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Poetry

POETRY

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TABLE OF CONTENT

1.SONG: WHY SO PALE AND WAN,FOND LOVER? By John Suckling- CRITICAL ANALYSIS

2.WHAT THING IS LOVE? By GEORGE PEELE-CRITICAL ANALYSIS.

3.SONNET 11-BY LADY MARY WROTH-CRITICAL ANALYSIS.

4.SONG:WEEP NO MORE SAD FOUNTAINS-BY ANONYMOUS-CRITICAL ANALYSIS

5.WHEN I WAS FAIR AND YOUNG -BY QUEEN ELIZABETH-CRITICAL ANALYSIS

6.THEY FLEE FROM ME,THAT SOMETIME DID ME SEEK-By Thomas Wyatt-CRITICAL ANALYSIS

7.SONNET 61-By Michael Drayton-CRITICAL ANALYSIS

8.WRITTEN ON THE NIGHT OF HIS EXECUTION- By Chidiock Tichbourne-CRITICAL ANALYSIS

9. THE AUTHOR’S EPITAPH MADE BY HIMSELF-By Sir Walter Raleigh-CRITICAL ANALYSIS

10.A LITANY IN TIME OF PLAGUE-By Thomas Nash-CRITICAL ANALYSIS

11.SONG: GO, LOVELY ROSE! By Edmund Waller-CRITICAL ANALYSIS

12.NO CROOKED LEG,NO BLEARED EYE-By Queen Elizabeth-CRITICAL ANALYSIS

13. FROM UNDERWOOD-By Ben Jonson.

14.SONNET 19-By Lady Mary Wroth.

15.THE FLOWERS THAT ON THE BANKS AND WALKS DID GROW-Aemilia Lanye

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SONG: WHY SO PALE AND WAN, FOND LOVER? By John Suckling-CRITICAL ANALYSIS

CONTENT

Though written in the17th century romantic era, Why So Pale is a reflection of the Middle Age chivalry love scene, where love or affection of a man for his lover is marked by extreme devotion and

in the poem tries to identify why his friend is not able to win his sacrifice.

The poem is built round the two friends, one a lover and the other advising the male lover. The adviser bases his opinion and advice on his observation. He first observes the pale and wan looks of a lover, which he feels instead of arousing positive attitude from his lover would deter her. In the second stanza, the persona-adviser feels being mute would not achieve much in winning his lover, when many protestations have failed in the past. In the last and third stanza, the speaker lover and comes to the conclusion that, if she herself does not love him, it would be difficult for his advances to be reciprocated. So he states unequivocally, that he forgets the whole business of wooing the proud lady.

THEMES

Sacrifice /Pain of Love-The lover has to exhibit so much physical traits to convince his lover that he is really in love. He has to look unkempt and neglected, so as to arouse her sympathy. In addition, instead of being lively and loquacious, he has to take the posture of mourning and groaning in pain to show his love – sickness.

Unrequited Love-The whole concern of the poem is about a non-present lady, who exercises so much influence on the male lover, by not reciprocating his love advances. This trait typically presents the snobbish and proud attitude of a Victorian lady.

Form and Structure

This is a lyric poem built round 3 stanzas of 5 lines each. The first one describes the physical change in the male-lover. The second dwells on his strange muteness. The last concludes the poem with a pungent solution to the lover’s problem. This explains the appropriateness of the word Why in stanza one and two. They are employed to rhetorically raise questions. Quit in the last stanza gives an affirmative and conclusive advice.

 IMAGERY/OTHER LITERARY DEVICES

Language is simple and conversational, akin to a light dialogue between two friends. The foundation of the language is the rhetorical question approach, applied throughout the poem, tainted with a bit of mockery and sarcasm.

VOICE/TONE/ATMOSPHERE

The tone starts on an evocative manner as if encouraging the man-lover to rise from his love-sickness. This is also enhanced by the rhetorical tone of questioning the rationality of the male lover’s action. The questions are  posed in such a way  to make the lover-persona do a personal self-assessment of his behaviour. This self-examining tone is mostly aided by the word, why. This tone however changes in the last stanza to that of affirmative sternness, this time round, telling him what to do, which is to forget about a situation that is hopeless, because if the lady does not love him, nothing would change the situation. He thereafter casts some aspersion on the lady’s aloof attitude, ‘The devil take her!’

SOUND EFFECTS

Being a lyrical poem, its musicality is enhanced greatly by the juxtaposition and parallelism in the structure of the poem. This explains the ample application of repetitions and rhetorical questions in why so and will in stanzas one and two. The last third stanza however starts on an affirmative, repetitive and forceful tone of Quit, quit. The main effect here is to project the ridiculousness and childishness of the man-lover’s attitude. By asking the question, why the speaker-persona wants his friend to do a self-assessment of his action.Thus,the  rhetorical questions are simultaneously followed by what the speaker-persona considers the answer to the issue raised. To further accentuate the shallowness of the lover’s action, the poem employs the alliteration in pale, prithee, prevail. There is equally ample use of caesuras intermittently, to create a reflective effect of the rhetorical questions after wan in stanza one, prithee in stanza two and even will in stanza three. These are used to make the male-lover pause and reflect on the rationality of his love-sick attitude. The exuberance and uncontrolled anger of the persona is finally reflected in in the exasperating exclamation, the devil take her! It is also instructive to note the ample use of end-stops at every line in the poem to create a sense of seriousness for an otherwise trivial preoccupation. The absurdity of a trivial issue presented as being serious creates a remarkable effect. The predominantly alternative rhymes scheme creates a lyric effect, to accentuate the duality of a relationship between two lovers.

DICTION/VOCABULARY

The vocabulary and diction is simple and could be colloquial at times. This is enhanced by the monosyllabic form of most words. The diction mostly depict negativity of a sorrowful, dull and melancholy situation, occasioned by love-sickness in words such as,pale,wan,dull,sinner,mute,devil etc.

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WHAT THING IS LOVE? By GEORGE PEELE-CRITICAL ANALYSIS

CONTENT

The poem examines the various subtleties and forms of love and this is rhetorically presented with the opening line, ‘What thing is love? ‘One would expect a following profound answer, but the poet merely says: ‘for sure love is a thing’; something mysterious, simple, yet complex. The persona gets more precise by describing love as a gradual thing from a prick to sting with its attendant pain. Contrastively, the next third line views the soothing aspect of love as something pretty, but the repetition of the word casts some doubt on the veracity of the use of this word. The fourth line seems to reveal the real intent of the ironic beauty earlier used to describe love, with its description as a fire and coal. Thus, it is a thing that is uncontrollable, passionate and destructive too. This destructiveness is so pervading that it destroys the whole being of any man who falls under its spell. Line six however presents the limitation of the persona’s knowledge in describing love as he rightly describes, ‘And, as my with doth best devise’. He continues with his description of love and this time round in line seven, by identifying its location and rightly so in ladies’eyes.’and it is from here that men are made to fall in love. The poem concludes with the indelible impact of love on men.

