Questions tagged [interpretation]

Questions asking for general, open-ended, interpretation of a text. Use this tag if you want answers that address all and any aspects of the text: its meaning, atmosphere, style, images, structure, references, context, and so on. Best used on short texts only.

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What does this mean about the interpretation of Lauretta's song at the end of Day 3?

At the end of Day 3 of the Decameron, Lauretta sings the following song after dinner, at the request of the new "king" Filostrato: What dame disconsolate May so lament as I, That vainly ...
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5 stages of grief in An Inspector Calls

Would it make sense if inspector Goole was a relative of Eva and we are in his mind as he goes through the five stages of grief? This does not mean that he goes through these five stages in order but ...
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2 answers
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How can A. A. Milne's "The Dormouse and the Doctor" poem be interpreted?

I've been reading When We Were Very Young by A. A. Milne and stumbled upon this beautiful poem, "The Dormouse and the Doctor". I would really appreciate if somebody could explain to me in ...
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3 votes
1 answer
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Thomas Moore’s “Copy of an Intercepted Despatch”

Thomas Moore’s poem ‘Copy of an Intercepted Despatch’ was first published in The Times (July 1826) and collected in Odes Upon Cash, Corn, Catholics and Other Matters (1828), from which I quote the ...
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2 votes
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Emily Jane Pfeiffer’s “Klytemnestra”

‘Klytemnestra’ is the title of a pair of sonnets by Emily Jane Pfeiffer, first published in The Contemporary Review (June 1878), page 544. In this question I’m asking about the first sonnet, quoted in ...
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Interpretation of "Mockingbird" by Charles Bukowski

This is the poem "Mockingbird" by Charles Bukowski, first published in Mockingbird Wish Me Luck (1972): the mockingbird had been following the cat all summer mocking mocking mocking teasing ...
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1 vote
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John P Portelli, "Upwards I Surge"

This question seeks an analysis of John P. Portelli's very short poem "Nog la 'L Fuq" / "Upwards I Surge" (1977), originally written in Maltese and included with an English ...
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Does Georg Heym's poem Louis Capet betray a specific political orientation?

The German poet Georg Heym was an important representative of expressionism. Wikipedia tells us that he was a member of the short-lived society or club Der Neue Club: Other members of this Club ...
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5 votes
1 answer
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What do the saint, the angel, the musician and the sandalwood refer to in Mallarmé's poem Sainte?

Stéphane Mallarmé was a major symbolist poet. One of his poems is Sainte (available on Wikisource). On the surface, it talks about musical instruments, a sandalwood tree, religious ceremonies, an ...
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Based on what connections between the two novellas in Coetzee's Dusklands is that book considered a novel?

In the meta question How do we deal with tags in composite works such as the Bible? verbose asked, J. M. Coetzee's Dusklands comprises two novellas, The Vietnam Project and The Narrative of Jacobus ...
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How does Hardy's The Mayor of Casterbridge represent the notion of self-conflict?

How does Thomas Hardy's novel The Mayor of Casterbridge (1886) represent the notion of self-conflict? I am looking for an analysis based on psychoanalytic literary criticism. Note: The question How ...
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3 votes
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Actual meaning of Shakespeare's sonnet 30

Sonnet 30 is commonly believed to be talking aboutt 'How Shakespeare's mood gets lifted when he thinks of his friend' (common believed to be fair youth). So while reading on the topic I came across an ...
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Valzhyna Mort's "it's so hard to believe"

The poem "it's so hard to believe" by the Belarusian poet Valzhyna Mort can be found here both in the original Belarusian and in an English translation. According to my reading, the poem ...
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4 votes
2 answers
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Analysis of "While I speak God's law, I will not crack its voice with whimpering."

In The Crucible, during act 4 (Danforth's monologue), he says While I speak God's law, I will not crack its voice with whimpering. When looking at this quote the only technique I can see is ...
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John Agard's "In Times of Peace"

As for eyes, are eyes ready for the soft dance of a butterfly's bootless invasion? From "In times of peace" by John Agard. What could this mean? I have been thinking that it could reflect ...
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4 votes
1 answer
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Meaning behind “Where Once The Waters Of Your Face“

I recently read a poem called “Where Once The Waters Of Your Face” by Dylan Thomas. What does it mean? I feel there are a lot of terms related to sailing but I’m not sure I understand it completely. ...
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Robert Ronnow's "East Harlem to the Grand Tetons"

