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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What did Yeats in his late period think of his early work?

The poetry of W.B. Yeats is commonly seen as belonging to three rough phases. The first is a Romantic and pre-Raphaelite style of flowery verse which commonly invokes figures of Irish mythology. The ...
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5 votes
2 answers
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What does Tennyson mean by "the rustic cackle ... [is] the murmur of the world"?

I am finding the following lines from Tennyson's Idylls of the King quite perplexing: A thousand pips eat up your sparrow-hawk! Tits, wrens, and all wing'd nothings peck him dead! Ye think the rustic ...
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Is this an accurate explanation of Jakobson's definition of the "true hallmark of poetry"?

The Wikipedia on Roman Jakobson says The true hallmark of poetry is according to Jakobson "the projection of the principle of equivalence from the axis of selection to the axis of combination&...
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3 votes
2 answers
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As the former name for Baghdad, does "Sutis" contain any special or symbolic meaning?

Lawrence Joseph has mentioned the poem "In This Language, In War's Revolutions" that: in the city Baghdad, named Sutis by its founder, Nebuchadnezzar, here where the prophet Daniel ...
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5 votes
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Meaning of 'pelted clover' and 'gorged pastures' in Louise Glück poem?

What do 'pelted clover' and 'gorged pastures' mean in the following poem by Louise Glück? Clover leaves that are being thrown? A pasture land with a pathway in the middle? Labor Day Requiring ...
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1 vote
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Why did the war-trenches get leveled over with sand?

The Belarusian poem It would be well by Maksim Tank (which was written in the aftermath of brutal fighting in Belarus during WWII) included the following line: The winds level over our war-torn ...
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3 votes
1 answer
56 views

What does "Pulled-up" mean in the Lawrence Joseph poem Rubaiyat?

Here part of the poem "Rubaiyat" by Lawrence Joseph: The holes burned in the night. Holes you can look through and see the stump of a leg, a bloody bandage, flies on the gauze; a pulled-up ...
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1 vote
1 answer
78 views

In metrical poetry, what is equal timed?

In metrical poetry, what is equal timed (isochronous)? Is it: the foot, or the ictus, stressed syllable, in a foot, or something else, or nothing in particular?
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4 votes
1 answer
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Why is the 1820 Indicator version of La Belle Dame Sans Merci seen as more "politically correct"?

In his textbook Theory of Literature, Paul Fry writes at length about Jerome McGann's critique of Keats. As part of this he has this to say about the comparison between the 1819/1848 and the 1820 ...
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7 votes
1 answer
133 views

Rhymes in William Blake's 'The Tyger'

Tyger Tyger, burning bright, In the forests of the night; What immortal hand or eye, Could frame thy fearful symmetry? 'Eye' and 'symmetry' don't rhyme in modern standard English. But pronunciation ...
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18 votes
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Accented è in Blake's "The little ones leapèd, and shoutèd, and laugh'd / And all the hills echoèd."

Here is a poem by William Blake with some accented è's (Nurse's Song, 1789). How is this è pronounced? What is the background as to why the e bears an accent? When the voices of children are heard on ...
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Who was Captain Hastel?

The Eagle Well-Spring by Alaksiej Zarycki was dedicated "to the memory of Captain Hastel." It includes the lines ... For the eagle's grave came not seeking! That's where Hastel's heart ...
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Why did Alaksiej Zarycki dedicate "The Heart" to Pimien Pancanka?

The Heart by Alaksiej Zarycki starts off by saying: A miser I, The greatest of misers All that I can find in My heart I am hiding. Dreams from youth rising, Battle's loud thunder, Fortune'd bright ...
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8 votes
1 answer
288 views

What does 'diope' mean in the poem 'Pediatric Reflection' by Ogden Nash?

"Pediatric Reflection" by Ogden Nash Many an infant that screams like a calliope Could be soothed by a little attention to its diope. What does "diope" mean here?
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1 vote
1 answer
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Why does Pimien Pancanka refer to a point in Georgia when talking about Iran and Belarus?

A poem by Pimien Pancanka in Like Water, like Fire is simply titled * * *, and it was labeled "Iran, 1944" at the end. It includes the following lines: The cranes fly beyond Kazbek and El'...
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4 votes
1 answer
244 views

Scanning "Whan that Aprill with his shoures soote"

How would you scan the first line of The Canterbury Tales: Whan that Aprill with his shoures soote This blogger says that it's an iambic pentametre line with a headless initial foot and a feminine ...
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1 vote
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Figures of speech in "Once Upon a Time" by Gabriel Okara

Here are two extracts from the poem "Once Upon a Time" by Gabriel Imomotimi Okara: ‘Feel at home!’ ‘Come again’: they say, and when I come again and feel at home, once, twice, there will be ...
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4 votes
1 answer
51 views

What is a partisan hut?

