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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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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11 votes
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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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9 votes
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What is the name of a poem about relativity?

I am looking for a specific poem I read years ago. It was a poem on relativity and theories on the universe. I do not remember the author but I know she was female and either Spanish or Portuguese. ...
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8 votes
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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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8 votes
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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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7 votes
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Why does Tahir Hamut Izgil speak "the names of ants" he's known?

Reading Tahir Hamut Izgil's "Somewhere Else"*, I was confused by why "ants" specifically were brought up here: night after night one after another I spoke the names of ants I’ve ...
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7 votes
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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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7 votes
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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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6 votes
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What did Yeats in his late period think of his early work?

The poetry of W.B. Yeats is commonly seen as belonging to three rough phases. The first is a Romantic and pre-Raphaelite style of flowery verse which commonly invokes figures of Irish mythology. The ...
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6 votes
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Rhyme scheme in two of William Blake's poems

I have a question regarding rhymes in two English poems by William Blake. Here is the first poem, "The Ecchoing Green": The sun does arise, And make happy the skies. The merry bells ring To ...
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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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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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6 votes
1 answer
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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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6 votes
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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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6 votes
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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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5 votes
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What is an "intermezzo from the dusky elm's trunk"?

Phone Call by Tahir Hamut (full text on Words Without Borders) contains the following line: An intermezzo from the dusky elm’s trunk fans the spirit lamp into a bonfire I'm somewhat confused by the ...
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5 votes
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What does the ellipsis in Machado's poem 'Pegasos, lindos pegasos' mean?

What does the ellipsis in Machado's poem 'Pegasos, lindos pegasos' mean? I don't know what all those dots represent. Maybe it is something specific I'm not aware of. Here is the poem. Pegasos, lindos ...
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5 votes
1 answer
319 views

What does the final stanza of "Thrushes" by Ted Hughes mean?

Here is the third stanza of "Thrushes" by Ted Hughes: With a man it is otherwise. Heroisms on horseback, Outstripping his desk-diary at a broad desk, Carving at a tiny ivory ornament For ...
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5 votes
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86 views

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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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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5 votes
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114 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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5 votes
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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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5 votes
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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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5 votes
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216 views

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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5 votes
1 answer
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Does Auden's poem 'The Model' refer to any particular painting?

I re-read 'The Model' by W H Auden earlier today, and I was struck by how good it is. I've venerated Auden since I was sixteen, but I hadn't appreciated this poem properly until now. I find myself ...
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4 votes
0 answers
30 views

What does this mean about the interpretation of Lauretta's song at the end of Day 3?

At the end of Day 3 of the Decameron, Lauretta sings the following song after dinner, at the request of the new "king" Filostrato: What dame disconsolate May so lament as I, That vainly ...
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4 votes
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72 views

Who wrote this particular poem in Zinky Boys?

Zinky Boys refers to the following (rather morbid in my opinion) poem: Women and wine are fine But a real man needs more The sweet taste of war The interviewee mentioned that that bit of verse was ...
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4 votes
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114 views

What is the “presence” in Wordsworth’s ‘Tintern Abbey’?

In Wordsworth’s ‘Lines written a few miles above Tintern Abbey’ he describes a “presence”:                                 And I have felt A presence that disturbs me with the joy Of elevated ...
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4 votes
0 answers
116 views

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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4 votes
0 answers
100 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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4 votes
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59 views

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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4 votes
0 answers
29 views

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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4 votes
0 answers
158 views

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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4 votes
0 answers
62 views

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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4 votes
0 answers
322 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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4 votes
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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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4 votes
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217 views

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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4 votes
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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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4 votes
0 answers
235 views

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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3 votes
0 answers
38 views

Scanning Langston Hughes' "The South"

Here's the poem "The South" by Langston Hughes scanned by me (a non-native English speaker): The lazy, laughing South With blood on its mouth. The sunny-faced South, Beast-strong, Idiot-...
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3 votes
0 answers
65 views

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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  • 31
3 votes
0 answers
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Looking for an elegy poem about a flower the narrator cared for (at the cost of enjoying life), which died and left him devastated

I'm looking for an elegy-style poem in which the narrator recounts ignoring the beautiful flowers around them, instead attending to a single flower that had yet to bloom. They thought this one flower ...
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3 votes
0 answers
54 views

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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3 votes
0 answers
59 views

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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3 votes
0 answers
137 views

Ko Un's "Around Unmun Temple at Ch'Eongdo"

Ko Un's poem "Around Unmun Temple at Ch'Eongdo" can be read, in its English translation by Sunny Jung (and Hillel Schwartz?), at the Poetry Foundation website. There's a lot to unpack in ...
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3 votes
0 answers
52 views

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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3 votes
0 answers
424 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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3 votes
0 answers
57 views

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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3 votes
0 answers
44 views

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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