Robert Ronnow has a lot of poetry on his website, and this question is about "East Harlem to the Grand Tetons", a poem from his collection Brother Death, which the poet makes freely ...
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Analyzing Thomas Mcguane's "Balloons"

Recently, The New Yorker came out with Thomas Mcguane's short story "Balloons". It is a short piece of fiction, really. However, it wasn't clear to me what the author intended to convey ...
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6 votes
1 answer
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Edna St. Vincent Millay's "Figs from Thistles: First Fig"

Edna St. Vincent Millay's very short poem "Figs from Thistles: First Fig" goes as follows: My candle burns at both ends;    It will not last the night; But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends—  ...
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1 vote
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Walter Malone's "The World is My Home"

Walter Malone's poem "The World is My Home" is, on the face of it, openly a plea for humanity to come together as one united brotherhood rather than engage in disputes and wars: Travel to ...
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2 votes
1 answer
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William Ernest Henley's "Invictus"

I am not able to understand William Ernest Henley's poem "Invictus" properly, except the last two lines. Can someone explain in detail the meaning of this poem? Out of the night that covers ...
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0 votes
2 answers
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What is the central summary of "Erlkönig"?

I was listening to Franz Schubert’s musical concert of "Erlkönig", and the music was perfect. The lyrics were quite plain and simple, but why is it so famous? I read the poem, heard Schubert ...
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1 vote
1 answer
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How can pleasant thoughts bring sad thoughts to the mind?

“Lines Written in the Early Spring” is English Romantic poet William Wordsworth’s meditation on the harmony of nature and on humanity’s failure to follow nature’s peaceful example. However, in the ...
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2 votes
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Is there an anti-semitic subtext in Roald Dahl's The Witches?

I read this article which suggested that Roald Dahl's The Witches is basically a work of anti-Semitism. Now I am aware of Roald's own apparent/alleged anti-Semitism but this is a question specifically ...
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Ko Un's "Around Unmun Temple at Ch'Eongdo"

Ko Un's poem "Around Unmun Temple at Ch'Eongdo" can be read, in its English translation by Sunny Jung (and Hillel Schwartz?), at the Poetry Foundation website. There's a lot to unpack in ...
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What are the poetic devices used in this poem and how do they relate to its meaning?

What are the poetic devices (tone, imagery etcetera) used in this poem and how do they contribute to the poem's overall theme? I would appreciate an answer based on a close reading of the text. ...
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"Walking to Work" by Frank O'Hara

I'm looking for any insight on the poem "Walking to Work" (1952) by Frank O'Hara. I feel like the meanings are just escaping me, and I can't find any analysis on the Internet to support/...
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6 votes
2 answers
326 views

Louise Glück's "Vespers"

The poem "Vespers" (reproduced in full at the linked page, and in the revision history of this post) comes from The Wild Iris, a 1992 book of poetry written by Louise Glück, the 2020 winner ...
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4 votes
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Emily Jane Pfeiffer’s “To the Blind Architect of the City of Life”

Emily Jane Pfeiffer’s sonnet ‘To the Blind Architect of the City of Life, whose Humble Homes are the Creatures of Earth, Water, and Air, and whose “Meeting-House” is Man’ was first published in Littel’...
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3 votes
1 answer
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"The Laburnum Top" by Ted Hughes - poem explanation

I want to know the line by line explanation of the poem "The Laburnum Top" (written by Ted Hughes). Source (Page 31) The Laburnum top is silent, quite still In the afternoon yellow ...
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2 votes
0 answers
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Julia Wong Kcomt, "The Red Rooster"

The Chinese-Peruvian poet Julia Wong Kcomt wrote two poems for Words Without Borders about her experiences as a product of two different cultures. I'm particularly interested in the first of them, ...
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25 votes
2 answers
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Bilbo’s song of Eärendil in “The Fellowship of the Ring”

In The Fellowship of the Ring, the character Bilbo Baggins recites a poem beginning with these lines: Eärendil was a mariner that tarried in Arvernien; he built a boat of timber felled in Nimbrethil ...
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-4 votes
1 answer
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In how many ways can you interpret this haiku poem? [closed]

What may be the possible (hidden) interpretations of this poem (written by me), which uses a form of Japanese poetry called 'haiku'? a filled bow, stretched with zest- the smile flies How would the ...
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1 vote
1 answer
537 views

Interpretation of “ Time as a stuff can be wasted” in Sandburg's A Father to His Son

In the poem A Father to His Son, the poet says, "Time as a stuff can be wasted'. In most of the summaries of this poem, it is mentioned that the poet says that time can be wasted as if the poet ...
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0 votes
1 answer
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Who is Tich Miller? What has happened to her? Why was this poem written about her?