My Hut by Anatol Astrejka ends with the following lines: When no trace of war will meet you, To deep forest glades once more I'll return, again to greet it, My partisan hut of yore. Earlier, the ...
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2 votes
0 answers
45 views

Does "Native Bread" refer to the Passover Story?

Native Bread by Piatro Hlebka starts as follows: The fire burns. Round the trench is massing For home yearn our countrymen, And the partisan young lasses Bake and dry flat loaves again. May that ...
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7 votes
1 answer
834 views

Who first claimed that Blake’s “dark Satanic Mills” referred to the Church of England, and what was their argument?

William Blake’s poem ‘And did those feet in ancient time’ (1808) contains the lines And was Jerusalem builded here, Among these dark Satanic Mills? The meaning of the phrase “dark Satanic Mills” is ...
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4 votes
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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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2 votes
1 answer
104 views

Was Thomas Hardy's "Unkept Good Fridays" negatively received in its time?

Thomas Hardy's poem "Unkept Good Fridays" (1927) is about all the other people who did good deeds and were unjustly killed but don't have their names remembered or celebrated like Jesus ...
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3 votes
1 answer
66 views

Illustrated anthology book of poetry, with one of the poems being about putting too much sugar in a baby's tea?

I was given an illustrated book of lot of individual English poem in the 90s (book could have been older) with 'weird' poems for children. I think the illustrations might have been watercolour, and ...
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3 votes
1 answer
32 views

Why is Zaki Ovais "someone I’m afraid of"?

The poem Someone I'm Afraid Of (text available here) by Zaki Ovais concludes with the following lines: I’m a human in the universe, denied the most basic rights. I’m someone I’m afraid of. I'm ...
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2 votes
0 answers
21 views

What was the intended audience of "Absent, Or Not Absent" by Tsering Woeser?

Tibetan poet and activist Tsering Woeser wrote the poem Absent, or Not Absent in Chinese. (The full text is available from Words Without Borders). I am somewhat curious as to why she chose to write in ...
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5 votes
0 answers
19 views

What is an "intermezzo from the dusky elm's trunk"?

Phone Call by Tahir Hamut (full text on Words Without Borders) contains the following line: An intermezzo from the dusky elm’s trunk fans the spirit lamp into a bonfire I'm somewhat confused by the ...
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1 vote
0 answers
13 views

Why did Li Hao call himself "foolish"?

Li Hao's poem I Want to Walk Toward the Altar of the Lord contains the following lines: Lord, I am foolish, I am suffering, and my body, like a spoon, here on this earth, sweetly scoops out my brain. ...
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5 votes
1 answer
70 views

What does "the Matthew Arnold" mean in this poem?

A while ago, I came across this poem by Kay Ryan online: The idle are shackled to their oars. The waters of idleness are borderless of course and must always be plied. Relief is foreign on this wide ...
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4 votes
1 answer
131 views

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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2 votes
1 answer
95 views

Meaning of "huffle of a snail", "goat's new compass", etc. in A. A. Milne's "The Four Friends"

I've been reading When We Were Very Young by A. A. Milne and I wonder how can I interpret the following parts of his poem "The Four Friends". I marked in bold those parts that I don't know ...
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3 votes
1 answer
101 views

Does Vivien sleep with Merlin in Tennyson's "Idylls of the King"?

I am re-reading Tennyson's Idylls of the King after many years. His idyll "Merlin and Vivien" is a rather in-depth look at how Vivien learns Merlin's magic through some impressive feats of ...
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0 votes
1 answer
40 views

Why does Arkadź Kulašoǔ live on Moscow Street, and where is this?

Arkadź Kulašoǔ has a poem entitled "Moscow Street," which starts with the line "I live on Moscow Street, I have my home there". Where is Moscow Street? Is this actually in Moscow? ...
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2 votes
0 answers
26 views

Why did Valancin Taulaj refer to himself as a jailed Communist in this poem?

In his poem Last Words, Valancin Taulaj wrote: I am a Communist! there are many like me In this our land that from the dawn of time has growned, Never shall magnates crush us, though they strike us, ...
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5 votes
1 answer
95 views

What does “Hoti’s business” refer to, in Browning’s ‘A Grammarian’s Funeral’?

