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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Catalectic trochaic tetrameter or acephaleous iambic tetrameter? Scanning "Kubla Khan"

I'm currently teaching myself to scan, and I'm practicing with Coleridge's "Kubla Khan" at the moment. You can read the entire poem online. I've arrived at line 32: "Floated midway on the waves;" and ...
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15 votes
1 answer
1k views

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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14 votes
3 answers
6k 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 ...
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6 votes
2 answers
3k views

Who introduced the sonnet to English literature? Wyatt or Shakespeare?

Who brought sonnet to English literature? Thomas Wyatt or William Shakespeare? Their contributions to English literature: Shakespeare wrote a book that contains 154 sonnets, but I couldn't find ...
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7 votes
1 answer
314 views

Why do I have a different version of "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening"?

The first stanza of Robert Frost's "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" reads as follows in its original publication in New Hampshire (1923): Whose woods these are I think I know. His house is ...
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17 votes
2 answers
112k 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 shot one another....
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15 votes
1 answer
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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 ...
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9 votes
1 answer
227 views

Accuracy of the translation of Baudelaire's "Au Lecteur": 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 ...
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8 votes
2 answers
423 views

Edgar Allan Poe's "Alone"

The short poem "Alone" by Edgar Allan Poe was written in 1829 or 1830, when he was a young man, but only published in 1875 long after his death. Its full text is as follows: From childhood’s hour I ...
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8 votes
1 answer
611 views

Doesn't Burns' use of parallelism reinforce "My Heart's in the Highlands" visual images?

Here is "My Heart's in the Highlands" by Robert Burns (https://www.bartleby.com/360/8/24.html). My heart’s in the Highlands, my heart is not here; My heart’s in the Highlands a-chasing the deer;...
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6 votes
2 answers
2k views

In what literature does Rumi say "You are the Soul of the Soul of the Universe. And your name is Love?"

In what literature does Rumi say, "You are the Soul of the Soul of the Universe. And your name is Love?" Any slight modification of the verse, e.g. "The soul of the soul of the universe is love" can ...
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12 votes
3 answers
8k 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 ...
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12 votes
1 answer
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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 ...
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7 votes
1 answer
782 views

Why is the robin "sobbing"?

Blake's "The Blossom", part of his Songs of Innocence which you can read online, is a very short poem about a sparrow and a robin. The part about the robin reads as follows: Pretty, pretty robin! ...
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3 votes
2 answers
172 views

Does translation take away from the meaning of verse and poetry?

I am currently reading The Heart of Haiku by Jane Hirshfield. In it, many examples of haikus translated from Japanese are given. However, in their English form, they lack the rhythm and meter of Haiku....
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26 votes
1 answer
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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 ...
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30 votes
1 answer
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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 ...
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8 votes
3 answers
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What are the "mind-forged manacles"?

From "London", a short poem in William Blake's Songs of Experience collection (free to read online): In every cry of every man, In every infant’s cry of fear, In every voice, in every ban, ...
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31 votes
2 answers
4k 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 ...
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19 votes
7 answers
8k 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 ...
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17 votes
5 answers
19k views

What rough beast slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

Turning and turning in the widening gyreThe falcon cannot hear the falconer; Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and ...
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14 votes
1 answer
645 views

What happened to the epic poem?

It's so strange to me that we all praised and adore things, but would never consider supporting them in a modern setting. There are many examples of this: poetry (very unpopular nowadays; not in the ...
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14 votes
1 answer
224 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 ...
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13 votes
4 answers
2k 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 — ...
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12 votes
1 answer
12k 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!...
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11 votes
1 answer
19k 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 ...
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8 votes
2 answers
647 views

Are the illustrations part of Shel Silverstein's poems?

Shel Silverstein's poems are illustrated by himself. The illustrations often provide the 'punchline' of the poem, as in the following examples (all taken from Falling Up. Safe I look to the left, I ...
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6 votes
0 answers
842 views

Is the comparison in "The Clod and the Pebble" between different types of love?

