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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Poems in English about Shakespearean characters [closed]

could you please recommend me some poems in English (from 18th-20th centuries) where Shakespearean characters (Hamlet, Ophelia, etc.) are mentioned in the text?
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English poems where Shakespearean characters are mentioned [closed]

This questions is not quite about learning the language, but could you recommend me some poems in English (from 18th-20th centuries) where Shakespearean characters (Hamlet, Ophelia, etc.) are ...
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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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What's the significance of “Collegisse juvat” in Aurora Leigh's fan-mail?

In book III of Aurora Leigh (1856) by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, the narrator, who has published some popular poems, reads her fan-mail, which includes: … rarer tokens from young bachelors, Who ...
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Poems collecting African proverbs

When I was a student, many years ago, in the mid 1990s, I remember reading a fascinating piece about traditional African poetry. If I remember correctly, it was a scholarly article reprinted an ...
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Why did iambic pentameter become so 'standard' in classical English poetry?

Iambic pentameter is probably the most prevailing and widely used meter in classical English poetry, and it's the 'standard' form of verse in many forms of poetry such as sonnets. From Wikipedia (...
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How to figure out if something is iambic pentameter?

I have an assignment where I have to write a Shakespearean sonnet for my professor (who is very strict about the formatting of the assignment). Are there any ways/tricks in which I can figure out if ...
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How to describe the tone/mood of “The Wanderer”? [closed]

"The Wanderer" is an Old English (Anglo-Saxon) poem from the Exeter Book. What best describes the overall tone/mood of this poem? Is it deeply philosophical, highly emotional, or carefree? ...
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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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Why does Petrarch's sequence of poems to Laura have three different titles?

Petrarch's celebrated sequence of 366 poems to Laura goes by three different titles. As far as I can tell, they're used interchangeably: Il Canzoniere, The Songbook Rerum Vulgarium Fragmenta, ...
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Why is it a mistake to “eliminate” rather than “analyse” in “Aurora Leigh”?

In book I of Aurora Leigh (1856) by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, the eponymous narrator describes the process of forming her values and beliefs out of a throng of idées reçus:                          ...
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Who coined the term ‘Shakespearean sonnet’?

So far, we have had at least two questions about the early history of the English sonnet: Who introduced the sonnet to English literature? Wyatt or Shakespeare? Why are Shakespearean sonnets called ...
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In Maya Angelou's “Caged Bird”, what is the meaning of “his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream”?

Here is the penultimate stanza of "Caged Bird" by Maya Angelou: But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream his wings are clipped and his feet are ...
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What figure of speech does “alive enough to have strength to die” by Hardy contain?

The poem "Neutral Tones" by Thomas Hardy was written in 1867 and published in the 1898 collection Wessex Poems and Other Verses. It contains the stanza: The smile on your mouth was the deadest ...
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What are the originals of the poems Tagore has translated from English into Bengali?

Rabindranath Tagore's 1886 collection of verse কড়ি ও কোমল / ka.Di o komal, "Sharps and Flats", includes a set of 15 or so poems under the general heading বিদেশী ফূলের গুচ্ছ / videshii ...
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What exactly is the “No Ordinary Sun”?

The poem "No Ordinary Sun" by the Maori poet Hone Tuwhare is about a tree's reaction to some kind of deadly threat, the titular "no ordinary sun". Addressing the tree in the second person, the poem ...
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What does Elizabeth Browning mean by “turning up their under-natures”?

In book I of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Aurora Leigh (1856), the eponymous narrator describes the experience of reading poetry:                                 But the sun was high When first I ...
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What language was Tagore's “This Dog” written in?

Disclaimer: this is going to be a stupidly obvious question for anyone who speaks either Hindi or Bengali, but with zero knowledge of either language I can't really eke out an answer. Apologies if ...
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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! ছোট সে তরী আমারি সোনার ধানে গিয়েছে ভরি’। শ্রা...
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Why is a sorrowing heart called “Sultan” and a stone heart called “burial site” in this verse of Saint Kabir?

I came across this verse of the great Indian poet Saint Kabir: बिरहा बुरहा जिनि कहौ, बिरहा है सुलतान। जिस घटि बिरह न संचरै, सो घट सदा मसान॥ birahaa burahaa jini kahau, birahaa hai sulataan jis ghaTi ...
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What is the relationship between Tagore's poems and his song lyrics?

Rabindranath Tagore composed and wrote the lyrics for approximately 2,200 songs, collectively known as Rabindra Sangeet, "Rabindra music". These songs remain immensely popular in India and ...
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Identifying a poem about life as a test

In my 8th grade social studies class two decades ago, we studied the following poem, recollected from memory: Life is but a savage test of who is least and who is best. Those who fall may lack the ...
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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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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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What is the significance of “southern” in Tagore's poem “A Hundred Years From Now”?

