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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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 ...
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What's the origin of the rhyme “My friend Billy had a ten foot willy”?

A simple rhyming song which I heard growing up and which still gets stuck in my head every so often: My friend Billy had a ten foot willy. He stuck it through the neighbour's door. OR He showed ...
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About Sappho's epigram for the little girl Aithopia: first line (manuscript tradition and experts' take), and authorship

Background and research As I am planning to post this poem on my blog relatively soon, I was doing some research on the first line. From what I had written previously, I seem to have found two ...
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388 views

Who is the author of this contradictory poem starting “The night was dark and stormy”?

Does anyone know the name of or the author of the poem below? My grandfather used to say it all of the time and I would like to read it at his funeral. It's very silly and goes something like this: ...
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548 views

In Baudelaire's “Chant d'automne”, why isn't the hidden rhythm better known?

I noticed something remarkable about one of Baudelaire's poems that I can't find any mention of on the web. My question is whether anybody has noticed this before, and whether there's some reason why ...
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475 views

What is the deeper meaning of Blake's “The Lily”?

The poem "The Lily" by William Blake must be one of the shortest of his Songs of Innocence and of Experience collection, only four lines long: The modest Rose puts forth a thorn, The humble sheep ...
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178 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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Edna St. Vincent Millay's “Figs from Thistles: First Fig”

Edna St. Vincent Millay's very short poem "Figs from Thistles: First Fig" goes as follows: My candle burns at both ends;    It will not last the night; But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends—  ...
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Poem-parody about O'Hare airport, written as though it were the Odyssey

I'm trying to find a poem that I'm relatively certainly was published in The New Yorker. I think I read it around 10 years ago, but definitely a margin of error of a couple of years on either side of ...
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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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53 views

What's the first “reverse” poem?

I recently discovered an interesting type of poetry. When read one way, it says one thing and when read a different way, the opposite, all with the same words. A sub-type of these is known as the ...
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Was Fontane's Tay Bridge poem compared to McGonagall's at the time?

The Tay Bridge Disaster is one of the most famous bridge collapses. It inspired a universally reviled (yet nevertheless wildly (in)famous) poem from William McGonagall, "The Tay Bridge Disaster&...
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Understanding the plotline of “The Smile” by Ted Hughes

I'm reading Ted Hughes' "The Smile" (text version), and I'm trying to understand its plotline. More specifically: what's the nature of the scenes wherein the poem's protagonist, the smile, ...
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113 views

What do you call a break in rhyming in the middle of a book / poem for dramatic effect?

I'm creating a children's book for a school project. I've been tasked to identify some literary devices used throughout the book. There is a section of the book which I want to highlight because it ...
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727 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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Which original Persian poem of Rumi does this refer to?

Does anyone know which is the Persian text for the below poem by Rumi ? I choose to love you in silence… For in silence I find no rejection, I choose to love you in loneliness… For in loneliness no ...
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What does Tiriel's blindness symbolize?

In Tiriel, it's mentioned several times that Tiriel is blind, first in Chapter I, line 27: Look at my eyes, blind as the orbless skull among the stones! And later again in Chapter II, lines 61-65: ...
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Who is the 'one who had lifted it' in Shelley's sonnet about 'the painted veil'?

In Shelley's famous sonnet, which begins 'Lift not the painted veil', the "turn" is placed - unusually - in the seventh line. Lift not the painted veil which those who live Call Life: ...
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56 views

How is capitalization being used in Maya Angelou's “On the Pulse of Morning”?

I was looking through Maya Angelou's "On the Pulse of Morning", and noticed that there's an interesting use of capitalization in the poem. (I checked multiple version to make sure that this ...
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118 views

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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106 views

Who wrote the poem that begins, “The Yeti, experts will attest . . .”

The Yeti, experts will attest, is physically unkempt at best. And due to this may go for weeks, alone amidst the snowy steeps. (Goes on to tell how he is looking for his "yet unmet counterpart".)
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'meter' vs. 'rhythm': How do their meanings in poetry differ from those in music?

'meter' and 'rhythm' are termed in poetry and music. So what are their parallels? Their differences? Source: Listening to Music (2013 7 ed, but ∃ 8 ed) by Yale Prof. Craig Wright: [p. 463] meter: ...
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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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Is my controlling idea for my poem analysis accurate?

