Questions tagged [poetry]

Questions about poetry in general or about any specific poem. Please use this tag with the appropriate author tag, and, if applicable, a language tag (such as [french-literature].

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19 views

Poem about a joker with disorganized attire

I remember from my childhood a English poem about a joker with disorganized attire. He has worn a cooking pan as hat, (probably) socks as gloves and he's travelling in a train and leaves his station ...
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What's with the dogs in Mark Strand's “Eating Poetry”?

In Mark Strand's poem "Eating Poetry", the first several lines appear to be about a person who has been consuming poetry - I interpreted this as metaphorical, "eating" poetry as in ...
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Is there a published English translation of Muhammad Iqbal's “The Parliament of Satan”?

Muhammad Iqbal was a 19th-to-20th-century Muslim poet, philosopher, and politican, one of the most important figures in Urdu poetry and also influential in Farsi poetry, who received a British ...
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28 views

The Ballad of Rudolph Reed

I found different versions of the Gwendolyn Brooks´ "The Ballad of Rudolph Reed". Could someone provide me with a reliable version?
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Louise Glück's “Vespers”

The following poem "Vespers" comes from The Wild Iris, a 1992 book of poetry written by Louise Glück, the 2020 winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature. In your extended absence, you permit ...
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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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1answer
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In Tagore's “Along the Way”, who is the entity that the “your touch” is referring to?

Rabindranath Tagore's "Along the Way" several times refers to "your touch", such as in this first stanza: As I walk along my way I receive your touch Now and then But I don’t know ...
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1answer
28 views

Why do the prayers stop in Tagore's “A Dream”?

At the end of Rabindranath Tagore's "A Dream", there's one part (the ending) that goes like this: At the gate The lamp went out In the temple On the banks of Shipra The prayers stopped. ...
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Seeking Title and Poet of Post WWI poem closing with “If there is no reward for devotion such as this, I'll take my chances in hell”

I'm seeking the title/author of a 1920-30s poem, closing with the phrase: If there is no reward for devotion such as this, I'll take my chances in hell. The narrator being a soldier returned from ...
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25 views

What is the meaning and significance of “urubutinga” in Mário de Andrade's “O lundu do escritor difícil”

The title is suggestive enough to elicit an understanding that Andrade probably purposefully made this poem difficult to read for people who are not familiar with Tupi culture. A conscious effort of ...
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What does “raised waves in my mind” mean in Tagore's “At the End of the Day”?

In Rabindranath Tagore's "At the End of the Day", there's one stanza that goes like this: To you I only pray – Before I go let me know Looking at the sky Why mother earth so green Gave me a ...
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Why was the narrator left alone on the shore in Tagore's “Sonar Tari”?

Rabindranath Tagore's poem 'Sonar Tari', written in Bengali, was translated into English as 'The Golden Boat'. The last stanza reads: ঠাঁই নাই, ঠাঁই নাই! ছােট সে তরী আমারি সােনার ধানে গিয়েছে ভরি’। ...
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Who is Tagore's “Cruel Kindness” addressed to?

Rabindranath Tagore's "Cruel Kindness" is written in the second person, addressing a "you": I seek so many things with all my heart But you have saved me denying. All through my ...
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“Yum yum pig's bum”

I saw a vernacular poem that appears to have been passed down and passed around in various parts of the UK. A couple of different versions: Yum yum Pig's bum Wrap it up In chewing gum Have a slice ...
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Why is love a “he” to Kahlil Gibran?

Then said Almitra, Speak to us of Love. And he raised his head and looked upon the people, and there fell a stillness upon them. And with a great voice he said: When love beckons to you, follow him, ...
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Why does the bow have to be stable in “The Prophet”?

I find the poetic imaginary in this verse from kind of disturbing: And a woman who held a babe against her bosom said, Speak to us of Children. And he said: Your children are not your children. They ...
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100 views

Can you identify this poem about axolotl, fish, salamander

I have some lines from my dad's favourite poem, but they’re jumbled as he was 94. The lines may not be in the correct order. He couldn’t remember the writer, and several internet searches have not ...
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1answer
49 views

Looking for a famous quote by William Wordsworth probably relevant to the concept of the Anthropocene

I've talked to someone who studied English literature and the concept of Anthropocene recently, and the person quoted Wordsworth during our conversation. Unfortunately I can not remember the quote, ...
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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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Why is the short Vietnamese piece “Learning Late Letters” called a “poem”?