The poem "The Clod and the Pebble" from William Blake's Songs of Innocence and Experience (which you can read online) is just three verses long and compares two different descriptions of love, ...
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4 votes
1 answer
1k views

How to scan Robert Frost's "For Once, Then, Something"

I just read a fascinating blog post titled "Frost, Hendecasyllabics & For Once, Then, Something". The blog post describes the challenges of scanning Robert Frost's poem "For Once, Then, Something" ...
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20 votes
1 answer
3k views

When and why did "No man is an island" start being regarded as a poem?

John Donne's "Meditation XVII" from Devotions upon Emergent Occasions (1624) includes the following well-known passage: No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the ...
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13 votes
2 answers
6k 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 ...
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12 votes
1 answer
196 views

Who put forward this completion to Sappho 94, and what is it actually supposed to read?

In Sappho 94 (τεθνάκην δ' ἀδόλως θέλω), there is this tercet at ll. 25-27, which is very incomplete, which Edmonds doesn't even have, and which Bibliotheca Augustana and Campbell p. 69 both read: ...
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11 votes
2 answers
27k 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 ...
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11 votes
2 answers
2k 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 ...
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9 votes
1 answer
661 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. ...
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7 votes
1 answer
1k views

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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7 votes
0 answers
276 views

Any significance to the "Dutch clock" and "Chinese plate" in Eugene Field's "The Duel"?

I just learned from an answer to an ID question about the poem "The Duel", or "The Gingham Dog and the Calico Cat", in which Eugene Field describes a vicious fight between two stuffed animals as told ...
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7 votes
1 answer
263 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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7 votes
1 answer
265 views

The second line of "God's Grandeur"

The second line of Gerard Manley Hopkins's sonnet God's Grandeur is: It will flame out, like shining from shook foil. What I found on the Internet regarding the analysis of this line was rather ...
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7 votes
1 answer
113 views

In which year was Frühlingsbotschaft by Heinrich Heine published?

I have been searching the entire internet (or mostly) and can't find when Frühlingsbotschaft by Heinrich Heine was first published. I double-checked and it is not part of his collections Gedichte, ...
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7 votes
1 answer
4k views

Was "First They Came ..." a poem in German?

As I mentioned in another question, I have seen inconsistencies in the recounting of the poem, First They Came .... This led me to look it up and find out that the English poem comes from a collection ...
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7 votes
2 answers
5k views

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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6 votes
0 answers
111 views

When and how was the phrase "these dark Satanic mills" in Blake's "Jerusalem" first altered to "those dark Satanic mills"?

William Blake's lines of verse "Jerusalem", which appear in the "Preface" to his poem "Milton", were written c.1804 and first printed c.1808. They also appear, but with ...
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5 votes
1 answer
190 views

How did the text of "First They Came ..." evolve?

I have read and heard people read many different versions of "First They Came ..." and according to the Wikipedia article, it was originally published in English by Milton Mayer. This led me ...
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5 votes
1 answer
93 views

Is Belarus actually hard to farm?

To Our Native Land by Janka Lučyna starts as follows: Thou art spread widely with forests and marshes, With sand-dune expanses that grant but poor living It then goes on to talk about how bad the ...
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5 votes
1 answer
13k views

Meaning of "cloudless at dawn" and connection with Shakespeare's head?

I was reading one of the master-pieces by Stephen Spender, "An Elementary School Classroom in a Slum". Following are the starting lines of the second of four octaves: Our sour cream walls, ...
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4 votes
1 answer
133 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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4 votes
2 answers
164 views

Why does Dennis Brown say Hughes's Crow is "a sly parody of Eliot's later style"?

In Dennis Brown's The Poetry of Postmodernity, in the chapter dedicated to Ted Hughes' Crow, the author comments: Crow reads like some checklist of postmodernist techniques [...] [Including] ...
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4 votes
1 answer
251 views

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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4 votes
0 answers
441 views

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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