative, neutral and endearing feeling all simultaneously in which the mother feels about the child.  We are aware of the conditions in which the child is born, therefore, this repetition materialises all her feeling in one short stanza.

Alliteration:  In the beginning of the poem the use of alliteration in the line ‘belly…an arc
of black moon’. This alliteration helps consolidate the beautiful imagery of pregnancy and the ‘b’ sound helps illustrate how brave the woman is.

Message

This poem helps illustrate that a mother’s nurture, guidance and prayer can take you to a certain point. At that point, there will be a moment in time where it is ‘for you to swim’ even if your mothers efforts, hardships and guidance has  ‘pooled’ the ‘tears’.

Thank you very much for reading.

An Analysis of ‘Along The Road’ By Robert Browning Hamilton

An Analysis of ‘Along The Road’ By Robert Browning Hamilton
I walked a mile with Pleasure;
She chattered all the way,
But left me none the wiser
For all she had to say.
I walked a mile with Sorrow
And ne’er a word said she;
But oh, the things I learned from her
When Sorrow walked with me!
Robert Browning Hamilton

In the first stanza, when the poet refers to Pleasure we can see that  that the personification of pleasure fulfils its attributes. Pleasure is presented as chatty, communicative and free to express herself. However, from this piece we can deduct that with pleasure nothing is really understood or grasped in her company. This is exemplified through the line ‘But left me none the wiser for all she had to say’.

In contrast, we are introduced to the personification of sorrow. She is the complete opposite of Pleasure as ‘she ‘ne’er said a word’. Yet, we are able to grasp that you can learn from sorrow in moments of silence, sobriety and sadness. There are lessons to be learnt when experiencing sorrow.

This pieces uses juxtaposition to teach a powerful yet simple lesson that learning does not take place with pleasure but in sorrow. Furthermore, this piece indicates that wisdom rests in the hearts of those who do not always speak. Although pleasure conversed yet she was not understood whilst sorrow did not say alot but important lessons were ‘learned from her’.

Finally, this poem is  written as a quatrain which means it is a poem consisting of four lines. This is done to perhaps esteem the subject matter of Pleasure and Sorrow as equally important emotional entities. The rhyming pattern follows the structure of the second line rhyming with the last line. In both stanzas, this style of rhyme is honoured.

 

 

An Analysis Of ‘Do Not Stand At My Grave And Weep’ By Anon

An Analysis Of ‘Do Not Stand At My Grave And Weep’ By Anon
Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush.
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there. I did not die.
Anon

This blog post aims to analyse the poem ‘Do Not Stand At My Grave And Weep’. To begin with I will be analysing the structure of the poem.

Structure

The structure of this poem is very simplistic. It is written in twelve lines with a smooth rhyming pattern of AABB. This helps the poem flow fluently and gives it a sense of coherency. In fact, the rhyme illustrates how clear the poet is on the matter of celebrating life rather than death. The use of the rhyme helps convey the importance of the poet’s interpretation in regards to the meaning of life.

Message

This poem conveys the writers view on grief and loss. In most situations when people are grieving they ‘stand by the grave and weep’. This is the instructions the poet gives on what people shouldn’t do when the writer dies. To begin the poem with instructions is a powerful device. This shows the writer is clear on this subject matter of death. To prove this expertise and understanding, the writer challenges conventional beliefs of death by stating that the writer is not ‘there’ and neither ‘asleep’. The main message in which the writer conveys is that death should be celebrated through aspects that bring life and memories. This is illustrated through the phrases of  personification the writ through nature such as:

  • a thousand winds that blow
  • diamond glints on snow.
  • sunlight on ripened grain.
  • gentle autumn rain.
  • the swift uplifting rush
  • quiet birds in circled flight.
  •  soft stars that shine at night.

These are all beautiful imagery which highlights the beauty in life and moments we admire. Like these vivid imagery, the writer also wants to their life to be remembered in the same manner.