 THEME

The poem is built round one major theme of Definition and subtleties of love,round which are other sub-themes such as Mysteriousness of love and Destructiveness of love.

 FORM AND FORM

What Thing is Love is lyrical 10-line poem .It uses its title to build the rhetorical question applied in the first line, to variously define love. This is subsequently followed by various attempts to describe the various forms and nuances of love. The first four lines are expressed through the simplified structure of it is…However from the fifth stanza, the definition of love becomes more complex and mysterious with the poem identifying its source and target,  coupled with its destructive nature.

 IMAGERY AND OTHER LITERARY DEVICES

The poem is metaphorically built defining love through its direct comparison to a prick, a sting, a pretty thing, a fire, a coal, flame, all these portraying the complexity and destructiveness of love. The pervading and uncontrollable nature of love is further accentuated as it could reach every hole or pore of human body. Love takes on human attribute with its further personification with its abode identified as being in ladies’eyes.There is a tacit reference to Cupid’s darts, which are myth logically ascribed to be what makes men fall in love.

 VOICE, TONE, MOOD, ATMOSPHERE

With the opening rhetorical tone of the poem, it is aptly set on the path of the poet’s speculative and doubtful voice on what exactly love is.The various options reeled out by the persona indicates his attempt to capture what love is.This enquiring tone continues till the last line.

SOUND EFFECTS

The only rhetorical question in the poem is used as a fulcrum to launch the following variations of love listed and this sets the speculative tone of the poem in motion. To further accentuate the simplicity and yet the complexity of what love is, repetition is put to ample use, rendered in simple sentence structure of it is… The simplicity of this structure prepares the reader for further complex exploration of love in lines 5 to 10.The repetitive alliteration of p in prick,pretty,presents love as simple, to complement the thing description of line one. The sense of doubt of what love is which pervades the poem is aptly marked by caesuras .These are also used to contrast some key symbols of what love is such as …fire…coal. The same effect is what the end-stops of the poem tend to achieve and also drawing attention to the caution that love demands. Lastly, the rhyme scheme of ab ac c dd ee starts on an irregular trend to depict attempt to capture what love is and finally becoming regular with couplets to depict some level of more precise definition of what love is.

DICTION/VOCABULARY

Simple mono –syllabic words make up the poem, making its comprehension quite easy. The same simple sentence structure is applied especially in the first four lines of the poem. One of the strengths of the poem is its being built round symbolisms, in words such as prick, sting, coal which also have metaphorical implications. There is equally implicit to cupid the blind son of Venus in love’s piercing darts.

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SONNET 11-BY LADY MARY WROTH-CRITICAL ANALYSIS.

CONTENT

The poem, Sonnet 11 is a lamentation song of love unreciprocated. The persona is currently undergoing the torment of rejection. Feeling exasperated, he agonizes over his long overdue derision and rejection by the one he loves. The ample use of negative words, captures the need for the persona’s travail of rejection to end. The poem closes on a last call for redemption before it gets too late.

THEMES

Agony of love

FORMS AND STRUCTURE 

Being a sonnet, the poem has a tightly structured thematic organisation. For instance, the first 4 lines (quatrain) are invocative, as the persona rhetorically draws attention to his plight, of unending love agony, asking when it would all end. The octave that follows, takes on the form of expatiation and further consolidation of his argument. The last couplet concludes and re-echoes the essence of the poem, although with more desperation of what a delay could cause

IMAGERY AND OTHER LITERARY DEVICES

 To vividly capture the extent of agony the persona experiences, the poem employs vivid imagery  as explicated in  that my rest oppress. The same visual imagery of the heart being loaded with distress is also implied. To further accentuate the depth of agony, two negative words are yoked to create a metaphorical effect in sad pain. Other examples of imagery:

…feed not my heart

…see my cruel fortunes again

…godhead Love

…blame of cruelty

…Sad pain

VOICE ,TONE,MOOD AND ATMOSPHERE 

The poem from inception to its conclusion is loaded with ‘endless torments’, of sorrow, agony and pain. This is mostly captured by the exasperating tone of anguish expressed by rhetorical question in the opening first four lines of the poem. It continues with a plea for  relief and ending with a hopeless last gasp of hope with an exclamatory tone in the last two lines of the poem. With ample use of personal pronouns like my, I, me, the persona is able to draw the readers’ sympathy to his deep anguish. Generally, the poem starts on an anguishing manner and ends with the same exasperating tone of a call for help.

SOUND EFFECTS 

The poem is mostly enhanced by its rich display of sound effects with the opening first three lines of rhetorical questions which accentuate the depth of the persona’s anguish. This sense of agony is further enhanced by the end-stops that are ubiquitously spread over the poem. The enjambments employed in the poem are mainly utilized to come in alternatively in lines 5, 7,9,11 and 13 to lighten the condensed pervading sorrow of the poem. The caesuras in lines 4 and 6,8, all serve the same purpose of gauging the level of sorrow in the poem. It becomes more pungent and impactful in the last line after my needful aid. The use of exclamation in 13 shows the level of desperation in the voice of the persona. It is also instructional to note the capitalisation of Love, which is the subject-matter of the poem. Though the poem uses some light sounds in the alliteration stay and sad, they are not effective in dousing the atmosphere of sorrow in the poem. Internal rhymes in endless…oppress… and express also fail to achieve a mellowing effect in the poem. The rhyme scheme is also used regularly in the normal mould of a sonnet, concluding with a couplet, used to create a unique generic theme throughout the poem.

DICTION /VOCABULARY 

Most words carry the weight of negative connotation which is conveyed in simple language. Where words are used metaphorically, they are meant to portray a deep sense of pain, felt in epithets and double –negative words like endless torments, sad pain, sharp distress, cruel fortunes, cruelty disgrace,

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SONG:WEEP NO MORE SAD FOUNTAINS-BY ANONYMOUS-CRITICAL ANALYSIS

CONTENT

The poem opens, using an apostrophe in an address to a fountain, which could have been an inspiration for the poem or the sight of person going through sad moment, probably weeping profusely. The second analogy is a mountain covered in snow and being melted by the sun, releasing a deluge of water compared to tears. The poem from the fifth verse introduces a contrast to the sad ambiance of the fountains, this time round, a positive ‘sun’s heavenly eyes’ is introduced which symbolises the supreme spiritual powers from the celestial realm, which does not accord any respect and recognition to the persona’ sorrowful state. The celestial realm also presents itself contrastively as a citadel of peace and this continues till the last line of the stanza, captured in ‘softly, now softly lies Sleeping’. The second stanza continues the stressing of the last point mentioned, dwelling on the benefits of having a peace of mind and as such, seeing sleep as a process of reconciling with nature .More examples of gaiety is drawn from the sun rise smiling, even in the dark covered evening. The ambiance of peacefulness created in the first stanza is recreated.

 THEMES

Sorrow

Gaiety

Positive Side of Death

 FORM AND STRUCTURE

The poem is a lyrical one with 2 stanzas, of 9 lines each. The first stanza exhorts and pacifies the unseen persona to jettison her crying, drawing inferences from nature, known for its peacefulness and tranquillity. The second stanza dwells more on the positive side of rest, this time round, the beauty of sleep or death which is a process of man reconciling with his maker or nature.

