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Free Verse II

December 13, 2010

SUN

Michael Palmer

This poem in free verse begins with varying declarative statements : “write this,” which  seem to be the poet’s commands and creates a tone of a soldier or officer writing his memoirs. The soldier repeats his first statement and he develops the line to be more personal. He creates a personal document describing the atrocities of war: “it is the time of mutations” (5). The scattered memories and the random fragments interject the poem and leave the reader in a confused state which reflects the painful and disjointed thoughts of the speaker: “let go of me for I have died and am in a novel and was a lyric poet” (13). Palmer then describes the horrors of war and the effects on the native inhabitants of the countries. He describes the erasing of people and their ways of life, and he describes the horrific accounts of troops: “he knows his breathing organs are manipulated by God, so that he is compelled to scream” (23). Then Palmer describes the experiences of the colonized natives, who don’t have voices because they can not speak the language of the colonizers: “I learned language on this island but did not speak on this island” (34). Palmer writes in the voice of the people who can’t communicate and are suffering due to warfare.

Free Verse

December 13, 2010

DOVER BEACH

Matthew Arnold

A poem in free verse lacks any structured meter or rhyme scheme and allows the poet to write almost freely, as there are still many sub-types to the poetic form.

In the mid-1800s, in Matthew Arnold’s world, religion was being whittled away by scientific discoveries and modernity and industrialization. In “Dover Beach,” he laments the ebbing of religious faith and the conflict among its believers. The first stanza of the poem describes the ocean and the beach using beautiful imagery: “moon-blanched land” and “grating roar of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling” (10). The ocean symbolizes religious faith: “the Sea of Faith” (21) which used to be full and powerful now slows and has an “eternal not of sadness” (14). Arnold refers to Sophocles’s Antigone where the sea-swell was mighty and powerful and now it is retreating from secularism. Arnold believes that Sophocles’s observations on the Mediterranean echoes his emotions and feelings of “human misery” (18).

In the final stanza, Arnold laments the retreating of faith from the world, which used to be “a land of dream, so various, so beautiful, so new” (31) and now appears to be a wasteland, a “darkling plain” (35) filled with confusion, doubt, and violence: “where ignorant armies clash by night” (37).

Elegy

December 13, 2010

ELEGY WRITTEN IN A COUNTRY CHURCHYARD

An elegy is a poetic form which laments the death of a person. A pastoral elegy is the representation of both the poet and the one he mourns as shepherds. This elegy written by Thomas Gray is an example of a pastoral elegy.

The first stanza of the poem describes the coming of night and how the shepherd, or poet, is left to himself with his herd. Gray goes on to describe the quiet and still night where “all the air a solemn stillness holds,” (6) as though time itself has stood still yet the hills are peaceful. The following stanza contains an example of personification as the owl “complains” to the moon for coming nearer and “molesting” her “ancient solitary reign” (12). Darkness unfolds on the churchyard and Gray begins to describe the inhabitants of the graves as rustic prisoners of sleep: “each in his narrow cell forever laid, the rude forefathers of the hamlet sleep” (15-16). Being imprisoned in their graves, the dead will no longer hear the chirping birds or the rooster’s call to rouse them out of their sleep. Gray continues to describe what the dead will no longer be able to experience: they wives smothering them, their children kissing them, nor the fruits of their labor: “oft did the harvest to their sickle yield, their furrow oft the stubborn glebe has broke” (25-26). Gray respects the men who labored in the fields, the peasants who were mocked by the nobles and the wealthy, because eventually, “the paths of glory lead but to the grave” (36). And Gray states that no matter how ornamented or adorned their graves are, “the pealing anthem swells the note of praise” (40), that death is silent and all the honor falls on silent ears. The inhabitant of the grave could have been a great person who led an empire or a great writer like Milton, or the leader Cromwell, but their lives were wasted. The poet laments the deaths of these rural people who were not fortunate enough to reach their potential. Gray’s elegy is a reflection on morality and it ends in an epitaph which is used as a consolation: “a youth to Fortune and to Fame unknown,” someone who was not wealthy or powerful, but died young without having reach his potential; “his soul sincere, Heaven did a recompense as largely send,” (121-122) meaning that although the youth was not fortunate in his life, he would be rewarded in heaven in “the bosom of his Father and his God” (128).

Villanelle

November 29, 2010

Nov. 23, 2010

 

The blazing fires still burn,

The soldier searches the sky,

And forever leaves the stern.

 

He makes a decisive turn,

Only duty in his eye,

The blazing fires still burn.

 

The waters of war churn,

The ghost of the soldier flies,

And forever leaves the stern.

 

Hands hold the empty urn,

His mother sobs her good-bye,

The blazing fires still burn.

 

For grisly revenge, hearts yearn,

A renewed army on stand-by,

And forever leaves the stern.

 

We have yet to learn,

From mistakes, young men die,

The blazing fires still burn,

And forever leaves the stern.

The Greater Romantic Lyric

November 16, 2010

SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE, “FROST AT MIDNIGHT”

 

“Frost at Midnight” is a romantic lyric written in blank verse. Lyrics are poems of deep emotions and feelings and are first-person accounts of a specific moment. In this poem, the speaker describes a night in a cottage where the speaker and his sleeping infant son are the only inhabitants. In the first stanza, the speaker meditates on the extreme silence of the night which is distracting in its calmness. The flickering fire and its fluttering ashes only breaks the silence. So the speaker reminisces about his childhood and school days. And as he describes the inhabitants of the cottage to be “inmates” he is reminded of how he used  to stare out of the bars at the church tower. Being bored, the speaker used to hope for a relative or a friend to burst through the class door and rescue him. The next stanza, he describes his infant son and he ravishes in his beauty and innocence. And the speakers emotion seeps out of the page through the emotional diction: “My babe so beautiful! it thrills my heart/With tender gladness, thus to look at thee.” (48-49) In the following lines, the speaker praises the natural landscape of the mountains surrounding the cottage and his hope that his son would grow up in that environment unlike his father who lived in the city. He emphasizes the divinity and holiness of the landscape in the lines, “The loves shapes and sounds intelligible/Of that eternal language, which thy God/Utters, who from eternity doth teach/Himself in all, and all things in himself.” (59-62) Therefore, in the final stanza, the speaker says that all seasons will be sweet to his child from the greenness of summer to the quiet, frosty winter. This poem is a beautiful and moving depiction of the relationship between childhood and nature.

Blank Verse

October 17, 2010

SMOKE AND BODIES.


Hip hop bumping in the background, low and throbbing,

Dark light illuminating white smoke and bodies pushing through,

The wood floor is steady, dirt crunching beneath my boots,

But the narrow hallway is a blur of smiling, red faces.

I smell the Ralph Lauren and Victoria’s Secret, diffused

Throughout the room, muddles up with smoke and sweat.

I see the sly smile, the spiked hair, turquoise

Shirt with swirls of white and red frosting the cloth

Vital pulsing, red organ throbbing under the soft fabric,

Beating in rhythm with mine, in harmony with the music.

Smiling eyes flicker with amusement, blinks are rare,

Fingers intertwine, noses wrinkle, teeth peek out from

Pink lips like mountain peaks piercing through clouds,

In slow motion, bodies push together, vivid in the smoke.

Address & Audience

October 7, 2010

DADDY. Sylvia Plath

You do not do, you do not do

Any more, black shoe

In which I have lived like a foot

For thirty years, poor and white,

Barely daring to breathe or Achoo.

Read more…