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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85 views

Interpretation of "Mockingbird" by Charles Bukowski

This is the poem "Mockingbird" by Charles Bukowski, first published in Mockingbird Wish Me Luck (1972): the mockingbird had been following the cat all summer mocking mocking mocking teasing ...
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1answer
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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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3answers
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Understand "rip through him as at a distance" in Ted Hughes' "A Kill"

In Ted Hughes' "A Kill" (A Crow poem. See the full poem here), Crow's conceiving and its coming into life is described with opposite terms related to death. Specifically, the creation of ...
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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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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 if 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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Repeated mentions of eggs in poems by Allen Ginsberg

I've been listening to Allen Ginsberg reading his own poetry, and I've noticed a repeated mention of eggs in them. For examples: who plunged themselves under meat trucks looking for an egg "...
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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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Why might Robert Frost specify a ' long two-pointed ladder' in the poem 'After Apple Picking'?

The opening lines of Robert Frost's 'After Apple Picking' read: My long two-pointed ladder's sticking through a tree Toward heaven still, And there's a barrel that I didn't fill Beside it, and there ...
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1answer
27 views

Who is this Lawrence Bonavia?

One of John P. Portelli's Maltese poems is entitled "To Fr. Lawrence Bonavia" ("Lil Fr. Lawrence Bonavia" in Maltese): it's number 52 in his poetry book available from his website (...
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Did William Blake intend The Tyger to resemble a nursery rhyme?

I have often heard that William Blake’s The Tyger is supposed to resemble a nursery rhyme. For example, in analysis I found on “Mercs Poetry Blog”: This poem, despite its mature themes and ...
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1answer
580 views

How to scan Wyatt's "They flee from me"?

I was told in my class that "They flee from me" is written in iambic pentameter, except for line number 6 in the second stanza in iambic tetrameter. However, some lines in my textbook have ...
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Shakespearean Sonnets within his plays

The prologue to Romeo and Juliet is a sonnet. Are there other moments, sections within the plays that are sonnets? I'd like a list of Shakespearean sonnets which appear in his plays (not in the 154 ...
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What is the "South Wind of lie"?

One of the poems in John P. Portelli's poetry collection "In Between: Malta and Canada" (freely available online from the author's website, page 91) is the short poem "The Past and the ...
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Is there specific mythological significance to the Dingli Cliffs?

The poem "Cliffs" ("Irdumijiet") is part of a collection available online by the Maltese-Canadian writer, poet, and academic professor John P. Portelli. Written in 1973, and found ...
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2 Related Poems by Rimbaud and Verlaine

I'm looking for two poems by Rimbaud and Verlaine. They escape to Belgium together, went to a town party, and both wrote a poem about the event. Verlaine was really straightforward, and classical. ...
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1answer
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Original Poems from Notes from the City of the Sun

I am interested in finding the original Chinese poems used in Notes from the City of the Sun by Bonnie S. McDougall. I know the poems are from Bei Dao, and, according to this webpage, the poems used ...
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Why is snow compared to "ash" in the poem "Snowfall"?

"Snowfall", by Ravi Shankar, has this as its first verse: Particulate as ash, new year's first snow falls upon peaked roofs, car hoods, undulant hills, in imitation of motion that moves the ...
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1answer
205 views

Who is "Dr. Johnson" in Meinke's "Apples"?

Here is a few lines from "Apples" by Peter Meinke which mention a "Dr. Johnson":   One sympathizes with Dr. Johnson here when he kicked a stone to dispute the Bishop: such airy-...
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1answer
174 views

How was Il-Kantilena "found", and how is its author known?

The 15th-century Maltese poem "Il-Kantilena" is said to have been "found" in the 1960s by two Maltese historians, but the above-linked Wikipedia page, and other sources I've found ...
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623 views

What is the "starry pole" in Blake's "Songs of Experience"?

Here's the beginning of "Introduction" from William Blake's Songs of Experience: Hear the voice of the Bard, Who present, past, and future, sees; Whose ears have heard The Holy Word That ...
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1answer
249 views

What is "the Throne of Mammon grey" in William Blake's "I Rose Up at the Dawn of Day"?

The poem is fairly self explanatory, but I can not place the "grey" hanging off of "This is the Throne of Mammon": I rose up at the dawn of day— 'Get thee away! get thee away! ...
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Why does the poem "I Love" seem to imply that Belarus is fertile?

Follow-up to: Is Belarus actually hard to farm? The poem I love by Kanstancyja Bujla contains the following lines: I love our Byelorussian nation, Cottages where green orchards throng, The ...
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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 ...
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William Carlos Williams poem about poems

A friend has a very distinct memory of a William Carlos Williams poem about poems, where he writes "words exist on the page actually" about the way he would work and rework the same words ...
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1answer
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In Mary Tighe's Psyche, what is the gemstone referred to by allusion?