Poetic Devices

  • Repetition: The use of repetition in phrases like ‘I am’ illustrates the poet’s strong sense of identity and confidence in her entities. Furthermore, the use of ‘Do Not…’ illustrates how the poet wants to be remember.
  • Alliteration: The use of the line ‘I am the soft stars that shine at night’ helps illustrate the softness of this imagery. It softens the sentence and makes it memorable.

Overall,  I believe this is a beautiful piece of poetry that is well written and encapsulate the celebration of life and challenges the conventional approach of what death and mourning means.

An Analysis of ‘Ask Me’ By William Stafford

An Analysis of ‘Ask Me’ By William Stafford
Some time when the river is ice ask me
mistakes I have made. Ask me whether
what I have done is my life. Others
have come in their slow way into
my thought, and some have tried to help
or to hurt: ask me what difference
their strongest love or hate has made.
I will listen to what you say.
You and I can turn and look
at the silent river and wait. We know
the current is there, hidden; and there
are comings and goings from miles away
that hold the stillness exactly before us.
What the river says, that is what I say
William Stafford (1974)

In this blog post, I will be critiquing the poem ‘Ask Me’ by William Stafford. To begin with, I will explore the structure of this poem.

Structure

This poem can be divided into two stanzas. Each stanza contains seven lines. This suggests that both aspects of the poem are equally important. The use of enjambment within the poem helps create a dramatic effect as it encourages seriousness and helps build up to the next line with ease. This poetic device also helps set the tone, mood and pace of the poem.

The first stanza is quite active. This can be demonstrated through the use of the words ‘Ask Me’. This phrase is used thrice which suggests that the poet is very certain of what he wants to be asked. The poet specifies the three main topics he wants to be asked about. These are his mistakes, whether what he did was ‘his life’ and the contribution of what others have made through their ‘strongest love and hate’.

The second stanza is passive. This can be demonstrated through the use of verbs like ‘listen’, ‘look’ and ‘wait’. This passiveness is as a result of the certainty in knowing the questions in which he tells the reader to ask in the first stanza.

Poetic Devices

Metaphor: The greatest metaphor in this poem is the river. What exactly does it symbolise?
In a literal sense, we can say the river is a large natural stream of water flowing in a channel to the sea, a lake, or another river. With this literal definition we can deduce an interpretation that the river is a journey. The final destination is the sea. Therefore, we can say the river symbolises our life journey until we reach our final destination which is death. However, the river in the poem is ice. This, therefore, suggests that when life is a different state of matter, we should ask the author about his mistakes, whether what he has done is his life and the differences people’s love and hate has made.

Oxymoron: The poem constantly uses oxymoron. In the first stanza the use of oxymoron helps the reader to understand the two types of people who have influenced the poet’s mind. These are people who ‘help’ or ‘hurt’ and those who brought their strongest ‘love’ or ‘hate’. In the second stanza there is also an equal use of oxymoron. This is displayed in the line ‘turn and look’ and description of the ‘coming and going’ of the silent river.

Repetition: In the first stanza, the word ask is repeated thrice. In a similar manner, the word say is repeated thrice in the second stanza. The development of ask to say illustrates that the answer is just as important as the question.

Message: This poem is about accountability. Why? Because we are accountable for our mistakes, as well as ensuring that what we have done is our life and how we have reacted to those who tried to help or hurt. This is because in the moment ‘that hold the stillness exactly before us’ which suggest that when we are conscious, assessing and meditating on our reflections we know what the answer is.This answer lies in what our river is. Therefore, what [our] rivers says (our conscience) is what we say.

