Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Shape--> "My Body"

"My Body"
(Example #3)

Overall, I thought this poem had a negative tone. The speaker describes their body as "an outward visual caption". I agree that looks do not define who a person is, but their is a negative undertone in this description. It leads me to believe he or she does not like their body or the way people see them.

This thought is later backed up when the speaker admits they "sometimes hide." It is possible that the speaker has appearance issues. I also found this line ironic because it is hard to hide from everyone. Sooner or later, you have to converse with strangers and it will be impossible to hide forever.

The last lines confused me. "What you see is what you will get" could mean that the speaker has given up complaining about their body or that they have accepted the way they look. Besides the fact that this poem is in the shape of a body, I do not think it lends any meaning to the poem as a whole.

After analyzing the literary terms for this poem, I understood it better. The cacophony of "walking representation" and "outward visual caption" shows the discordance the speaker has with their body at the beginning of the poem. However, the euphony of "what you see is what you will get" shows the acceptance the speaker has with their body.

Sesperian Sonnet --> Edmund Spenser

"One Day I Wrote Her Name Upon the Strand"

One day I wrote her name upon the strand
One day I wrote her name upon the strand,
But came the waves and washed it away:
Again I wrote it with a second hand,
But came the tide and made my pains his prey.
Vain man (said she), that dost in vain assay
A mortal thing so to immortalise;
For I myself shall like to this decay,
And eke my name be wiped out likewise.
Not so (quod I); let baser things devise
To die in dust, but you shall live by fame;
My verse your virtues rare shall eternise,
And in the heavens write your glorious name:
Where, whenas death shall all the world subdue,
Our love shall live, and later life renew.

The Sesperian Sonnet has three quatrains and a concluding couplet written in iambic pentameter with the rhyme scheme abab bcbd cdcd ee.

The first thing I noticed about this poem was the repition of the first line. This anaphora shows that the speaker feels attached to this memory and values this woman. He later goes on to say that the tide "made my pains his prey." This shows that he is angry with God for enjoying his pain. This may represent the discontent Spenser has with his religion.

The dialogue between the man and woman shows that they will love each other forever. The woman says she shall "like this decay", meaning she will soon grow old. The man replies that she shall "live by fame" and their love shall live in the heavens forever.

The enjambment between lines nine and ten shows the fascination the speaker has with his lover. He does not want to speak to soon. Instead, he wishes to take time in order to respond correctly.

The purpose of this poem is to show that true love lasts forever.

"The Chimney Sweeper" by William Blake --> Dramatic Monologue

"The Chimney Sweeper"

When my mother died I was very young,
And my father sold me while yet my tongue
Could scarcely cry 'weep! 'weep! 'weep! 'weep!
So your chimneys I sweep, and in soot I sleep.

There's little Tom Dacre, who cried when his head,
That curled like a lamb's back, was shaved: so I said,
"Hush, Tom! never mind it, for when your head's bare,
You know that the soot cannot spoil your white hair."

And so he was quiet; and that very night,
As Tom was a-sleeping, he had such a sight, -
That thousands of sweepers, Dick, Joe, Ned, and Jack,
Were all of them locked up in coffins of black.

And by came an angel who had a bright key,
And he opened the coffins and set them all free;
Then down a green plain leaping, laughing, they run,
And wash in a river, and shine in the sun.

Then naked and white, all their bags left behind,
They rise upon clouds and sport in the wind;
And the angel told Tom, if he'd be a good boy,
He'd have God for his father, and never want joy.

And so Tom awoke; and we rose in the dark,
And got with our bags and our brushes to work.
Though the morning was cold, Tom was happy and warm;
So if all do their duty they need not fear harm.

The first thing I noticed about this poem was the contrasting images of dark and light. The speaker and Tom work in dark conditions, covered in soot. However, when they die, they will be "naked and white". Although the coffins are black, the key is "bright" and they will find happiness in heaven.

These images of clouds, angels, and god allude to religion. Through this, Blake says that although one may suffer in life, heaven will bring internal peace and happiness.

There is a use of figurative language in the line "curled like a lamb's back". This simile connects Tom's hair to a baby animal, which shows his innocence and exposes the innocence of all child laborers. This innocence is also exposed by the euphemism used in the line "locked up in coffins of black." Instead of saying that the children died, Blake puts it in kinder words.

Through this poem, Blake is saying that dreams are what make the hardships of life tolerable.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Carolyn Kizer

"Parent's Pantoum" by Carolyn Kizer

"Parent's Pantoum" by Carolyn Kizer

Where did these enormous children come from,
More ladylike than we have ever been?
Some of ours look older than we feel.
How did they appear in their long dresses

More ladylike than we have ever been?
But they moan about their aging more than we do,
In their fragile heels and long black dresses.
They say they admire our youthful spontaneity.

They moan about their aging more than we do,
A somber group--why don't they brighten up?
Though they say they admire our youthful spontaneity
They beg us to be dignified like them

As they ignore our pleas to brighten up.
Someday perhaps we'll capture their attention
Then we won't try to be dignified like them
Nor they to be so gently patronizing.