"Learning Late Letters", originally written in Vietnamese by Nguyễn Hoàng Quyên, was one of the winners of the 2020 Words Without Borders Academy of Americans Poets Poems in Translation ...
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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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Are the names J. Alfred Prufrock and Hugh Selwyn Mauberley completely arbitrary?

T.S. Eliot's first professionally published poem was "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock", in which Eliot narrates the experience of a character named J. Alfred Prufrock. Similarly, Ezra ...
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How to scan the “Clark” poem from “One Fish, Two Fish”?

One of my favorite things about Dr. Seuss's One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish is the combination of rhyme and rhythm or meter in its poems. I think I've found satisfying rhythms for reading all ...
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What is the significance of 36 in the Vietnamese poem “Learning Late Letters”?

"Learning Late Letters", a poem originally written in Vietnamese by Nguyễn Hoàng Quyên, was one of the winners of the 2020 Words Without Borders Academy of Americans Poets Poems in ...
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28 views

What do the silks and tattoos represent in Sui-Yun's poem about Eve?

One of the Peruvian writer Sui-Yun's Four Short Poems (translated from Spanish by Jennifer Shyue) is written as addressed to "Eve, my eternal mother". I hope I'm not being excessively dirty-...
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3answers
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What does “rime of alien dreams” mean in Maya Angelou's “The Mothering Blackness”?

In Maya Angelou's poem "The Mothering Blackness", there's a verse that goes like this: She came down creeping        here to the black arms waiting        now to the warm heart waiting rime ...
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Who is the 'one who had lifted it' in Shelley's sonnet about 'the painted veil'?

In Shelley's famous sonnet, which begins 'Lift not the painted veil', the "turn" is placed - unusually - in the seventh line. Lift not the painted veil which those who live Call Life: ...
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How is capitalization being used in Maya Angelou's “On the Pulse of Morning”?

I was looking through Maya Angelou's "On the Pulse of Morning", and noticed that there's an interesting use of capitalization in the poem. (I checked multiple version to make sure that this ...
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1answer
56 views

Starting a poem with a “small letter”

I read a poem entitled Archery by Carl Phillips: The first few lines read as: was still a thing, then. To have timed your arrow perfectly meant watching the air for a moment... As a basic reader I ...
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Meaning of Lorca's “Romance sonámbulo”?

What does Lorca mean in his poem "Romance sonámbulo" when he says: Tiny tin-leaf lanterns were trembling on the tiles. A thousand crystal tambourines were wounding dawn's dark sky. (...
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1answer
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Why is Szymborska's “Tarsier” sometimes written (in translation) with simplistic grammar?

Szymborska's poem "Tarsier" ("Tarsjusz" in the original Polish) has been translated, in a version that says "Translations and Comments by Magnus J. Krynski and Robert A. ...
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How does the change in syllables change the reading in Maya Angelou's “Still I Rise”?

In the opening stanza of Maya Angelou's "Still I Rise", the syllables go 9 / 7 / 9 / 6. The second verse goes 8 / 7 / 9 / 7. All of these are within two or three syllables of each other, and ...
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1answer
51 views

Title of poem by Wisława Szymborska

Does anyone know the title of the poem by Szymborska which contains a line worded something like “whose life has ever turned out as they thought it would anyway”? I believe that the poem was published ...
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1answer
42 views

How are colors being used in Maya Angelou's “The Mothering Blackness”?

In Maya Angelou's poem "The Mothering Blackness", there are a bunch of different colors mentioned. For instance, the first verse goes like this: She came home running    back to the ...
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4answers
746 views

Why the word “sootikin” in a children's poem “Choosing Their Names”?

