Questions tagged [poetry]

This tag should be used on questions about poetry in general or about any specific poem. Please use this tag with the appropriate author tag, and, if applicable, the language tag (such as [french-literature].

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27
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2answers
2k views

Did Lenore merely leave or is she dead?

Edgar Allen Poe's poem The Raven has the narrator mourning the loss of his love Lenore. But it's actually not entirely clear to me if Lenore merely left the narrator (for whatever relationship-related ...
26
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1answer
3k views

What is the pun in Kipling's poem “The Three-Decker”?

In the poem The Three-Decker, by Rudyard Kipling, there is one line where the meter is slightly different from all the other lines. I Googled that line, not expecting to find anything, and Google ...
25
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1answer
3k views

Why are haiku usually of 17 syllables?

One of the characteristics of Haiku is that the poems are usually of 17 syllables (5-7-5). Exceptions exist, of course, but 17 is the norm. Why 17? How did the originators of Haiku come to settle on ...
24
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2answers
1k views

Did Poe plagiarise someone else's work when writing “The Raven”?

I've read that Poe's been accused of lifting significant elements from many authors including Elizabeth Barrett, Charles Dickens, Leo Penzoni, and Thomas Holley Chivers (and "unknown," of course). ...
23
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6answers
4k views

Does “The Charge of the Light Brigade” glorify war or criticize it?

The Charge of the Light Brigade is an 1854 narrative poem at the Battle of Balaclava during the Crimean War. Does it glorify war or criticize it?
22
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1answer
433 views

Is the mariner immortal?

I pass, like night, from land to land; I have strange power of speech; That moment that his face I see, I know the man that must hear me: To him my tale I teach. This is one of the last ...
21
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1answer
389 views

Looking for a poem about the (fictionalized) writing of The Canterbury Tales Prologue

A friend of mine used to quote a poem that told the fictionalized story of Chaucer writing the first lines of the Prologue of The Canterbury Tales: "Whan that Aprill with his ... ". When he ...
19
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2answers
339 views

What circumstances is Bachchan referring to in this poem?

I came across a poem titled, Saathi, Sab Kuch Sahna Hoga (You have to tolerate this all, my friend) by Harivansh Rai Bachchan. I read this poem years ago and it is taken from an older book. Here is an ...
19
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3answers
2k views

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 ...
19
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1answer
1k views

What is the symbolism of the final rise of the Kraken?

I've been studying a lot of Tennyson, and I recently read The Kraken. The first 12 lines seem relatively straightforward, describing the giant beast that sleeps at the bottom of the sea, but the final ...
15
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6answers
3k views

Significance of the Phoenician Sailor having pearls for eyes in The Waste Land

In T. S. Eliot's poem The Waste Land (which you can read online), the "Phoenician Sailor" (an image on a tarrot card) is described as having pearls for eyes in lie 48: Is your card, the drowned ...
15
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1answer
812 views

Symbolism of “hot gammon” in T. S. Eliot's The Waste Land

I'm reading T. S. Eliot's poem The Waste Land (which you can read for free online) and one particular line stuck out at me: Well, that Sunday Albert was home, they had a hot gammon, And they ...
15
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1answer
574 views

How does the golden bough in “Sailing to Byzantium” relate to the story in the Aeneid, if at all?

According to Wikipedia of W.B. Yeats' "Sailing to Byzantium" is a metaphor for a spiritual journey. Yeats explores his thoughts and musings on how immortality, art, and the human spirit may ...
14
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4answers
2k views

Terminology and examples for what George Orwell calls “good bad poetry”?

Recently I bumped into an article where "The Poetry Foundation’s president, John Barr, takes a look at what separates “serious” poetry from the rest". Poetry being an art form, obviously no such ...
14
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8answers
3k views

Why does Robert Frost contradict himself in “The Road Not Taken”

In Robert Frost's poem "The Road Not Taken" (which you can read online), the narrator gives two contradictory reasons for taking a particular fork in the road. At the beginning of the poem, the ...
14
votes
1answer
321 views

Sentence structure of a stanza in “Ozymandias”—how the grammar works?

Tell that its sculptor well those passions read Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things, The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed. I do get that it says that the one who made ...
14
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1answer
864 views

Whose were the “best minds” being destroyed in Ginsberg's “Howl”?

