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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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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
28 votes
2 answers
3k views

Did Poe plagiarise someone else's work when writing "The Raven"?

I've read that Poe's been accused of lifting significant elements from many authors including Elizabeth Barrett, Charles Dickens, Leo Penzoni, and Thomas Holley Chivers (and "unknown," of course). ...
BESW's user avatar
  • 5,032
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
26 votes
7 answers
9k views

Does "The Charge of the Light Brigade" glorify war or criticize it?

The Charge of the Light Brigade is an 1854 narrative poem at the Battle of Balaclava during the Crimean War. Does it glorify war or criticize it?
kenorb's user avatar
  • 1,135
26 votes
1 answer
710 views

Is the mariner immortal?

I pass, like night, from land to land; I have strange power of speech; That moment that his face I see, I know the man that must hear me: To him my tale I teach. This is one of the last ...
user avatar
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
23 votes
1 answer
5k views

Which is the 'correct' version of "The Lady of Shalott" and why are there two?

It seems Tennyson wrote two versions of "The Lady of Shalott". They are quite similar but have some big differences, for example, the first stanza of the 1832 version is: On either side the ...
Mirte's user avatar
  • 3,043
22 votes
6 answers
9k views

In Ozymandias, who is the "ye" in the line "Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!" meant to be addressing?

Percy Bysshe Shelley's Ozymandias is a well-known and oft-referenced English-language poem from the early 19th century, and purports to quote — presumably in translation from Egyptian hieroglyphs — a ...
Mark S's user avatar
  • 345
22 votes
1 answer
613 views

Looking for a poem about the (fictionalized) writing of The Canterbury Tales Prologue

A friend of mine used to quote a poem that told the fictionalized story of Chaucer writing the first lines of the Prologue of The Canterbury Tales: "Whan that Aprill with his ... ". When he ...
D Mac's user avatar
  • 179
21 votes
2 answers
3k views

Did T.S. Eliot really plagiarize in "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock"?

I've been trying to do research to confirm my English teacher's claim that T. S. Eliot plagiarized works by Jules Laforgue, Henri Bergson, and Andrew Marvell in his poem "The Love Song of J. ...
Beth Hays's user avatar
  • 321
21 votes
2 answers
797 views

What circumstances is Bachchan referring to in this poem?

I came across a poem titled, Saathi, Sab Kuch Sahna Hoga (You have to tolerate this all, my friend) by Harivansh Rai Bachchan. I read this poem years ago and it is taken from an older book. Here is an ...
A J's user avatar
  • 491
21 votes
2 answers
2k views

Why does the Lady of Shalott stay instead of stray?

In Tennyson's poem "The Lady of Shalott" there is the following verse: There she weaves by night and day A magic web with colours gay. She has heard a whisper say, A curse is on her if she ...
Mirte's user avatar
  • 3,043
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
  • 30.1k
21 votes
1 answer
5k views

What is the symbolism of the final rise of the Kraken?

I've been studying a lot of Tennyson, and I recently read The Kraken. The first 12 lines seem relatively straightforward, describing the giant beast that sleeps at the bottom of the sea, but the final ...
HDE 226868's user avatar
  • 6,012
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 ...
user avatar
20 votes
5 answers
3k views

What does it mean to laugh like the letter k?

In Abuelito Who by Sandra Cisneros, the symbolic meaning of one line is quite confusing. The narrator is referring to her grandfather (abuelo), and she says he: who used to laugh like the letter k I'...
fi12's user avatar
  • 4,615
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
  • 3,043
19 votes
1 answer
5k views

Meaning of "The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed" in "Ozymandias"

From "Ozymandias" by Percy Bysshe Shelley:                                   Near them on the sand, Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold ...
Soha Farhin Pine's user avatar
18 votes
8 answers
8k views

Why does Robert Frost contradict himself in "The Road Not Taken"

In Robert Frost's poem "The Road Not Taken" (which you can read online), the narrator gives two contradictory reasons for taking a particular fork in the road. At the beginning of the poem, the ...
user avatar
18 votes
1 answer
3k views

Accented è in Blake's "The little ones leapèd, and shoutèd, and laugh'd / And all the hills echoèd."

Here is a poem by William Blake with some accented è's (Nurse's Song, 1789). How is this è pronounced? What is the background as to why the e bears an accent? When the voices of children are heard on ...
balteo's user avatar
  • 1,003
18 votes
1 answer
2k views

Children’s poem about a boy stuck between the tracks on the underground

When I was young I used to love Michael Rosen. Don’t put mustard in the custard and lots of silly ones like that. I also remember that there was a darker poem in one of the poem compilation books set ...
sam_smith's user avatar
  • 397
18 votes
2 answers
7k views

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 ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
  • 74.1k
18 votes
3 answers
10k views

What does the raven symbolize (besides death)?