 

An Analysis of ‘On My First Sonne’ By Ben Jonson

An Analysis of ‘On My First Sonne’ By Ben Jonson
This blog post will analyse the poem ‘On My First Sonne’ by Ben Jonson which is written below:
On My First Sonne
Farewell, thou child of my right hand, and joy;
My sinne was too much hope of thee, lov’d boy.
Seven yeeres tho’ wert lent to me, and I thee pay,
Exacted by thy fate, on the just day.
O, could I lose all father now! For why
Will man lament the state he should envy?
To have so soon ‘scap’d world’s and flesh’s rage,
And if no other misery, yet age?
Rest in soft peace, and, ask’d, say, “Here doth lie
Ben Jonson his best piece of poetry.”
For whose sake henceforth all his vows be such,
As what he loves may never like too much.
Ben Jonson (1616)

Structure

The poetic structure of this poem can be summarised as consisting of 12 lines. The structure has a flowing rhyme pattern. It can also be said that this poem is well structured with a concise form relevant to the subject matter. The use of twelve lines illustrates how short-lived his son life was. It also illustrates how articulate and concise the writer is in expressing his loss. Alternatively, we can interpret the structure as an Eulogy.  Interestingly, I believe we can split the poem into three sections if we separate the poem by the first four lines.

Analysis

Section One

Farewell, thou child of my right hand, and joy;
My sinne was too much hope of thee, lov’d boy.
Seven yeeres tho’ wert lent to me, and I thee pay,
Exacted by thy fate, on the just day.

The poem commences with a goodbye through the use of ‘farewell’. This beginning is quite compelling and helps us to understand that new beginnings sometimes need closure. He refers to his son as his right hand and joy. In the era in which the poem was written, the right hand would have been symbolic of strength, power and protection. Personally, I feel the right hand is a symbol of function as the usage of the hand is needed daily to complete activities. Therefore, he was needed and couldn’t be lived without.

The next line is a bitter line which states ‘my sinne was too much hope of thee, lov’d boy’. The use of sin suggests it was immoral of him to have high expectations, dreams and ambitions for his son which is a natural ‘hope’ that any parent would have toward their child. He acknowledges that it was too much to expect a future for his son.

The third line suggest his son was loaned to him and the moment in time they shared together is now a consequence he is paying for.  Perhaps, he is paying for the bond and connection they share.

The fourth line suggests that his death was accounted for by fate. This suggests that this is the father’s explanation for his son’s death. This helps add meaning and a form of reasoning in understanding and accepting that the son had to die because accepting fate as the explanation helps to lighten the load.

Section Two

O, could I lose all father now! For why
Will man lament the state he should envy?
To have so soon ‘scap’d world’s and flesh’s rage,
And if no other misery, yet age?

The line which grabs my attention in this poem is ‘Will man lament the state he should envy?’ To me this suggests, that perhaps we shouldn’t fear death or in the writers words ‘lament’ over death. It suggest we should envy those who have died and ‘escaped’ the ‘world’s’  and ‘flesh’s’ rage. This suggest that those who have died have indeed escaped misery whilst the alive are to yet ‘age’.

Section Three

Rest in soft peace, and, ask’d, say, “Here doth lie
Ben Jonson his best piece of poetry.”
For whose sake henceforth all his vows be such,
As what he loves may never like too much.

In the final lines of the poem, he refers to his son as his best piece of poetry. He acknowledges his son as his best piece of work. This shows how much he esteemed his son. Therefore, he leaves us with a ‘vow’ which is whatever he loves may he not ‘like too much’. This suggest that the writer will never hold anything in value or in high regards because the only thing in which he did is now gone.

Thank you for reading!

 

An Analysis of ‘My Father Is A Retired Magician’ By Dr. Ntozake Shange

An Analysis of ‘My Father Is A Retired Magician’ By Dr. Ntozake Shange

In this blog post, an analysis of the poem ‘My Father Is A Retired Magician’ will be made. The poem commence with this:

my father is a retired magician
which accounts for my irregular behavior
everythin comes outta magic hats
or bottles wit no bottoms & parakeets
are as easy to get as a couple a rabbits
or 3 fifty cent pieces/ 1958