In Allen Ginsberg´s most famous poem "Howl", he claims he was witness to the destruction of the best minds of his generation: I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving ...
14
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0answers
263 views

How did T.S. Eliot's literary criticism affect his poetry?

T.S. Eliot wrote influential essays in New Criticism, a literary theory movement that if I understand correctly tried to revive formalism and focus on close reading and the text itself, as a response ...
13
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2answers
48k views

What is the origin of this contradictory poem?

Does anyone know where this poem originates from: One fine morning in the middle of the night, Two dead men got up to fight, Back to back they faced each other, Drew their swords and ...
13
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3answers
3k views

Why does the poem “Naming of Parts” contrast war with nature?

Henry Reed's poem "Naming of Parts" (which you can read online) depicts a lesson used to teach soldiers the various parts of their rifles. (Hence the title "Naming of Parts"). Interspersed between the ...
13
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1answer
1k views

What does 'Gilead' mean in The Raven?

Poe's poem The Raven contains the following words in the fifteenth stanza: [...] tell me truly, I implore— Is there—is there balm in Gilead?—tell me—tell me, I implore!" What does 'Gilead' mean ...
13
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1answer
285 views

About l. 3 of the second stanza of Sappho's Ὠδὴ εἰς Ἀνακτωρίαν (Ode to Anactoria)

A long time ago, I translated all of Sappho's poems. In doing so, I had to reconstruct some parts of the texts, and do some amateur level criticism. One example of such work lies in the poem sometimes ...
13
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1answer
182 views

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 ...
12
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2answers
4k views

What is the deeper meaning of “The Tyger”?

William Blake's poem "The Tyger" is part of his collection Songs of Innocence and of Experience, an extraordinary set of poems which explores ideas such as spirituality, love, poverty, repression, all ...
12
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3answers
546 views

Who chained the albatross to the mariner's neck?

In the long poem by Samuel Coleridge, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, the mariner talks about an albatross being chained to his neck: Instead of the cross, the albatross About my neck was hung. ...
12
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1answer
4k views

Is the haiku in “You Only Live Twice” by Bashō?

Ian Fleming's Bond novel You Only Live Twice has one of my favourite poems: You only live twice Once when you're born And once when you look death in the face. According to the Wikipedia ...
12
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1answer
7k views

What did “Moloch” represent in Allen Ginsberg´s poem “Howl”?

In Allen Ginsberg´s poem "Howl", what did "Moloch" represent? What sphinx of cement and aluminum bashed open their skulls and ate up their brains and imagination? Moloch! Solitude! Filth! ...
12
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3answers
3k views

What does “The Edge of Doom” mean?

The following stanza is from Robert Frost's Into My Own: One of my wishes is that those dark trees, So old and firm they scarcely show the breeze, Were not, as ’twere, the merest mask ...
12
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1answer
246 views

Had Keats read any of Homer's works before reading Chapman's translation of them?

In "On First Looking into Chapman's Homer," John Keats writes: Oft of one wide expanse had I been told That deep-browed Homer ruled as his demesne; Yet never did I breathe its pure serene ...
11
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3answers
595 views

Does “The Soul selects her own Society” by Emily Dickinson have a simile?

Here is the poem "The Soul selects her own Society" by Emily Dickinson. The Soul selects her own Society — Then — shuts the Door — To her divine Majority — Present no more — Unmoved — ...
11
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2answers
14k views

Did Rudyard Kipling Write “The Wrath of the Awakened Saxon”?

I came across a poem on a forum, attributed to Rudyard Kipling called "THE WRATH OF THE AWAKENED SAXON" (the title seems to be often posted in caps). A Google search indicates that where posted, this ...
11
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1answer
1k views

Who is the speaker in “O Captain! My Captain!”

In "O Captain! My Captain!" by Walt Whitman, the speaker acts as if he has a close connection to Abraham Lincoln, saying: My father does not feel my arm This suggests that they are in such a ...
11
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1answer
125 views

The name of a poem about a poet being happy that someone has forgotten the title of their poem

I read this poem in a collection and now I can't find it. It starts with the poet talking about how they were approached by someone who had loved one of their poems. But the reader could not remember ...
11
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1answer
8k views

Why did the stars throw down their spears?

William Blake's poem “The Tyger” from Songs of Experience contains one couplet whose meaning has always puzzled me, lines 17–18, the first two lines of the fifth stanza: When the stars threw ...
11
votes
1answer
256 views

What does “kettle at the heel” mean in this Yeats poem, “The Tower”?