 IMAGERY AND OTHER LITERARY DEVICES

The metaphorical reference to sad fountains in the opening line of the poem draws attention to the plight of the sorrowful persona and the profuse depth of her agony, which could only be compared to the deluge of tears being released. The contrast of the healing substance of nature is introduced in heaven’s sun doth gently waste and sun’s heavenly eyes. Other imageries used generously in the poem tend towards the positive atmosphere the poet intends to create, to subsume the negative ones in Heaven’s sun doth gently waste, Sun’s heavenly eyes etc.

 SOUND EFFECTS

The poem maintains a solemn and cautious feel almost throughout the poem and this is mostly achieved through ample use of end-stops at the end of most lines in the poem. However enjambments have almost equal application in a poem, that is supposed to be sorrowful. The effect of this is the calming effect meant to mitigate the sadness of the poem. One would have expected a lot of caesuras in the poem, but this is not the case. Where they appear, they create a lasting effect, as seen in the opening line, where rhetorical question is put to effective use in pricking the conscience of the persona, on the rationale behind her agony. The next caesuras appear in the second to the last verse of the first stanza, where a mellowing effect is created to douse a sorrowful atmosphere. The same effect and repetition is achieved in the last and second stanza. Thus, the repetition in the poem serves as a refrain to establish the soothing effect of tranquillity, over the sadness of tears. One could claim that the alliteration used in s attempts to create a light atmosphere of gaiety.

 VOICE, TONE, MOOD AND ATMOSPHERE

The pervading atmosphere in the poem is that of sorrow, occasioned by agonizing tears of the persona. Even the pacifying tone of the poem, further creates a melancholy feeling and mood. However, the second stanza attempts to be more pacifying, with the introduction of the tone of the positive side of sleep.

 DICTION/VOCABULARY

Being a lyrical poem, the poem utilises simple diction, exemplified by mostly mono-syllabic words. To create a vivid effect, the poem mostly applies present continuous tense, which also rhymes to form couplets in weeping and sleeping in the first stanza and repeatedly used for the same effect in the second stanza.

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WHEN I WAS FAIR AND YOUNG -BY QUEEN ELIZABETH-CRITICAL ANALYSIS

CONTENT

Being subjective in narration ,the poem starts as such with the persona reminiscing on early days when a lot of men seek sort her hands in love, but which she rebuffs with the refrain,’Go,go,go,seek some otherwhere;importune me no more’. However, could her rejection be based on the fact that they want her as their mistress rather as a lover? Because there is no sense of intimacy and passion in the men’s request.

The second stanza expatiates on the depth of the suffering she wrecks on men, as they weep and sigh. Instead of showing sympathy for these men, she gets more proud. The third stanza is the climax of the poem, in the persona’s encounter with the humbling power of cupid’s arrow in ‘I will pluck your plumes’. The last and forth stanza gives a concluding tone as the effect ofthe arrow of love shot at her from Cupid begins to manifest, in that she too falls in love and could no longer say, ‘Go, go,go,seek some other where…’’

 THEMES

Youthful Exuberance/Folly of Youth

Pride

Agony of Love

Change

 FORM AND STRUCTURE

This is a 4-stanza poem of equal four lines each. Each stanza is marked by symbolic opening words of When in stanza one, How in stanza two, Then in stanza three and As in the last stanza. They all markedly outline the content of each stanza. The first dwells on the folly of youth, where the persona is carried away by her beauty. The second is on the agony she causes a lot of men, breaking their hearts. Then the third stanza speaks of the life-changing encounter, which breaks her pride and the last stanza, conclusively speaks of the transformation in the attitude of the persona for good.

 IMAGERY AND OTHER LITERARY DEVICES/LANGUAGE

The poem though simple in language, nevertheless uses quite some imagery to mostly portray the feelings and attitudes of the persona. Favour graced me presents an image of lady who is endowed freely by nature without deserving it, but who decides to use the same gift of nature to punish men. Such agonies that her suitors are subjected to are equally expressed in rich synecdoche such as Weeping eyes/Sighing hearts to convey the depth of the suffering of the men-suitors. In the third stanza, the surgery of pride performed on the persona prompts the plucking of her plumes, thus giving a picture of a pride-filled peacock, whose flamboyant feathers have been plucked, rendering her vulnerable to love. Lastly and appropriately too, the transformation in the persona in inferred in ‘’change grew in my heart’’ to denote a life-changing transformation.

Being a lyrical poem, it is mostly enhanced by its musicality with simple language generally. The poem is also enhanced by its dramatic content as the persona expresses her thoughts and even making Venus speak.

VOICE,TONE,MOOD AND ATMOSPHERE

The tone undulates through the stanzas starting from the pompous tone of the first stanza to the  second stanza where there is an introduction of a tint of remorse and this continues till the third stanza marked by a tone that is more condescending in rebuking the pride of the persona. The last stanza somehow re-echoes and re-affirms the sense of regret and remorse hinted at in stanza two.Generally,an atmosphere of a reminisce is created and the mood is instructive as the persona takes the reader through a journey of a past folly and the transformation that emanates from it later in his life. One must also mention the introductory words of each stanza, which set the tone. When and How for example conveys the time of ignorance and youthfulness, while Then and As used in the third and last stanza present the present reality of the persona in maturity and self-realisation.

 SOUND EFFECTS

Being a lyrical poem, its composition almost follows the characteristic rhyme, rhythm and other sound devices. The structure is anchored on a balanced parallelism which gives it a symmetrical balance and musicality. This is aided by refrains and repetitions at the end of each stanza to echo and stress the main subject-matter of the poem. This strict structure is also enhanced by the opening word of each stanza which sets the tone. The use of But in the third verse of stanzas one and two also has the same effect. The alliteration applied in the first and second stanza is exemplified in f in fair, favour, for, and s in sought, scorn, seek, skill, show, spake, sighing. All these send a sense of lightness and frivolities of a vain life. The couplet which pervades the poem further enhances its simplicity and its lyrical content. It is also significant to note that most of the lines, except the first line of the last stanza runs into the next line and this is marked by such change grew in my breast, which stresses the change in the attitude of the persona. Incidentally other lines are marked by end-stops.

DICTION/VOCABULARY

The simple mono-syllabic words which make up most of the poem helps to make the diction rather simple. The use of present continuous tense in weeping and sighing equally accentuates the depth of the agony of the lovesick suitors. Archaism is also introduced especially where reference is made to Venus in words such as spake, which incidentally is made to rhyme with brave. Another example is dame which also rhymes with dainty. Classical allusion in reference to Venus and Cupid, her son stamps some level of supernatural authority to check the persona’s excesses.