In Mary Tighe's "Psyche", Canto 1, lines 413 - 414 (see the text), a gemstone is referred to by allusion to an episode in mythology. To quote, And there the gem which bears his luckless ...
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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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Who is Mrs Icarus in Carol Ann Duffy's poem?

This is Carol Ann Duffy's poem, "Mrs Icarus". I'm not the first or the last to stand on a hillock, watching the man she married prove to the world he's a total, utter, absolute, Grade A ...
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270 views

Is poetry the art of giving different names to the same thing?

There was a poet who said this: Poetry is the art of giving different names to the same thing. They are copied all over the internet. But is this true? In the comments of that post @Randal'Thor ...
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Who said "Poetry is the art of giving different names to the same thing"?

Over on Skeptics, Laurel found some partial information in a quote from Mathematics as a culture clue and other essays: I once quoted that mot to a poet, and got the quick response: "Poetry is ...
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Is it valid to say "Boat Stealing" by Wordsworth has a sense of foreboding in the section up to line 25?

I have recently annotated "Boat Stealing" (page 20 of this PDF) and when looking online, I have found that my interpretation of the poem in some aspects is a bit different to most others. I ...
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How do we parse poems with unusual grammar?

I quote here without typography, because I don't know how to show it on stack Morning breeze morning breeze murmurs / on water trembles leaves / young trees above green branches / birds cascade / ...
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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 ...
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What does "worried stone" mean in this poem from "Tumor"?

In "Tumor", by Anna Leahy, the author wrote a poem about her mother's cancer death, with the title "Gravity 2", after she had written a poem about her father's death, with the ...
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What did Philip Larkin write about his poem "The Importance of Elsewhere"?

What did Larkin write and/or say about his poem "The Importance of Elsewhere"? I'm trying to find out what Larkin had in mind when he wrote that poem. I had assumed it referred to (the ...
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Was Philip Larkin factually correct when he implied that in 1955 the streets in Ireland were "end-on to hills" more often than those in England?

In the 1955 Philip Larkin poem "The Importance of Elsewhere", it reads: Their draughty streets, end-on to hills, the faint Archaic smell of dockland, like a stable, The herring-hawker's ...
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1answer
194 views

Meaning of capitalized nouns in a Lord Byron poem

I am referencing 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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Meaning of "solving" in "Days" by Philip Larkin

Philip Larkin's poem "Days" contains the following lines: Where can we live but days? Ah, solving that question Brings the priest and the doctor What does "solving" mean here? I ...
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1answer
183 views

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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1answer
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What does "in Twos and Threes" mean in this Robert Bly poem?

I'm reading Bly's book of poems Stealing Sugar from the Castle. I cannot understand the title of "Love Poem in Twos and Threes". Does "in Twos and Threes" mean small groups of ...
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What inspired the “lava-lymph” in Elizabeth Browning’s “Aurora Leigh”?

In book V of Aurora Leigh (1856) by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, the narrator asks herself what she expects to achieve in her poetry:                                           Shall I hope To speak my ...
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1answer
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What is the correct title of Sara Coleridge's poem about the months?

Sara Coleridge's poem begins: January brings the snow makes our feet and fingers glow I have seen this listed as: The Garden Year The Months January brings the snow What is the correct / original ...
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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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1answer
180 views

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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1answer
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Why is parched grain that grows anyway a metaphor for the Belarusian people?

Like Water, Like Fire contains the following poem: Where the Egyptian sands spread far around, Close where the waves of azure Nile are flowing, A tomb stood many thousands of years: men going Within, ...
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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 ...
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1answer
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What does Sri Aurobindo mean by "sweet madness"?

This is from book X, canto III of Savitri: A Legend and a Symbol by Sri Aurobindo: All our earth starts from mud and ends in sky, And Love that was once an animal's desire, Then a sweet madness in ...
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1answer
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Who was the poet who said something like "Now only God knows (what I meant to say in that poem)"

I remember having an amazing teacher of literature who used to tell us about a symbolist poet (most probably British) who once said something like: "When I wrote this poem, only God and I knew what it ...
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What might "And God, for a Frontier." mean in "I am afraid to own a Body—"?

I don't understand the second stanza of I am afraid to own a Body— by Emily Dickinson. Double Estate—entailed at pleasure Upon an unsuspecting Heir— Duke in a moment of Deathlessness And God, for a ...
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2answers
643 views

Edmund Spenser's sonnet "My Love is like to ice, and I to fire"

Here is Sonnet XXX from the sonnet cycle Amoretti by Edmund Spenser: My Love is like to ice, and I to fire: How comes it then that this her cold so great Is not dissolved through my so hot desire, ...
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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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