My literature homework about poetry involves the poem 'Tich Miller' of Wendy Cope. it is as follows: Tich Miller wore glasses with elastoplast-pink frames and had one foot three sizes larger ...
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2 votes
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Why did Raymond Williams always take the best ones?

In "Sever" from the Karate album Unsolved (2000), we can hear the following lines: Because in my life there was only asbestos And Raymond Williams, you always took the best ones Now, like ...
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3 votes
2 answers
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Relationship between title and protagonist's fate in Tolstoy's God Sees the Truth, but Waits

I went through Tolstoy's story God Sees the Truth, But Waits but I wonder what the title suggests and how it suits the story in regard to the protagonist Aksionov. A good innocent man is wrongly ...
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8 votes
2 answers
422 views

Edgar Allan Poe's "Alone"

The short poem "Alone" by Edgar Allan Poe was written in 1829 or 1830, when he was a young man, but only published in 1875 long after his death. Its full text is as follows: From childhood’s hour I ...
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3 votes
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Marianne Moore’s ‘Four Quartz Crystal Clocks’

Marianne Moore’s poem ‘Four Quartz Crystal Clocks’ (1940) was first published in The Kenyon Review 2:3, pp. 284–285, and collected in What Are Years (1941). Here's the first stanza (of seven): ...
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1 vote
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What is the inner meaning of "A Common Confusion"?

"A Common Confusion" is a very short story by Franz Kafka, only three paragraphs long with an English translation available in full online: A common experience, resulting in a common ...
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Ezra Pound's "In a Station of the Metro"

Ezra Pound wrote a very short poem entitled "In a Station of the Metro". It is, in full: The apparition of these faces in the crowd: Petals on a wet, black bough. What kind of meaning and ...
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3 votes
1 answer
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Michael Field’s ‘To Christina Rossetti’

‘Michael Field’ was a joint pen-name used by Katharine Bradley and Edith Cooper. Their elegy ‘To Christina Rossetti’ (1896) was written after Rossetti’s death in 1894. Lady, we would behold thee ...
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2 votes
1 answer
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Keats' views on beauty

In the poem Endymion: A poetic romance (1818), the first stanza of Book I (beginning, "A thing of beauty is a joy for ever") focuses a great deal on beauty where Keats presents some of his views on ...
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3 votes
1 answer
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Are "simple sheep" a biblical reference in Keats' "Endymion"?

In the poem Endymion: A poetic romance (1818), the first stanza of Book I (beginning, "A thing of beauty is a joy for ever") contains the following passage:-                                       ...
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2 votes
1 answer
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Anne Bronte's "The Penitent"

Anne Bronte's poem "The Penitent", originally published under the name Acton Bell in the book Poems by Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell (1846) published jointly with her two sisters, reads as follows: ...
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3 votes
2 answers
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What does T. S. Eliot mean by "This is the way the world ends/Not with a bang but a whimper"?

I once read a poem "The Hollow Men" by T. S. Eliot. The poet ended the verse like this: This is the way the world ends This is the way the world ends This is the way the world ends Not with a ...
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4 votes
1 answer
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Approaching Beowulf scholarship - how to begin?

I'm doing some research on Beowulf for class and I'm aware of some of the major pieces of scholarship (most notably, of course, 'Beowulf: the Monsters and the Critics', along with works like Grendel) ...
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2 votes
1 answer
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Thomas Hardy’s “The Man He Killed”

Thomas Hardy’s ‘The Man He Killed’ (1902) was published in Time’s Laughingstocks (1909):     “Had he and I but met     By some old ancient inn, We should have sat us down to wet     Right ...
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3 votes
1 answer
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Repetition of "smile" in Kamala Surayya's 'My Mother at Sixty-six'

In the poem 'My Mother at Sixty-six' by Kamala Surayya, the poet ends the "prose" saying all I did was smile and smile and smile.... There are various critical interpretations as to what does the ...
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2 votes
1 answer
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Emily Jane Pfeiffer's "Evolution"

Emily Jane Pfeiffer’s poem ‘Evolution’ was first published in Poems (1876): Hunger that strivest in the restless arms     Of the sea-flower, that drivest rooted things     To break their ...
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