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THEY FLEE FROM ME,THAT SOMETIME DID ME SEEK-By Thomas Wyatt-CRITICAL ANALYSIS

CONTENT

This lyrical poem shares the persona’s experience with his female lovers, aptly captured in the topic of the poem and in the first verse. These ladies come in different shapes and they are gentle, tame and meek, but later get wild and forget how they used to be submissive to the love advances of the persona. The second stanza takes a reminiscing view of the persona’s experience and he could rightly feel a sense of appreciation for his later encounter with not just many of these ladies, but  one of them, who he seems to be in love with. He describes this experience when he gets intimate with this lady, but this time round, he finds himself under the control of the lady, a contrast to what happens in the first stanza. The third and the last stanza yet takes another retrospective view of his past experience, precisely his last encounter with the lady, where he tries to reassure the readers that the incident actually happens. However, he delves into the culminating ugly consequence of this last encounter with the lady when she leaves him and he willingly let go and this time, not with any sense of regret, but with a feeling that he rightly deserves what he gets. Wyatt’s private is somehow reflected in this poem. This is time, when he is accused of having an affair with the king’s mistress, Anne Boleyn which earns him a short stint in detention. This poem appears to be a culmination of the kind of treatment he receives from not only female friends thereafter, but also his former friends.

 THEMES

Separation/Rejection

Promiscuity

Interdependence

Change of Fortune.

FORM AND STRUCTURE

This is a 7-line poem of three stanzas. The three stanzas appear to deal with three incidents that happen at different times. The first one is  a time in the far past, when the persona was deluged by many ladies and even men seeking his attention ,favour and company. The second stanza focuses on his passionate meeting with a particular lady, while the last one reminisces on his experience, especially his last encounter and what he learns from it.

IMAGERY AND OTHER LITERARY DEVICES/LANGUAGE

The message of the poem is mostly conveyed through a simple prose. However, the poem is highly enhanced by its rich imagery, especially in the first stanza, where the reader is kept in suspense as the poem is not specific, with the initial reference to They. It even gets more ambiguous with the ample use of animal imagery in stanza one, where the following are used: With naked foot stalking…,Gentle, tame and meek…,wild, Take bread at my hand…These imageries aptly capture the voracious attitude of the lady lovers and friends, who are mostly after what they could gain from the male-persona. It also captures the persona’s predatory opinion of his lovers. There is also the use of symbolism in reference to bread in line six-the material reward gained by the female lovers.

VOICE ,TONE, MOOD AND ATMOSPHERE

The poem creates a persuasive tone to arouse sympathy from the readers as the persona explains his bad treatment in the hands of his female friends. In the second stanza, the tone becomes rather romantic and returns to its persuasive tone, ending in the concluding two lines on a self-justifying note. It is of note that the persona receives his rejection with calm equanimity and this accounts for the use of various forms of sarcasm towards the end of the poem in lines such as, Thanked be fortune it had been otherwise and thorough my gentleness.

 SOUND EFFECTS

The poem employs diverse sound effects and this is not surprising as the poem is built on a lot of actions and mobility. The use of assonance ee in flee and me effectively complements the alliteration of the f sound in flee and from to depict a motion effect. Caesura is equally put to effective use in the first stanza, as it aptly describes the stealthy movement and caution used to describe the attitude of the women-lovers. Not much of caesura is applied in the second stanza as an atmosphere of gaity and laxity is created. End-stop is also put to ample use at the end of every line in the poem except, the enjambment of line 4 to 5, which accentuates the sense of wildness mentioned in line 4 and also the eagerness of the persona to let out what is obviously a burden. The rhyme scheme follows a regular  pattern ,with a uniform couplet at the end of each stanza that are used contrastively and complementarily .For example range complements change,  as kiss is referred to in this, while served is what the male-persona gets while the lady gets deserve

  DICTION/VOCABULARY  

One marked feature of the poem is the way the poet uses archaism and neologism in words like newfangleness.A closer look at the diction of the poem entails   effective and ample use of And and but .All these create the effect of laxity in the poem.

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SONNET 61-By Michael Drayton-CRITICAL ANALYSIS

CONTENT

The poem presents the ultimate separation or end of a relationship between two lovers. It is a relationship that is somehow jinxed and separation seems to be the only way out especially for the male-persona, who is bound to gain his freedom as he expresses, ‘I am glad, yea, glad with all my heart’. The belief is that this relationship would be ended without any ill feeling, with the partners still being able to relate platonically. The second part of the poem now draws an analogy or comparison of their love to  a man on the verge of dying who soon recovers.

THEMES

Agony of separation

Immortality of Love

 FORM AND STRUCTURE

In a typical sonnet format, the octave of the poem markedly dwells on the theme of separation and how the male -persona wants the relationship to be thereafter. However, the last sestet conclusively compares their love to a man on the verge of dying, but unexplainably recovers. Interestingly, each part is marked by symbolic words. Since introduces the octave taking the event a bit farther into the past, while Now which does it for the sextet brings the reality of the present situation.

 IMAGERY AND OTHER LITERARY DEVICES/LANGUAGE

The first part of the poem which focuses on separation, without any attendant emotional attachment is mostly expressed in simple and straightforward prose, unlike the situation in the following sextet, where there are ample examples to capture the complexity of what love is, in that, in being minute, fleeting and delicate, it could also be immortal:

…One jot of former love retain

…Last gasp of love’s latest breath

…His pulse failing. Passion speechless lies

…When faith if kneeling by his bed of death

…And innocence is up his eyes.

 The personification of Passion, Faith, Innocence is also effectively done to depict the allies of Love who stay by him until its recovery.

 VOICE,TONE,MOOD,ATMOSPHERE

The poem dilates between major tones, starting with the casual one of the octave and the emotional and melancholy one of the sestet. In the octave, the tone is meant to create a free atmosphere, where separation could be handled without any consequence and this is the sense the poem attempts to create in the glad,yea,glad with all my heart feeling of the persona, which does not sound convincing that the two lovers are really happy to part ways. In introducing and creating an ambiance of death, the poem inevitably brings a sense of sorrow and pensive mood; though one could also see a tint of hope in that love is not vanquished.

 SOUND EFFECTS

The poem is heavily marked by ample application of end-stops in the sestet part of the poem, where incidentally the atmosphere is pensive and heavy. This is however not the situation with the octave part of the poem, which though has a heavy application of caesura and some end-stops, to create a sense of seriousness of the issue at stake. For example, the caesuras in line three-And I am glad, yea, glad with all my heart, are quite effective in drawing attention to being exceedingly happy, which however creates a contrary effect. A sense of heaviness is created in the last sextet.

 DICTION/VOCABULARY

Generally choice of words is simple and this is mostly displayed through the monosyllabic words used. Apart from this, a lot of words are chosen with a sense of time in mind. Such words are since, when, now which set the tone for the octave and sextet etc. It is also interesting to note that some adverbs or linking words are put to effective use in balancing an opinion against another. That is the purpose of words like Now, When, And etc. in the last sextet of the poem.

 8

WRITTEN ON THE NIGHT OF HIS EXECUTION- By Chidiock Tichbourne-CRITICAL ANALYSIS

CONTENT FORM/STRUCTURE

The poem, Written on the Night of His Execution is a personal elegy by Chidiock Tichbourne. Historically, the poet was 28 years old when he was accused of conspiracy against Queen Elizabeth 1 and the penalty is death sentence. The poem therefore is inspired during what is supposed to be his last night before the execution.