In a poem entitled Choosing Their Names by Thomas Hood a stanza is: One is black, with a frill of white, And her feet are all white fur, too; If you stroke her she carries her tail upright And ...
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1answer
258 views

What does “Fills now my cup” mean?

In Rilke's poem "Pietà", there is this sentence: Fills now my cup, and past thought is my fulness thereof. I harden as a stone sets hard at its heart. What does "Fills now my cup"...
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The motif of Tom O' Bedlam

The 17th-century motif of Tom O' Bedlam has always been one that I hold much affection and wonder for (as can be assumed by the choice of username on my part.) The motif most famously makes an ...
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1answer
38 views

What does this quote in Don Juan by Lord Byron mean? “Sweet is a legacy, and passing sweet The unexpected death of some old lady”

Sweet is a legacy, and passing sweet The unexpected death of some old lady I saw this quote in C. S. Lewis's The Inner Ring and I'm having trouble figuring out what it means. What does this quote in ...
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99 views

Did Julian Huxley write a poem about an axolotl, and if so, what was it?

Julian Huxley was an avid science populariser, researched into the metamorphosis of axolotls, and wrote poetry. I'm pretty sure that these interests were combined in a poem I once came across, ...
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1answer
30 views

What does “even so did I” mean?

I am reading Oscar Wilde's poem "The House of Judgment" and it uses the phrase. I have seen it in other older texts. What does it mean? Here is a copy of the passage. The phrase is bolded. ...
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Understanding the meaning of “Eructation of unhealthy souls” in T.S. Eliot's Burnt Norton

In the third section of Burnt Norton we find these lines Eructation of unhealthy souls Into the faded air, the torpid Eructation have two meanings Belching Eruption So, if we take up the second ...
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1answer
158 views

What does “balks account” mean in Walt Whitman's “I Sing the Body Electric”?

Walt Whitman's poem "I Sing the Body Electric" is a sort of celebration of the human body. A phrase that recurs a few times is "balks account": The love of the body of man or ...
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3answers
2k views

What is the meaning of “Both wry with the laboured ease of loss.” and “And of this circumstance… Its silence silences.” in 'A Photograph'?

In the poem A Photograph (written by Shirley Toulson), I didn't understand some sentences. In the first stanza, the poet says, The cardboard shows me how it was When the two girl cousins went ...
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1answer
48 views

Understanding the second section of first part of Burnt Norton by T.S. Eliot

The first section of first part of Burnt Norton seems to be focused on "time", although it is too abstract and as I say "beyond my perceptible sense" but in the least we understand ...
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1answer
46 views

Why do all the lines of Burnt Norton seem unconnected?

I'm reading Burnt Norton by T.S. Eliot. I have read it's background (that manor house theme) and a few months ago read Murder in the Cathedral (as Wikipedia says says, "He created it while ...
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2answers
126 views

What does “radium” mean in Confessions of a Born Spectator by Ogden Nash?

The fourth line of the last stanza (stanza 6) in the poem "Confessions of a Born Spectator" by Ogden Nash is: Buy tickets worth their radium What does 'radium' mean here? What does the ...
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Numbering of Petrarch's sonnets

I have a question regarding the numbering of the Petrarch's sonnets. The Hungarian pianist and composer Franz Liszt transcribed for piano three of the Sonnets: 47, 104, 123. We can be sure of which ...
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1answer
73 views

What does it mean for Venus to 'read my case' in Drummond of Hawthornden's madrigal?

I came across a madrigal by William Drummond of Hawthornden (laird of the same) yesterday. It's an astonishingly beautiful poem, but I'm having trouble making sense of some of the phrases and ...
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44 views

What is a central theme in Robert Frost's “After Apple-Picking,” and how is it revealed in the poem?

Robert Frost's After Apple-Picking, published in North of Boston (1914) is, at least at the surface level, a poem about harvesting apples and sleep. But what is actually its central theme and how is ...
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36 views

To which 'Argive queen' was Ben Jonson referring in his verse letter to the Countess of Rutland?

I came across a couplet today in Ben Jonson's verse letter "Epistle to Elizabeth Countess of Rutland" which I'm still trying to understand: How many equal with the Argive queen, Have beauty ...

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