This is my current controlling idea of my essay on the poem "On Pleasure": "The speaker challenges the idea of pleasure in the minds of the audience, and argues that pleasure is an ...
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Why are William Mcgonagall's poems considered so terrible?

While writing up the wiki excerpt for william-mcgonagall a couple of weeks back, I came upon a rather surprising remark about him in Wikipedia: He won notoriety as an extremely bad poet who exhibited ...
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60 views

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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Why does isolating “there” on its own line sound less emphatic in Korean than English?

I was reading Translator’s Note: Three Poems by Ko Un from the Poetry Foundation and came across this excerpt: We translated “명사도 동사도 다” (“all nouns and verbs”) as “all words,” which sounds less ...
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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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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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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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177 views

Is Hemingway's poem entitled MITRAILLIATRICE or MITRAIGLIATRICE?

I read -- a few months ago -- Hemingway's juvenilia poetry & short-story collection stoically entitled Three Stories & Ten Poems. It was published in the early 1920s -- I think 1923, but I've ...
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Is there a name for poems where each verse is a time period?

I'm having a hard time finding examples of this, but I found one by a man named Darryl Davis, called Almanac of a man, that goes like this: When I was five, I was supreme ruler of a boundless ...
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320 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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What form of poem is “A Child of Mine” by Edgar Guest?

What form of poem (ie. sonnet, limerick, haiku, etc.) is Edgar Guest's "A Child of Mine?"
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Does the poem 'In Just' (e. e. cummings) allude to innocents being led astray by the devil?

In the poem in Just, (1) the balloon man whistles and children come running. On the surface, this could simply be about a man selling balloons and children wanting to buy them. But we know that e. e. ...
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How is the connection between the picture on page 59 and the last line of “Allison Beals and Her 25 Eels” shown in other publications of the poem?

"Allison Beals and Her 25 Eels" is a poem in Falling Up by Shel Silverstein. It describes how Allison uses 24 eels -- as shoelaces, earrings, ladle, etc. The 25th, however, is different. The poem ends ...
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Who is “you” in “The Waking”?

I'm trying to understand Roethke's "The Waking", and one of my problems is that I'm not sure who "you" is. Most of the poem uses "I" or "my", etc.. There are a ...
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Are there different formats of haikus?

This is similar to this question but not exactly the same. I have seen haikus in the following formats: The traditional / which is in five-seven-five / and is most common But I have also read that ...
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Why these specific “things that fly” in “Kite-Flying”?

Rose Justice, the main character of Rose Under Fire, writes several poems that appear in various places in the book. This is the second verse of Kite-Flying: Hope waits stubbornly, watching the sky ...
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What does Silverweed's poem signify?

Richard Adams's novel Watership Down has a memorable episode in a warren full of big, healthy rabbits ("Cowslip's warren") who are kept in good shape by a man leaving food for them, have ...
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Is there any significance to the lemons and the port in Ko Un's “Asking the Way”?

"Asking the Way" is a short poem by Ko Un, addressing "You fools who ask what god is" and telling them to ask about life instead, illustrating the principle with examples about ...
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174 views

“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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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 does Tagore not consistently use ‘thou’ when addressing the supreme being in Gitanjali?

The large majority of poems in the English version of Tagore's Gitanjali address a supreme being. Tagore uses the pronouns "thou", "thee" and "thy" in almost all of these ...
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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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Emily Jane Pfeiffer’s “To the Blind Architect of the City of Life”

Emily Jane Pfeiffer’s sonnet ‘To the Blind Architect of the City of Life, whose Humble Homes are the Creatures of Earth, Water, and Air, and whose “Meeting-House” is Man’ was first published in Littel’...
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What do the silks and tattoos represent in Sui-Yun's poem about Eve?

One of the Peruvian writer Sui-Yun's Four Short Poems (translated from Spanish by Jennifer Shyue) is written as addressed to "Eve, my eternal mother". I hope I'm not being excessively dirty-...
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How does the change in syllables change the reading in Maya Angelou's “Still I Rise”?

In the opening stanza of Maya Angelou's "Still I Rise", the syllables go 9 / 7 / 9 / 6. The second verse goes 8 / 7 / 9 / 7. All of these are within two or three syllables of each other, and ...
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135 views

The motif of Tom O' Bedlam

The 17th-century motif of Tom O' Bedlam has always been one that I hold much affection and wonder for (as can be assumed by the choice of username on my part.) The motif most famously makes an ...