What shall I do with this absurdity — O heart, O troubled heart — this caricature, Decrepit age that has been tied to me As to a dog's tail? Never had I more Excited, passionate, ...
10
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4answers
517 views

Meaning of “And do not drop in for an after-loss” in Shakespeare's sonnet 90

Sonnet 90 by Shakespeare: Then hate me when thou wilt; if ever, now; Now, while the world is bent my deeds to cross, Join with the spite of fortune, make me bow, And do not drop in for an ...
10
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2answers
1k views

What does the “good night” symbolize in Dylan Thomas's “Do not go gentle into that good night”?

Do not go gentle into that good night by Dylan Thomas, he begins with "Do not go gentle into that good night". He also uses this as one of two alternating refrains. In this poem, what does the "good ...
10
votes
1answer
305 views

Meaning of “may I be twice damned for a bank-clerk or store hand” in “I hight Don Quixote”, a poem by Jack Parsons

From I Hight Don Quixote by Jack Parsons: They said I was crazy, ambiguous, lazy, disgusting, fantastic, obscene; So I hied for my sagebrush and cactus and corn mush, To see if the air was ...
10
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2answers
647 views

Are keteks based on some form of real-life poetry?

In Brandon Sanderson's Stormlight Archive novels, the chapters are grouped into parts, the titles of the parts combining to form a ketek. For example, in the first book, The Way of Kings: Above ...
10
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2answers
518 views

Meaning of this line in “On seeing the Elgin Marbles”

And each imagined pinnacle and steep Of godlike hardship tells me I must die The "pinnacle and steep" represent the pillars of the Parthenon if I'm not mistaken. But the next line doesn't make ...
10
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1answer
5k views

What is the relationship between Heart of Darkness and The Hollow Men?

T.S. Eliot's poem The Hollow Men, unusually, opens with a quote from a Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness: Mistah Kurtz— he dead. In most printings of the poem that I've seen, this single quote is ...
10
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1answer
2k views

How many of the Songs of Innocence and of Experience come in pairs?

Some years ago I studied many of Blake's Songs of Innocence and of Experience. Many of them are very clearly paired up, an Innocence song and an Experience song deliberately written to compare and ...
10
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3answers
193 views

Do traditional Japanese haikus always describe a moment?

I am currently reading The Heart of Haiku by Jane Hirshfield. In it, there are many examples of haikus by Bashō. In them, they always appear to give reference to a time, either explicitly or through ...
9
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2answers
795 views

Why is 'beer' used in ''a parson much bemus'd in beer"?

In 1735, Alexander Pope wrote Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot. There is a line "a parson much bemus'd in beer." What has beer to do with it? I came across this in Merriam-Webster: In 1735, British poet ...
9
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2answers
5k views

What are the “dark Satanic mills” in Blake's Jerusalem?

The short poem Jerusalem by William Blake - not to be confused with his much longer epic poem of the same title; I'm talking about the "did those feet in ancient times" one - contains the following ...
9
votes
3answers
359 views

What makes a poem a Grook?

I recently learned, while listening to the flow of wisdom, music, and monologue that flows from lauir, that there's a type of poem called a 'Grook'. Quoting from the Wikipedia page: The grooks are ...
9
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3answers
616 views

Why is “Ode on Melancholy” an Ode?

What features of Keats's "Ode on Melancholy" make it an ode? This is a question that seems to be important in our English class, yet I don't have a comprehensive answer. Merriam-Webster defines "ode" ...
9
votes
1answer
473 views

How much of The Song of Wandering Aengus by Yeats is based on Irish folklore?

Yeats was a keen student of Irish folklore and it is clear that the titular character in his poem The Song of Wandering Aengus is based on the pre-Christian Celtic god of love, youth and poetry. ...
9
votes
1answer
593 views

How can poetry be defined?

I've been trying to figure this out recently, but I can't. My logic it this: 1) A lot of people think that poetry must rhyme. But the list of poets who broke with that tradition when it suited them ...
9
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1answer
173 views

Accuracy of a translation: how to forge an opinion?

This question is directly inspired from this one on French Language stack exchange. To summarize it, the OP is wondering about the good translation for "chimiste" in Baudelaire's opening poem Au ...