The poem is made up 4 stanzas of 6 lines each. It fits aptly into the mould of an elegy, as each stanza echoes the agony of a man on the throes of death. The first stanza opens with the agonizing lamentation of a life cut short in his prime. This is   portrayed as a ‘frost of cares’, which would soon melt away. The same impression is given in the stanza of a wasted life, which at its prime is rendered worthless.

The second stanza follows the same thread, only that this time round, spring as a season, which is supposed to be the most promising and productive, is cut short without reaching its full potentialities.

The last stanza ends on a conclusive note, because this is the only part where death is mentioned with its attendant tone of hopelessness.

THEMES

The poem has a unifying subject matter of a life cut before its prime, without reaching its full potentialities. However, there are some clearly defined themes:

  1. Wastefulness of one’s prime  –

‘My prime of youth is but a frost of cares’

‘My crop of corn is but a field of tares’

  1. Vanity

And all my good is but vain hope of gain’

My feast of joy is but a dish of pain’.

  1. Hopelessness

My life is fled, and yet I saw no sun’.

‘The glass is full, and now my glass is run’

  1. Death

I sought my death

I trod the earth and knew it was my tomb

IMAGERY/OTHER DEVICES

If there is one device on which the entirety of the poem is built, it is definitely imagery, using simple metaphors. (Metaphorical imagery).

The opening imagery is the persona’s life compared to a frost, dish, field of tares etc. All these point to objects of no lasting value. The farming imagery started in stanza one continues to the second one, but now the persona’s fleeting existence is portrayed as spring with the abnormalities of not reaching its potential without producing fruits, yet still green. The imagery of a life cut short is also implied in ‘my thread is cut, and yet it is not spun.’ The rich imagery of the poem becomes more intensified in the last stanza, with ample reference to death, especially the imagery of fertility, in reference to womb and the far-reaching reference to the tomb, a short journey from one to the other-from womb to tomb.

Symbolism is also used in words such as womb, tomb both referring to death as an endemic theme. Glass also depicts the delicacy of life which the persona holds dear, but which unfortunately he is about to   lose. It is also presents an image of an hourglass like an egg timer, through which sand runs from top to bottom in the space of a few minutes. In the same way, the poet knows that because of his youth, he should have years of his life left, but ‘his glass is run’-indication that the sand has passed through.

SOUND EFFECTS

Every line in the poem ends with End-stops which capture the sorrowful and pensive mood in the poem and as such, the tempo of the poem is rather slow. Caesura is also put to effective use, especially in the second and third stanzas of the poem and this is achieved to create a parallelism effect with the conjunction and coming after the caesuras. For example, my thread is cut, and yet it is not spun which creates the effect of a life without any novelty or excitement. If the conjunction, but had been used, a contrary effect would have been created. Alliteration and assonance are also used in the poem to intensify the sense of agony the persona is going through. This is achieved in words like pain and gain/crop and corn. The repetition which comes in, mostly in the last stanza also serves a useful purpose in reference to glass, to accentuate the glaring entrance of death. Lastly, the simple rhyme scheme of ababcc which is mainly alternate and a couplet sets the simple pattern of the poem.

Tone/Mood/Atmosphere

The poem unambiguously presents a typical atmosphere of an elegy with its generic depressing,hopeless,frustrating and sorrowful tone, which is so palpable that the reader that he  could not but feel the agony of a man, on the throes of death. One could also sense the deep regret of opportunities wasted.

Diction/Vocabulary

The poem employs a simple rhyme scheme of a man who is faced with the reality of his death and thus has an uncanny clarity of mind. The words mostly from nature, farming, reproduction are exemplified in words such as frost, corn,spring, womb, shade etc. To probably avoid undue repetition of words, the poem varies the part of speech of some words in life and live, spring and sprung, youth and young. Womb and tomb are also contrastingly applied to create the cyclical nature of human existence, where one follows the natural pattern of a journey from the womb to the tomb. Ample reference to the personal pronoun I and My presents the persona as a man   so consumed by the approach of death, that all he could think about is only himself, a sheer case of survival and self-preservation. Interestingly, there is no reference to anybody, not even a loved one in the poem. The use of but in the first four lines of the first stanza is used to mean ‘just’; a depiction of an ordinary life. And is also put to effective use after every caesura in the poem, to depict a life without anything thing left to anticipate or a life doomed to ordinariness.

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 THE AUTHOR’S EPITAPH MADE BY HIMSELF-By Sir Walter Raleigh-CRITICAL ANALYSIS

CONTENT /FORM/STRUCTURE

The poem is an 8-line poem built round the issue of   Time/life and the various ways it controls human affairs .The personification of time is a tool used to achieve this. The first portrayal is that of a strict guardian, who takes cognizance of every human action and duly rewards one with ageing and death (dust). The next four lines re-echo the same point, but this time round, heralds the final sentence of death. The last line however invokes a refreshing tone of salvation and assurance, which rubbishes the pervading influence of death earlier presented.

THEMES

Omnipotence of Time-Time… takes in trust our youth, our joys…

Mortality and Death-And pays us with age and dust

Vanity-When we have wandered all our ways.

Hope and Resurrection-The Lord shall raise me up, I trust.

DICTION/VOCABULARY

The whole poem incidentally is one whole sum, which could be sung in a breathe. This accentuates its simplicity as it aptly defines the struggle of man with the omnipotent Time. The diction appropriately comes from nature and this shows that nature just like Time is equally all-powerful. Though religion comes in towards the end of the poem in the last line, it rings a lasting influence as the word, Lord has a capital which accentuates its omnipotence even over Time. The diction of the poem complements the sad tone of the poem, with the preponderance of negative words such as age, dust, dark, grave, but the optimistic ambience comes in with words like raise and trust.

TONE/MOOD/ATMOSPHERE

The poem is marked by a pessimistic tone and hopelessness, mingled with a life of vanity. However, the last line sends the last reassuring tone of hope, salvation and resurrection.

SOUND EFFECTS

With an irregular rhyme scheme of abacccaa the confusion and contradiction of human existence is presented. However, the last couplet in the last two lines of the poem introduces some amount of sanity. Run-on-line and enjambment are equally put to effective use in the poem, to complement both the negative and positive connotation of the poem’s diction. Note for example, the enjambment that is thrust on trust and the one that supports the aimlesslesness that characterises human existence in the fifth line. For most lines with end-stops, they are meant to mark the restrictive power and influence of Time. Caesura is equally utilised mostly to draw attention to some key words, so as to arrest the attention of the reader. This is the effect in line two after words like youth, joys, earth, grave and dust in line seven. Repetition of some words such as our is strategic, to create a camaraderie effect of the lot of mankind. Dust’s repetition also marks the resounding influence of death. However, the most significant effect to which the poet puts caesura, could be found in the last line after up. The pause here marks somebody heaving a sigh of relief and with the inversion of the sentence structure, strategically places I trust on a higher pedestal for ultimate attention.