The Bengali poem "Aaji Hote Shata Barsha Pare" by Rabindranath Tagore, translated into English as "A Hundred Years Hence" or "A Hundred Years From Now", is a poem written ...
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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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What does Wordsworth mean by “A pagan suckled in a creed outworn”?

I have two questions regarding this sonnet by William Wordsworth, first published in 1807: The world is too much with us; late and soon, Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers: Little we ...
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Meaning of “Elizabeth Childers” by Edgar Lee Masters?

Here's the poem "Elizabeth Childers" by Edgar Lee Masters, published in Spoon River Anthology (1915): Dust of my dust, And dust with my dust, O, child who died as you entered the world, ...
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What is the original source of Rabindranath Tagore's “Endless Time”?

There is a poem "Endless Time" by Rabindranath Tagore as follows, which I interpret as being about a mortal human speaking to God, someone living a rushed human life and comparing it to God'...
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In which poem(s) in Day by Day does Robert Lowell describe erectile dysfunction?

Robert Lowell's Wikipedia page states that Helen Vendler, in contrast to certain other critics, praised Lowell's final publication, Day by Day, especially because of: his descriptions of impotence, ...
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What does it mean to laugh like the letter k?

In Abuelito Who by Sandra Cisneros, the symbolic meaning of one line is quite confusing. The narrator is referring to her grandfather (abuelo), and she says he: who used to laugh like the letter k I'...
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How can I get better at remembering the subject in lengthy, complicated passages (poems or otherwise)?

I struggle, especially in poetry and older English books, with comprehension and I think one of the biggest problems is that I lose track of the subject that is in view during long passages that ...
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Is there some cultural significance in the “chhanna” or metal bowl?

The Punjabi poem "Chhanna, the Metal Bowl" is about a "flat-bottom metal bowl" which is apparently some kind of family heirloom, "filled with memories". What's so special about a metal bowl? Is it ...
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What does “toby” mean, in London slang of Orwell's time?

In the George Orwell poem "A Dressed Man and a Naked Man", two men are haggling for the clothes of one of them (the other is naked). After a little research into the pounds/shillings/pence system for ...
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Two Interpretations of Robert Herrick's “To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time”

In his "To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time", Robert Herrick concluded his carpe diem plea with: For having lost but once your prime, You may forever tarry. There seems to be two ways to ...
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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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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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Understanding two lines from “The Wound-Dresser” by Walt Whitman

Among the hospital poems, "The Wound-Dresser" by Walt Whitman is one of the best and finest. I wonder if anybody here can help me to understand two lines of this piece. But in silence, in dreams’ ...
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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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Why rename Kipling's poem “The Beginnings” to “The Wrath of the Awakened Saxon”?

Several white nationalist and neo-Nazi websites have published a modified version of Kipling's poem "The Beginnings." In the new version of the poem, the title was renamed to "THE WRATH ...
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Did “drink to someone” imply the same thing back then?

In a popular song Drink To Me Only with Thine Eyes, first published in 1616 as To Celia by Ben Jonson, did the phrase drink to someone mean the same thing as nowadays, i.e. to say cheers for someone? ...
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What does “It is not meet” mean in “Idylls of the King”?

From Idylls of the King: The Passing of Arthur by Alfred Tennyson: To him replied the bold Sir Bedivere: 'It is not meet, Sir King, to leave thee thus, Aidless, alone, and smitten through the helm— A ...
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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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What is the text Ivan refers to in the preface to the Grand Inquisitor

Before declaming the Grand Inquisitor in the Brothers Karamazov, Ivan refers to a poem with the virgin Marie visiting Hell and begging God for mercy for its inhabitants. Is this a real poem? If so, ...
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Meaning of capitalized nouns in a Lord Byron poem

I am in reference to Lord Byron's Childe Harold's Pilgrimage (see: wikipedia article). Here is the opening stanza of the work (TO IANTHE): Not in those climes where I have late been straying, ⁠Though ...
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Poem about a joker with disorganized attire

[throughout this question by 'English' I only mean the 'language English' ] I remember from my childhood a English language poem from a middle/high school general English textbook (India). I can only ...
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What could “lavender-bag ancestors” mean in Ted Hughes' “Crow Improvises”?

In "Crow Improvises" (text version), the protagonist conjoins a list of disparate objects, where each pair of objects ignites a spark. Putting aside the symbolic meaning of each object, it ...
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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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An imaginary young British poet who was invented as a literary hoax in the 1920s?

I think I read a brief piece about this a long time ago -- as in, over twenty years ago. (Possibly in some sort of literary reference book.) As near as I can recall, the following sequence of events ...
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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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