Whenever I ask a friend about the symbolism of the Raven from The Raven, they always seem to say death. Is that the only thing the Raven is meant to symbolize?
Matrim Cauthon's user avatar
18 votes
1 answer
460 views

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 ...
Benjamin's user avatar
  • 6,233
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
17 votes
1 answer
2k views

How does the golden bough in "Sailing to Byzantium" relate to the story in the Aeneid, if at all?

According to Wikipedia of W.B. Yeats' "Sailing to Byzantium" is a metaphor for a spiritual journey. Yeats explores his thoughts and musings on how immortality, art, and the human spirit may ...
Vixen Populi's user avatar
  • 1,355
17 votes
2 answers
2k views

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 ...
user avatar
16 votes
1 answer
607 views

An imaginary young British poet who was invented as a literary hoax in the 1920s?

I think I read a brief piece about this a long time ago -- as in, over twenty years ago. (Possibly in some sort of literary reference book.) As near as I can recall, the following sequence of events ...
Lorendiac's user avatar
  • 419
15 votes
4 answers
3k views

Terminology and examples for what George Orwell calls "good bad poetry"?

Recently I bumped into an article where "The Poetry Foundation’s president, John Barr, takes a look at what separates “serious” poetry from the rest". Poetry being an art form, obviously no such ...
Ilmari's user avatar
  • 255
15 votes
1 answer
3k views

Limerick involves a pregnant Scottish woman and anagrams

Somewhere in the 1993-2000 time period, I had a hardback book of various linguistic oddities, I think with a red slip cover with white lettering. One of the items included was a limerick along the ...
Sean Duggan's user avatar
  • 10.9k
15 votes
1 answer
3k views

What makes the Sydney barber's remark rude?

In Banjo Paterson's poem "The Man from Ironbark", a city barber makes a supposedly rude remark to his country bumpkin customer: And as he soaped and rubbed it in he made a rude remark: &...
Jeremy's user avatar
  • 153
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 ...
user avatar
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
3 answers
2k views

Who chained the albatross to the mariner's neck?

In the long poem by Samuel Coleridge, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, the mariner talks about an albatross being chained to his neck: Instead of the cross, the albatross About my neck was hung. ...
user avatar
15 votes
1 answer
5k views

What happened on April 22, 1838?

The poem Kateryna by the Ukrainian poet Taras Shevchenko (also known as Kobzar) is dedicated to Vasilii Andreyevich Zhukovsky "in memory of April 22, 1838." What is this heading referring to?...
EJoshuaS - Stand with Ukraine's user avatar
15 votes
1 answer
3k views

What meter are "I lik the bred" poems in?

I'm trying to determine the meter of "i lik the bred" poems: "i lik the bred" is a series of short poems about a domesticated cow written by British author Sam Garland, better ...
AncientSwordRage's user avatar
15 votes
3 answers
9k views

Meaning of "all the boards did shrink" in The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

From The Rime of the Ancient Mariner: Water, water, every where, And all the boards did shrink; Water, water, every where, Nor any drop to drink. What is the meaning of this phrase in ...
CopperKettle's user avatar
  • 3,059
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 ...
user avatar
15 votes
1 answer
340 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
15 votes
1 answer
500 views

About l. 3 of the second stanza of Sappho's Ὠδὴ εἰς Ἀνακτωρίαν (Ode to Anactoria)

A long time ago, I translated all of Sappho's poems. In doing so, I had to reconstruct some parts of the texts, and do some amateur level criticism. One example of such work lies in the poem sometimes ...
MickG's user avatar
  • 631
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
  • 74.1k
15 votes
1 answer
628 views

Had Keats read any of Homer's works before reading Chapman's translation of them?

In "On First Looking into Chapman's Homer," John Keats writes: Oft of one wide expanse had I been told That deep-browed Homer ruled as his demesne; Yet never did I breathe its pure serene ...
Kevin Troy's user avatar
  • 2,120
14 votes
2 answers
279 views

Why is the month of Aprill masculine?

In the first line of the General Prologue of The Canterbury Tales, the month of April is given a masculine pronoun: Whan that Aprill, with his shoures soote Why is this?
user avatar
14 votes
2 answers
1k views

Have there been any scholarly attempts and/or consensus as regards the missing lines of "The Ruin"?

"The Ruin" is a poem in Old English by an unknown poet, preserved in The Exeter Book. It reflects on the fall of civilizations, and was likely inspired by the ruins of Roman Bath. But the ...
Matt Thrower's user avatar
  • 23.1k
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
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
  • 74.1k
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!...
user avatar
14 votes
4 answers
7k views

What does "The Edge of Doom" mean?

The following stanza is from Robert Frost's Into My Own: One of my wishes is that those dark trees, So old and firm they scarcely show the breeze, Were not, as ’twere, the merest mask ...
David542's user avatar
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