IMAGERY/OTHER LITERARY DEVICES

The personification of Time achieves the effect of giving it some level of omnipotence under which man is rendered almost impotent and abiding. This power is what enables Time to take in trust our youth, our joys etc. This is complemented by symbols such as dust, grave, story etc.

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                                                               A LITANY IN TIME OF PLAGUE-By Thomas Nash-CRITICAL ANALYSIS

CONTENT/FORM/STRUCTURE

The poem is inspired by the Bubonic Plague or Black Death that swept through parts of Asia and Europe in the Middle Ages, killing about one third of the population. Though the poem, A Litany in Time of Plague was written some two hundred years later, the palpable and destructive power of this epidemic was still felt and remains indelible even till Elizabethan times; the time of the poem.

The poem opens with an exclamatory tone – farewell, earth’s bliss, setting the tone for the persona’s sense of disillusionment with human existence. The second stanza focuses on how wealth and even possession of medical skills would not save anybody from the plague. The third focuses on the ephemeral nature of beauty as found in royalty. Physical strength in the fourth stanza is then presented as a thing that could not withstand the plague. Even creativity and human brilliance are not spared, as shown in stanza five. The last stanza ends on a conclusive tone of optimism of a salvation that could only be heralded by a higher power of God’s intervention.  The major themes in the poem that are presented as not being able to withstand the power of the plague are well structured into stanzas one to five.

THEMES

Death- Death proves them all but toys;

Helplessness- None from his darts can fly.

Vanity-Beauty is but a flower

Materialism-Rich men, trust not in wealth, gold cannot buy you health.

Death as leveller-Queens have died young and fair.

Hope and Salvation-Heaven is our heritage…Mount we unto the sky.

IMAGERY/OTHER DEVICES

The first striking imagery in the poem which runs through the entire poem starts from the first stanza, where life and death are personified, the latter as if wielding a bow  whose darts no one could escape. The fleeting nature of most man’s vanities such as beauty is also well captured in the portrayal of beauty as flower, a pointer to its fragility. Even physical raw strength is not spared in the vivid imagery where strength stoops in submission .A metonymy in swords, also exhibits the raw power of strength. The last human vanity to experience the consuming power of death is knowledge, that  would also taste death’s bitterness. Lastly, theatre imagery, an inspiration from Shakespeare’s the world is a stage parlance to show the fleeting existence of man is depicted.  Finally, mount we unto the sky concludes positively and hopefully what has been a pessimistic poem. The poem also uses a lot of symbols to great effect in gold,flower,queen,grave,worms,swords,earth,hell,art,heaven,sky etc.

DICTION/VOCABULARY

The diction is generally simple as it shows man in his most vulnerable stage, with no room for rhetoric or elaborate use of language. This is shown in its direct and blatant address to the reader, with the presentation of the subjects of the verses introducing every expression without being inverted. For example Death proves them, Gold cannot buy you health. Symbols also add some character to the poem, allowing economy of expression, which are mostly drawn from nature. One factor that one could not miss in the poem is the negative and dark connotation of most of the words as they vividly portray the portentous sway of death in words like sick, die, fade, plague, wrinkles, etc. Classical allusions in words like Helen, Hector, the legendary Greek hero and heroine, known for their beauty and bravery, further accentuate the height of human attainments, which could still not withstand the firepower of death. However on an optimistic conclusion, the poem resorts to religious diction, especially of Christian religion in words such as heaven, Lord etc. Note also the ample use of personal pronoun I which further extends the agony of a personal experience, though with universal effect on the reader.

SOUND EFFECTS

The poem is effectively marked by ample use of end-stops, caesuras to accentuate the level of mourning and supplication in the poem. However, in the fifth stanza where there is a reference to intellectual power, the poem probably makes allowance for the laxity associated with intellectual freedom, by allowing some enjambment. Caesuras are also pungent in the refrain, I am sick, I must die, which presents a state of helplessness and surrender. However, the poem also presents the state of exasperation and helplessness with the use of exclamations at the end of each stanza. The refrain which appears at the end of each stanza is also significant in re-echoing the purpose of the poem, which is to supplicate. The couplet which runs through the poem and the deviation in the last line give the poem a simple rhythm.

TONE/MOOD/ATMOSPHERE

Being an elegy, the poem characteristically creates a mournful atmosphere and tone which run through the entire poem. It starts on a casual tone of hopelessness in the affairs of this world, occasioned by the prevalence of the epidemic. In the second stanza, the tone however gets instructive, philosophical and even didactic as it begins to lecture on what man’s true values ought to be, not necessarily beauty, wealth, knowledge or power, but hope of afterlife. The refrain at the end of each stanza takes the persona’s salvation from the hands of death, and puts it in the hands of a higher being; God. The last stanza also takes on a different tone, this time round not presenting his vulnerable state, but a higher spiritual level, where he is invincible against the power of death, but the interjection of I am sick ,I must die, Lord, have mercy  remind him once again of his mortality.

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SONG: GO, LOVELY ROSE! By Edmund Waller-CRITICAL ANALYSIS

CONTENT

The male-persona is holding a rose flower in his hands, which he plans to send to his lover. He begins to speak to it as if to convey his deepest feelings to her. The first message is to convey his appreciation of her beauty and at the same time reminding her implicitly that sweetness and beauty are ephemeral. The second stanza gets a bit distant as it admonishes his lover not to be over- protective of her beauty, so that she does not die unappreciated if she does not reciprocate the attention of the persona. The third stanza re-echoes the theme of the earlier stanza using the imagery of an object far from the illumination of light. The last stanza ends on an exasperating note with a warning that things that are rare and are unappreciated die and such fate may be the lot of the coy lady .The rose is to remind the young lady of her mortality when it withers and dies not long after she receives it. She will thus be reminded of her mortality and that she ought to take advantage of the pleasures of life before time steals her youth and sends her to her grave.

THEMES

Appreciation of beauty

Mortality

Brevity of Life

FORM AND STRUCTURE

…….“Go, Lovely Rose” is lyric poem with four quatrains (four-line stanzas) in which the speaker addresses a rose he is sending to a young lady. It was first published in 1645 in Poems, a Collection of Waller’s Works. It is among the most famous and most admired short poems in English literature. The first stanza is a direct address to the rose which is to be sent to the lady-persona. The second stanza gets more indicting as it describes the isolation that awaits somebody who shuns the attention of men. The same tone continues in the third stanza. The last stanza conclusively ends on an exasperating tone.

IMAGERY AND OTHER LITERARY DEVICES

Rose flower stands out as the central symbolism of the poem which the persona uses to depict all that his lady-lover stands for. The rose represents beauty, fragility and brevity. The personification of the rose is ably done through apostrophe as the persona addresses the inanimate rose as if being sent on an errand. The imagery of a lone flower in the desert is quite effective in conveying a sense of isolation of a beauty wasted. The same effect is created in the third stanza where beauty is imagined being far from illumination which reduces its appreciation and value.

