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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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"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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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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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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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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460 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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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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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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462 views

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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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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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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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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550 views

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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375 views

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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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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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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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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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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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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273 views

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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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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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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John Betjeman’s "Suicide on Junction Road Station after Abstention from Evening Communion in North London"

John Betjeman’s poem ‘Suicide on Junction Road Station after Abstention from Evening Communion in North London’ was first published in the collection Continual Dew (1937). It’s short enough to quote ...
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470 views

The meaning of the poem "Be Different to Trees"

I'm studying the poem "Be Different to Trees" (1924) by Mary Carolyn Davies: The talking oak To the ancients spoke. But any tree Will talk to me. What truths I know I garnered so. ...
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278 views

What is "ache-and-pain-a-me back-o-hardness" in "We the Women"?

I need an explanation for what Grace Nichols is trying to say in the following stanzas from her poem "We the Women": We the women who cut clear fetch dig sing We the women making something ...
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595 views

What's the implied meaning of this poem by Russell Edson?

My friends are discussing what's the implied meaning of this poem: "Fire Is Not a Nice Guest" by Russell Edson. Some people feel like it insinuates a futile effort to save people around. But ...
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What is the deeper meaning of Blake's "The Lily"?

The poem "The Lily" by William Blake must be one of the shortest of his Songs of Innocence and of Experience collection, only four lines long: The modest Rose puts forth a thorn, The humble sheep ...
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What metaphor(s) are represented by the mysterious figure in Charles Causley's "Innocent's Song"?

The other day, I came across this rather sinister poem by Charles Causley, set to music. Innocent's Song Who's that knocking on the window, Who's that standing at the door, What are ...