Someday perhaps we'll capture their attention.
Don't they know that we're supposed to be the stars?
Instead they are so gently patronizing.
It makes us feel like children--second-childish?

Perhaps we're too accustomed to be stars.
The famous flowers glowing in the garden,
So now we pout like children. Second-childish?
Quaint fragments of forgotten history?

Our daughters stroll together in the garden,
Chatting of news we've chosen to ignore,
Pausing to toss us morsels of their history,
Not questions to which only we know answers.

Eyes closed to news we've chosen to ignore,
We'd rather excavate old memories,
Disdaining age, ignoring pain, avoiding mirrors.
Why do they never listen to our stories?

Because they hate to excavate old memories
They don't believe our stories have an end.
They don't ask questions because they dread the answers.
They don't see that we've become their mirrors,

We offspring of our enormous children.

The pantoum is composed of quatrains where usually the second and fourth line of each stanza are repeated as the first and third of the next stanza. The meanings of the lines change with shifting punctuation even the the words remain the same. The pantoum is known for subtle shifts in meaning through the shifting punctuation and therefore new context.

In the first stanza, the speaker clearly adores their children and is in awe of how much they have grown and their accomplishments. In stanzas two and three, the tone focuses towards slight bitterness. Kizer asks "why don't they brighten up?" The line "they beg us to be defined like them" hints that Kizer resents the embarressment her children feel when she tells them to "brighten up."

Stanza four introduces a middle way that will make Kizer and her children happy, as the children stop "patronizing" and parents become "defined like them". Stanzas six and seven introduce the fact that the children will soon separate from their parents and rely on them less and less. They will "pause to toss morsels of their history" towards their parents, but that is all.

In the last two stanzas, Kizer states that the children do not understand what they will become in the future. The parents are the children's "future mirrors". Kizer uses metonymy, a part for the whole, to show that mirrors represent the future. The last line suggests that children raise their parents as much as the other way around.

The overall scansion of the pantoum has meaning within itself. The repitition of lines in different contexts give different meanings.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Villanelle --> "Mad Girl's Love Song" by Sylvia Plath

"Mad Girl's Love Song" by Sylvia Plath

I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead;
I lift my lids and all is born again.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

The stars go waltzing out in blue and red,
And arbitrary darkness gallops in:
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

I dreamed that you bewitched me into bed
And sung me moon-struck, kissed me quite insane.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

God topples from the sky, hell's fires fade:
Exit seraphim and Satan's men:
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

I fancied you'd return the way you said.
But I grow old and I forget your name.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

I should have loved a thunderbird instead;
At least when spring comes they roar back again.
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

Usually, the villanelle is composed of five tercets and a concluding quatrain. It has no set of syllables per line and has a pattern of only two rhymes. These rhymes are marked by the alternating refrain which first appears in the first and third lines of the initial tercet. The refrain lines in this poem are "I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead" and "I think I made you up inside my head". They alternate to end each tercet and both are at the end of the quartet.

The repition of the refrain lines shows the internal struggle in the narrator's head. Everything makes sense when her eyes are closed, but her dreams are the only thing she wants to live for. The cacophony of "arbitrary darkness gallops in" shows the discontent the narrator has with her disconnection with reality. This line does not flow and has a harsh discordance of sound. However, when the narrator speaks about her lover, euphony is used. She dreams that her lover "sung [her] moonstruck, kissed [her] quite insance." These pleasant-sounding combination of words shows the narrators longing for a true love.

The narrator also uses metaphors to exaggerate her longing for true love. On line 10, "God topples from the sky" and "hell's fires fade". Of course, none of this actually happens but the narrator is voicing her pain in acknowledging that her obsession is not real.

What do you think Plath is trying to say by alternating "I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead" and "I think I made you up inside my head" at the end of each stanza?

Thursday, February 5, 2009

"Here I Am" by Roger McGough

McGough was born in Liverpool in 1937. He is part of a comedy group which performs songs that McGough writes many of the lyrics for. He is responsible for some dialogue in the film "Yellow Submarine" but was not given credit for it. He is known as a jokester and has made many mockumentaries.

"Here I Am" is found on page 1046 of the Norton.

The brevity of the line "Here I am" at the beginning of the poem voices McGough's unhappiness with the emptiness of his life. The messiness of the first eight lines of the poem show that McGough is confused and has a lot of thoughts regarded his inaction in life. There is no controlled order or external form to these lines.

Lines 9-14 in line with each other shows all he wished he had accomplished. On line 15, he repeats the line "Here I am." It shows that after all the oppurtunities he has missed, his is accepting of the life he has chosen. The further down the lines go the smaller they get, which signifies the sadness and emptiness he is feeling due to the fact that there is no substance to his life.

The two separate lines of "here I am" act as a belt to the bulging thoughts of his missed oppurtunities. At the end of the poem, McGough admits his life is "pretty dull" with a humorous tone. The last two lines of the poem have a lighter tone than the rest of the poem.

This shows that although he was not able to live his life to the fullest, he is still happy with himself. Although he may not have been able to do everything, he still accepts the choices he made.
- What do you think the poem is shaped like? How is it significant to its meaning?