 VOICE,TONE,MOOD,ATMOSPHERE

The eagerness in the tone of the persona who is in love, is depicted in the manner he sends the rose on this errand. The tone is romantic as he recognises her beauty and praises it. In the second stanza, the tone becomes more distant and impersonal as he utters, ‘Tell her that’s young’. In comparing the coyness of the lady to a lone flower in the desert, it gets more indicting. In the third stanza, it becomes obvious that the whole essence of the poem is to persuade and one could just sympathize with a man whose love advances have been rebuffed by the lady he is in love with. It is with this tone of exasperation and frustration that the poem ends with the finality-induced tone, ‘Then die! ‘Though the poem still manages to end on a romantic tone of the fairness of his lover’s worth and beauty.

SOUND EFFECTS

The poem has an almost equal distribution of enjambments and run-on-lines and the reason is understandable. The persona’s mood swings between exasperation and persuasion, mixed with deep lounging. This passion of love unreciprocated is often seen in the exclamations used in the poem .The emotive part of the poem is also enhanced by the repetition especially in Tell her, which is a warning tone. The racy motion of the poem is enhanced by minimal use of caesuras. However, the sad and reflective mood of the persona is aptly supported by the end-stops. The poem employs a regular rhyme scheme; ababb throughout this brings a sort of unity to the poem as the poem dwells on just one subject -matter.

 DICTION/VOCABULARY

The diction is simple, starting from the single love symbolism of the rose to the address-like, didactic format of the poem. The poem is highly dramatic to convey the agony of the persona. Though he is addressing the inanimate flower, he probably holds in his hand, it is as if he is also directly addressing the lady too. The action verbs in the poem such as go, tell, bid etc., help in this regard. The exclamation marks also support this.

 

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NO CROOKED LEG,NO BLEARED EYE-By Queen Elizabeth

 CONTENT/FORM/STRUCTURE

This is an epigram, typically defined as a short witty poem. It is a whole four line poem. It is built on a comparison between human; its appendages leg, eye and ‘the inward suspicious mind’ .The background of the poem is quite instructive in that it presents life in a typical Victorian court, notorious for its power play, treachery, betrayal etc. The poem simply states that no amount of deformity in any part of human body could be compared to the treachery of suspicion which is something no one could see.

 THEMES

Intrigue

Suspicion

 IMAGERY AND OTHER LITERARY DEVICES

The symbolism and synecdoche of human body are used and this points to the polity or a state.  References are made to crooked leg and bleared eye which are effectively employed in the poem to depict the masses, while eye refers to the court assistants and their decadence and corruption. Yet, all these are incomparable in their deformity to the guile of human  mind. The poem aptly compares what is obvious to the eyes and the hidden mind.

 VOICE, TONE, MOOD, ATMOSPHERE

The tone is basically negative, instructive and didactic .

 SOUND EFFECTS

The whole poem is captured as a statement and as such should be taken in a breathe. However to emphasize the negative things being compared with mind, the poem employs caesura to define crooked leg, bleared eye. This is the same effect achieved by the end-stops at the end of lines one and two. The enjambment in the third line moves swiftly to inward suspicious mind, which is the twist of the poem. The irregular rhyme scheme of abcb underlies the conflict and the wide gap between the two comparisons.

 DICTION/VOCABULARY

The simplicity of the poem is in that it is a mere statement which draws inspiration from human body, which could symbolically represent a nation or state. The vivid imagery used accentuates the height of ugliness depicted in the deformity of human body and this draws attention to man as the source of discord in any society.

 

FROM UNDERWOOD-By Ben Jonson

Content/Form/Structure

 Historically, Ben Jonson’s son died in childhood, aged 7 or 8.This poem is part of expression of his grief for his beloved son’s short life and self-comfort that a life does not have to be a long one to have beauty and perfection.

Starting on a negative tone, the poem arrests the attention of the reader with the opening line of a successful life not being judged by longevity and size in specific reference to oak tree, which is presumed not to have much economic value apart from its longevity. Eventually, the end result would be to die ‘dry, bald and sere’. The fifth line in contrast to the first line opens on a positive tone presenting contrastingly, a lily of a day to the oak tree earlier mentioned. Instead of living for three hundred years, this flower lives for a day and found only in summer. Though it dies like the oak, yet it has an enduring memory of its value because of its beauty, thus called, ‘flower of light’. The last two lines conclusively and didactically exhort the value of small proportion.

 Themes

Brevity of life-A lily of a day

Definition of beauty-A lily of a day is fairer far in May.

Small proportion-it is not growing like a tree in bulk.

Imagery/Other Devices

The poem employs simple imagery in simile and in some metaphors. The two main objects; oak tree and lily flower compared, are related to human existence in the following ways: it is not growing like a tree/a lily of a day/flower of light.

Diction/Vocabulary

The diction is simple and the consequence is a simple poem uttered in a breathe of a simple comparison of two objects, an oak tree and a lily and how they relate to human existence. Interestingly, the words are picked from nature especially plants. The division of the poem in terms of tone is also reflected in the diction. For example, lines one to four have words with negative connotation, while from line five to the end  the tone is lightened, the diction being positive .(see Tone/Mood/Atmosphere section below)

Tone/Mood/Atmosphere

The tone of the poem and the atmosphere created can be divided into two sections. The first four lines which have a negative opening, which  describes an oak tree with its attendant downside in words like fall,log,dry,bald,sere ,which reflect on the sad tone.Incidentally,from the fifth line to the end of the poem, the tone becomes more exciting and positive starting from the opening line, A lily of a day. The diction here also begins to reflect the change in atmosphere, tone and mood as found in words like fairer, May, flower of light,beauties,perfect.

Sounds

The poem moves at a fast tempo because it is actually uttered in one breathe. However, the first four lines with some amount of negative diction have the only caesuras in the poem. Contrarily, from line five to the end of the poem, there is a smooth ride of excitement and this explains the dearth of  caesuras .However, the end-stops in most lines of the poems help to confer some amount of reflective atmosphere on it. The alliterative sound ‘a’ in line four helps to further accentuate something  hard and dry and without life. The simplicity of the poem is also enhanced by couplets that run through it.

 

SONNET 19-By Lady Mary Wroth.

Content/Form/Structure

The poem employs the departure of summer and the entrance of winter to reflect his own sorrowful condition. In the first quatrain, he invites ‘darkest night’ because that is what suits his emotional state. The next quatrain presents the condition of plants towards the end of summer and the coming of autumn that are already mourning with brown leaves and singing a dirge in lamentation. The following quatrain shows the fallen leaves that form the carpet for the departure of summer, as evident even more in trees with ‘naked bodies’. The last two lines end on a conclusive tone of relating the persona’s experience to his surroundings.