From this opening we can deduce that the father’s occupation affects the narrator’s behaviour. The writer describes what the profession entails as ‘everythin comes outta magic hats and bottles wit no bottoms’. This typically would be classed as ‘white magic’ but we know the writer’s father is a black magician because of the sociolect of the poem which resembles the Southern twang in America in which Shange often writes in. There is also a subtle device in setting the scene. The writer wants us to know to that this piece is set in America in ‘1958’.

my daddy retired from magic & took
up another trade cuz this friend of mine
from the 3rd grade asked to be made white
on the spot

In this next aspect of the poem, I have two interpretations.
The first interpretation is that it shows the severity of racism and how children as young as the third grade are aware of race structures. It highlights that even children can recognise the ‘dominant’ race.
The second interpretation to this is that only magic can transcend the impossible. This means the child making the request believes magic will change things and make what is impossible (changing race) to possible. This shows her faith in magic can break that racial barriers. However, we know the magician cannot do this as this is the very reason he has retired.

 

what cd any self-respectin colored american magician
do wit such a outlandish request/ cept
put all them razzamatazz hocus pocus zippity-do-dah
thingamajigs away cuz
colored chirren believin in magic
waz becomin politically dangerous for the race
& waznt nobody gonna be made white
on the spot just
from a clap of my daddy’s hands

The next part of this poem acknowledges that it is a ‘outlandish request’. However as the poem progresses, this is a common problem. This is expressed in the line ‘colored chirren believin in magic’. This suggest that this mentality that it takes magic to overcome racial adversity is something that is common but also ‘politically dangerous for the race’. However, this begs the question of is it dangerous for all races? Or just the black race?
Personally, I believe it was gravitating towards the latter because ‘nobody’ black will be made ‘white’ by the clap of her father’s hands.

& the reason i’m so peculiar’s
cuz i been studyin up on my daddy’s technique
& everythin i do is magic these days
& it’s very colored
very now you see it/ now you
dont mess wit me
i come from a family of retired
sorcerers/ active houngans & pennyante fortune tellers
wit 41 million spirits critturs & celestial bodies
on our side
i’ll listen to yr problems
help wit yr career yr lover yr wanderin spouse
make yr grandma’s stay in heaven more gratifyin
ease yr mother thru menopause & show yr son
how to clean his room

The influence of the narrator’s father is highlighted in this part of the poem again. There is an element of blame that her father made her strange, weird or rather ‘peculiar’. The narrator realises that everything she does is coloured. It is a ‘now you see it/ now don’t mess with it’. This highlights the intensity and seriousness of black magic. The genealogy of the narrator is also revealed which suggests she is accustomed to magic especially with the ’41 million critturs & celestial bodies’ on our (black people) sides. This show how often we need number on our side.  More importantly, with her black magic, she lists the problems of the community which are: unemployment (help wit yr career), love, wanderin spouses, death, womanly issues and family.

YES YES YES 3 wishes is all you get
scarlet ribbons for yr hair
benwa balls via hong kong
a miniature of machu picchu

In this section, we get a reference to Asian magic through mention of ‘benwa balls from Hong Kong. As well as a South American mention of ‘machu picchu’. The belief of magic is universal and worldwide through the narrator’s eyes.

all things are possible
but aint no colored magician in her right mind
gonna make you white
i mean
this is blk magic
you lookin at
& i’m fixin you up good/ fixin you up good n colored
& you gonna be colored all yr life
& you gonna love it/ bein colored/ all yr life/ colored & love it
love it/ bein colored/
Spell #7 from Upnorth-Outwest Geechee Jibara Quik Magic Trance Manual for Technologically Stressed Third World People

The final aspect of the poem finally reveals the mesage that the magic lies with being black. Being black and coloured all your life should be what you love and appreciate. She adds a juxaposition of humour and reality to the line ‘Spell #7 from Upnorth-Outwest Geechee Jibara Quik Magic Trance Manual for Technologically Stressed Third World People’ to show that being black in Africa is more difficult and stressful in comparison to their African-American counterpart. This simply illustrates that the situation ‘could be worst’.