Robert Browning’s ‘A Grammarian’s Funeral’, first published in Men and Women (1855), describes some of the grammarian’s achievements: He settled Hoti’s business—let it be!—       Properly based Oun— ...
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3 votes
1 answer
178 views

Meaning of the noun 'sweet' in Keats' "Endymion"

I am unsure about the meaning of sweet when used as a noun in John Keats' Endymion. Here are some examples uses of the word: Verse 224: Thus ending, on the shrine he heap’d a spire Of teeming sweets, ...
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7 votes
2 answers
727 views

Explain the grammar of "That not one fleecy lamb ..." in Keats' "Endymion"

I have a question regarding the meaning of a stanza from Keats' Endymion: Among the shepherds, ’twas believed ever, That not one fleecy lamb which thus did sever From the white flock, but pass’d ...
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  • 549
6 votes
1 answer
113 views

Which Kipling poem is this an allusion to?

My great-grandfather wrote lots of poems, and among them a small verse called "Apologies to Rudyard Kipling". It seems that the verse is a travesty on, or reference to, a Kipling poem, but I ...
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2 votes
1 answer
128 views

Who was indignant at Dante’s behaviour to the sinners in the “Inferno”?

In several places in the Inferno, the narrator, representing the poet Dante, behaves badly to the sinners suffering in hell. In Canto VIII, Dante is being ferried across the marshy Styx, in which the ...
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1 vote
1 answer
28 views

What kind of tower was Ales Dudar referring to in "The Tower"?

The Tower by Ales Dudar contains the following: The tower sleeps? What is it dreaming? It rises, gloomy, like a ghost. A prison here? A belly seeming? Who is there that can guess its past? ... And ...
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14 votes
1 answer
873 views

How does the old norse kenning 'nausta blakks hlé-mána gífrs drífu gim-slöngvir' break down into 'warrior'

The 11th century icelandic skald Þórðr Sjáreksson wrote this kenning, quoted from wikipedia: nausta blakks hlé-mána gífrs drífu gim-slöngvir "fire-brandisher of blizzard of ogress of protection-...
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3 votes
1 answer
60 views

Why does the fact that it was expected to be a "good year" mean that the Hermit would no longer need to chew nettle leaves?

The poem Since by Tsering Wangmo Dhompa begins as follows: Spring was late. We watched her toss her seeds like a weary pilgrim. The jacaranda flowered a hazy purple and the hermit said it would be a ...
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2 votes
1 answer
57 views

Is Tsering Wangmo Dhompa's birth certificate wrong?

As Remembered from Rules of the House by Tsering Wangmo Dhompa states the following: I am told I was five in 1971 even though my birth certificate states I was born in 1969. The elders count on their ...
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0 votes
0 answers
35 views

In poetry, what is the terminology for major/key stanzas that are a basis for some of the subsequent stanzas?

In poetry, what is the terminology for major/key stanzas that are a basis for some of the subsequent stanzas? Proverbs 4 (New American Standard Bible 1995) 1 Hear, O sons, the instruction of a father,...
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3 votes
1 answer
100 views

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
0 answers
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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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6 votes
1 answer
214 views

In Longfellow's "Evangeline", during what part of the year is Evangeline exiled?

In Longfellow's Evangeline: A Tale of Acadie, during what part of the year/holiday season is Evangeline exiled from her home? Some details seem to imply Halloween and others Christmas. In the poem ...
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4 votes
1 answer
195 views

How do we divide syllables when scanning a poem?

In this line from Donne's A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning, It leans and hearkens after it I would scan it this way: It leans and hear-kens af-ter it However, my dictionary says that hearken is ...
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1 vote
1 answer
63 views

What is Nioman water?

Jakub Kolas's poem Evenings (from The New Land) contains the following lines: I see level lands, far over Nioman water, and their clothing What is Nioman water?
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3 votes
1 answer
84 views

In Seamus Heaney's 'North', why are the Vikings' voices "lifted in violence and epiphany"?

Seamus Heaney's poem 'North' contains these lines: those fabulous raiders, those lying in Orkney and Dublin […] were ocean-deafened voices warning me, lifted again in violence and epiphany. It would ...
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3 votes
1 answer
95 views

Has the Maltese poem "Fuq Għoljiet Dingli" ("On Dingli Cliffs") by Victor Fenech been ever translated into any other language?

I've been reading some of the poems of the collection Ċirasa (Under the Cherry Tree) by John Peter Portelli, available at the author's website with a translation to English. I especially liked the ...
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