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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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7 votes
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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
2k 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 (...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
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15 votes
3 answers
7k 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
4k 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 ...
Literaturer's user avatar
6 votes
1 answer
439 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 ...
Alex's user avatar
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21 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 ...
verbose's user avatar
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19 votes
2 answers
140k 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....
Mirte's user avatar
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15 votes
1 answer
2k 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 ...
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14 votes
3 answers
9k 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 ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
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13 votes
1 answer
10k 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 ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
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10 votes
1 answer
370 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 ...
lemon's user avatar
  • 201
9 votes
1 answer
801 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. ...
Matt Thrower's user avatar
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8 votes
1 answer
733 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;...
Elena Kolumba's user avatar
8 votes
1 answer
967 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! ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
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8 votes
2 answers
722 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 ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
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7 votes
3 answers
645 views

John Betjeman’s "Suicide on Junction Road Station after Abstention from Evening Communion in North London"

John Betjeman’s poem ‘Suicide on Junction Road Station after Abstention from Evening Communion in North London’ was first published in the collection Continual Dew (1937). It’s short enough to quote ...
Gareth Rees's user avatar
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6 votes
1 answer
4k views

What is the symbolism of the Western Wind (or Zephyr)?

I was reading some poetry and I stumbled upon the four-line 'Western Wind' by Anonymous, written in the 16th century: Western wind when wilt thou blow the small rain down can rain Christ if my ...
Noah Sullivan's user avatar
6 votes
2 answers
3k 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 ...
Squirrel-Power's user avatar
6 votes
1 answer
531 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 ...
CREATIVITY Unleashed's user avatar
5 votes
1 answer
391 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 ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
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5 votes
1 answer
118 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 ...
EJoshuaS - Stand with Ukraine's user avatar
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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4 votes
1 answer
98 views

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 ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
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3 votes
2 answers
201 views

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

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....
Benjamin's user avatar
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2 votes
1 answer
243 views

Why does George Eliot call night "bright" and "radiant"?

"The Radiant Dark" by George Eliot - Hello Poetry Should I long that dark were fair? Say, O song. Lacks my love aught that I should long? Dark the night with breath all flow'rs And tender ...
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33 votes
2 answers
5k 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 ...
Cahir Mawr Dyffryn æp Ceallach's user avatar
31 votes
1 answer
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 ...
Peter Shor's user avatar
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27 votes
1 answer
4k 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 ...
muru's user avatar
  • 6,999
26 votes
2 answers
6k views

Bilbo’s song of Eärendil in “The Fellowship of the Ring”

In The Fellowship of the Ring, the character Bilbo Baggins recites a poem beginning with these lines: Eärendil was a mariner that tarried in Arvernien; he built a boat of timber felled in Nimbrethil ...
Gareth Rees's user avatar
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23 votes
5 answers
4k views

Why are all the schoolchildren referred to as guns in Clint Smith's "The Gun"?

Clint Smith's poem "The Gun" describes a school shooting from the perspective of a child. However, the central character, as well as its fellow classmates, are all referred to as "guns&...
bobble's user avatar
  • 9,864
20 votes
7 answers
11k 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
26k 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 ...
DukeZhou's user avatar
  • 4,273
15 votes
2 answers
23k 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 ...
Torisuda's user avatar
  • 2,083
15 votes
1 answer
339 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 ...
KittenWithAWhip's user avatar
14 votes
1 answer
1k 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 ...
user31078's user avatar
  • 361
14 votes
2 answers
14k 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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14 votes
4 answers
3k 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 — ...
Elena Kolumba's user avatar
13 votes
2 answers
7k 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 ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
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12 votes
2 answers
33k 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 ...
Rusty's user avatar
  • 139
12 votes
1 answer
245 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: ...
MickG's user avatar
  • 631
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 ...
Benjamin's user avatar
  • 6,233
10 votes
2 answers
657 views

Why was Welsh nationalist poet RS Thomas so critical of the Welsh people?

Welsh poet R.S. Thomas was an ardent Welsh nationalist and advocate for independence. Although a native English speaker he learned and conversed in Welsh, although he never felt fluent enough to use ...
Matt Thrower's user avatar
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9 votes
2 answers
976 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 ...
Mithical's user avatar
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9 votes
2 answers
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 ...
Benjamin's user avatar
  • 6,233
9 votes
3 answers
766 views

Who is the 'pale Titan-woman' in Swinburne's 'Ave atque Vale'?

For those fond of intertextual references, 'Ave atque Vale' by Algernon Charles Swinburne, an English poet's lament for the French poet Charles Baudelaire, is something of a goldmine, being absolutely ...
Tom Hosker's user avatar
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9 votes
1 answer
1k 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 ...
Gareth Rees's user avatar
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8 votes
2 answers
6k 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 ...
user avatar
8 votes
1 answer
134 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, ...
Narusan's user avatar
  • 917
8 votes
0 answers
425 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 ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
  • 74.1k
8 votes
3 answers
7k views

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, ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
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