Subject/Theme

Passage of summer

Imagery/Other Devices

The poem has an invocative tone with its invitation of ‘darkest night’ and the call for light’s departure which are symbolic of all that winter represents. It is through the personification of plants and trees that the sorrow that dominates the poem is given more pungency-the very trees hanging heads condole/leaves distressed/in dying colours. The introduction of auditory imagery in make a grief-ful roll adds some variety to the sorrow, occasioned by the approaching winter. The imagery of the dead leaves forming the carpet presents it as the agent that gracefully ushers it out and welcomes the approaching autumn. The next sets of imagery show more the agony that envelopes humanity, because of the departure of summer, leaving everything vulnerable. This is depicted in the ‘naked bodies’. All nature represented in tree and leaves thus become ‘mourners’.

Diction/Vocabulary

The diction present vividly the level of sorrow left behind by the departing summer in negative connotative words– darkest night, sorrow, darkness, dying colours etc. By personalising the experience in the poem, the persona is able to relate how nature and man could feel a loss. The fact that most words are also picked from nature especially plants also helps to show the importance of nature and how whatever affects nature also affects humans, extensively employing personification to achieve this.

Tone/Mood/Atmosphere

The poem begins on a despondent tone of the persona defying the loss he feels, as  he seems to have already resigned himself to the reality of his condition.-He blatantly states ‘Darkness doth truly suit with me oppressed’ ’The sense of sorrow and agony that pervade the world is marked in the description of the plants that are already dying. This sense of sadness and melancholy seems to envelope the tone in the poem.

Sounds

Being a poem in the mould of an elegy, the mood is slow and sluggish and the effect that achieves this is the application of end-stops and caesuras. Incidentally, the only deviation to the end-stops is found in lines 5, 6 and 11, where they are mainly applied to depict motion of sort. For example, the changing of leaf colours which denote change and ‘fade’ at the end of line 11, also conveys a sort of transition which the enjambment aids. Caesura is also put to effective use to convey the sense of heaviness felt by the persona which is infectious .The alliteration of l in the second line conveys sense of lightness and speed, with which summer is fast receding .The same effect is achieved in the Sweet summer of the sixth line. The onomatopoeic make a grief-ful roll is effective in presenting the all-embracing presence of the effect of summer’s departure, especially the mournful songs from plants.

 15

The Flowers That on the Banks and Walks Did Grow-

By Aemilia Lanyer

Content /Form/Structure

The historical background of the poem could be linked to the poet’s personal life. She is alleged to have stayed with Margaret Clifford, the Countess of Cumberland, who lived in Cookham. (The setting of the poem).Being her benefactress,Lanyer appears to be obliged to her somewhat, considering the period of her stay being the happiest of her  life. In this poem, which takes the form of an elegy, Lanyer paints a picture of a garden and the house bereft of its owner , now mourning the demise of Margret Clifford.

The poem succinctly uses the deplorable state of a garden, which is  likened to the passage of summer and the entrance of winter to present the kind of impact such incident could have on a lot of beings; both living and non-living. The flowers are the first to feel this impact by creeping in fright .Winds and waters get chilled and literally frozen. Birds too are not left, out as they could not twit  as they used to do. They now ‘warble forth sorrow’. The scenery and vegetation also feel the effect of this phenomenon. Even celestial bodies such as the potent sun, ’grew weak’. The last object of nature mentioned are brier and bramble, known for their toughness, which could only desperately hold and ‘caught fast’ the clothes of summer. The house is not left 0ut as it joins in the mourning. The last part of the poem succinctly mentions its overall purpose, which is to celebrate the passage of a friend called Cookham and this could be best achieved through the composition of this poem, which is an obligation to create an eternal connection between the persona and Cookham.

 

Themes

Passage of Time/Death and its effects such as desolation, mortality and immortality.

 

Form and Structure

The poem has one singular theme cum subject, which is to illustrate the desolation of the garden presented with its attendant effect of sorrow. It is this sole goal that unifies the whole poem. However, on a closer look, one could discern a progression of issues such as the sorry state of the plants in the garden, the brooks and the birds until it gets to the house, which slowly introduces the readers to the humans in the poem. Finally, the objective of the poem is succinctly revealed in its commemorative celebration of Cookham. The humanity of the poem is thus established for example with the proliferation of personal pronouns.

Imagery and Other Literary Devices,

The strength of the poem is mainly built on the poet creating a highly vivid setting which is the garden that aptly represents nature. The ample application of personification on the flowers, grass, winds, waters, brooks creates the height of sorrow that nature could experience upon the passage of the person being eulogised in the poem. It is this effect, which creates a morbid sense of agony, that  presents the poem in the mould of an elegy. Animal too are not spared in ‘those pretty birds’ that ‘warble forth’. The zenith of this sense of pervading sorrow is however stated in the potent sun, who ‘grew weak’. Another pungent imagery is the action of the inanimate house, ‘who cast off each garment’. One should also not discountenance the underlying contrast of a happy state before the desolation sets in. This is the impression given in, ‘Those pretty birds that wonted were to sing’. In their former idyllic state, they were happy until the pervading decay of the present situation. Lastly, in celebrating the virtue of a friend whom this poem is dedicated to, the persona also celebrates the enduring power of arts, which is the only thing that could truly immortalise Cookham. It is presented thus: Tying my heart to her by those rich chains. By and large, the success of the imagery in the poem is mostly achieved when one considers the effect of the loss on these inanimate objects. If they could feel this way, one could only imagine the effect on humans.

Sound Effects

It is not by accident that the whole poem is built round a series of rhyming couplets, which further cements the singular topic of desolation caused  by the demise of Cookham. However, most of the couplets as in Augustan poetry are either used complementarily or contrastingly. For example the first couplet of grow and woe complements each other contrastingly, t0 create an effect of a positive growth, which would soon be truncated by an impending woe. Customarily, the poem is fully accentuated by a lot of caesuras and end-stops which slows the tempo of the poem, giving it an elegiac movement, apart from drawing the reader’s attention to some subjects. This is the intention in a line like: Each arbour, bank, each seat, each stately tree. Some repetitions in the poem also bring out the minuteness of each subject, that feels the pervading desolation of the poem. This is the intention in each arbour…each seat… each stately tree… (Line 13) and each brier, each bramble… (Line 19)

Tone

The poem is unmistakably elegiac  with interjections of eulogising  .However, the last six  lines cleverly vary the tone by personalising the subject-matter , drawing attention to the personality of Cookham and in doing this, this poem gives a little vista of hope of immortality, that though they would be separated physically, yet they are irrevocably connected by ‘those rich chains.

Diction/Vocabulary

The diction and vocabulary of the poem follows the pattern of the imagery in many ways. Apart from most words being picked from nature, they are also connotatively dark and negative in concord with the mood of the poem. The richness of the poem in terms of diction is also enhanced by a lot of epithets giving vivid details to most descriptions. Some examples are sweet brooks and pretty birds. The introduction of classical allusions in Philomela and Echo further gives some level of solemnity to the poem in consonance with its general mood. The distant tone of the earlier part of the poem contrasts with the introduction of personal pronouns in the last six lines of the poem, thereby presenting the touching agony of the persona, apart from finally introducing the main subject of the poem. This further presents a relationship between the persona and Cookham which transcends the terrestrial.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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