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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0answers
21 views

How blank verse is “closest to the natural rhythms of English speech”? [duplicate]

I was reading a book and in that it was written Shakespeare has used this poetic form (the blank verse) skillfully in his dramas because it is closest to the natural rhythms of English speech, and ...
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What does “inward eye” mean?

William Wordsworth’s poem "The Daffodils" contains the following lines: For oft, when on my couch I lie, In vacant or in pensive mood, They flash upon that inward eye which is bliss of ...
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What does “Honor the Light Brigade” mean?

Alfred Lord Tennyson’s poem “The Charge of the Light Brigade”'s last stanza is When can their glory fade? Oh, the wild charge they made! All the world wondered. Honor the charge they made! Honor the ...
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Meaning of “Life is a prism of my light” in Sarojini Naidu’s poem “The Soul’s Prayer”

Sarojini Naidu was an Indian poetess. By chance I came upon one of her poems, which was titled “The Soul’s Prayer”. The last stanza of the poem goes like this: I, bending from sevenfold height Will ...
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Is “Our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thought” a deliberate contradiction by Shelley?

Shelley was admiring the “profuse strains” of the “blithe spirit” and when he compares human songs with the skylark’s Waking or asleep, Thou of death must deem Things more true and deep Than we ...
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What does Shelley mean by “if we could scorn fear” in “To a Skylark”?

Percy Bysshe Shelley’s “To a Skylark” discusses human nature as compared to the “blithe spirit”. Shelley all throughout the poem is sure that Skylark was in joy, he was not in dilemma as Wordsworth ...
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What is the actual meaning of verse?

I often hear people using the words “stanza” and “verse” interchangeably, the small quotes of The Holy Bible are also called verses, and even the non-chorus part of songs are also called verses. I’m ...
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What literary device is Walter de la Mare's “It is I” in “Napoleon”?

Walter de la Mare's short poem "Napoleon" goes like this: What is the world, O soldiers? It is I: I, this incessant snow, This northern sky; Soldiers, this solitude Through which we go Is I....
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117 views

What figure of speech is “change of mood” in Robert Frost's “Dust of Snow”?

From "Dust of Snow" by Robert Frost: Has given my heart A change of mood And saved some part Of a day I had rued. What figure of speech, or poetic device, is used in the line, "A ...
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1answer
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What does this quatrain of Goethe's (“Gesang der Geister über den Wassern”) mean?

What does this quatrain of Goethe's ("Gesang der Geister über den Wassern") mean? Seele des Menschen Wie gleichst du dem Wasser Schicksal des Menschen Wie gleichst du dem Wind Translation: ...
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How does “the socket drop them through” in “Aurora Leigh”?

In book V of Aurora Leigh (1856) by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Sir Blaise claims that in former days men chose their wives for their virtue and not for their décolletage: “My dear young friend, if ...
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56 views

What does “men in us” refer to in “Aurora Leigh”?

In book VI of Aurora Leigh (1856) by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, the heroine collides with a man in the streets of Paris: A gentleman abstracted as myself Came full against me, then resolved the ...
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Understanding and interpreting Yeats phases of the moon

I recently came across this lovely poem whilst watching the (excellent) TV show Rake The song will have it That those that we have loved got their long fingers From death, and wounds, or on Sinai's ...
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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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59 views

How was the context of “Old Ironsides” clear at its first publication?

Following links from another SE site, I ended up on the Wikipedia page for the poem "Old Ironsides" about the eponymous ship of the US Navy. Wikipedia tells us (with sources) about how this ...
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Why did Fontane choose to write “The Tragedy of Afghanistan”?

Theodor Fontane, a German poet, wrote "Das Trauerspiel von Afghanistan" (translated here as "The Tragedy of Afghanistan") in 1847. It's about the aftermath of a massacre suffered ...
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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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3answers
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How do these lines in Shakespeare's Sonnet 151 mean what they're supposed to?

How do these lines in Shakespeare's Sonnet 151 mean what they're supposed to? Here's the sonnet: Love is too young to know what conscience is, Yet who knows not conscience is born of love? Then, ...
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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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64 views

Meaning of this William Cowper quote about admirals?

When admirals, extoll’d for standing still, Or doing nothing with a deal of skill I read this quote on a loading screen in Empire: Total War (a video game), and after searching I found that it's from ...
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387 views

What is the “starry pole” in Blake's “Songs of Experience”?

Here's the beginning of "Introduction" from William Blake's Songs of Experience: Hear the voice of the Bard, Who present, past, and future, sees; Whose ears have heard The Holy Word That ...
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60 views

Who is George H. Murphy, author of “Iskander at the Bridge”?

I am trying to identify who George H. Murphy is? He wrote a poem entitled "Iskander at the Bridge" in 1903 in The News & Observer, [Raleigh, N.C.] November 01, 1903, p. 3.
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60 views

In what way can the image of bowels “packed in furnace” recall an image of a sea “tumbling in harness”?

I'm trying to get a grasp of a poetical image of being "packed in furnace", found in Ted Hughes' Crow's opening poem "Two Legends": Two Legends I Black was the without eye Black ...
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The grammatical function of “Nor” without “Neither” or “Not” in poetry

I've seen a number of examples of poetry, where "nor" appears without a preceding negative. In these examples, I'm unsure of whether I'm meant to understand the sentence as: "neither&...
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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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1answer
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Why is death a redeemer in Robinson Jeffers's “Hurt Hawks”?

The poem "Hurt Hawks" by Robinson Jeffers is about a red-tailed hawk whose wing is so badly hurt that he'll never be able to fly again. Two lines of this poem are as follows: The curs of ...
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2answers
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Identify a poem entitled Mock Song, written in middle English in the 13th-15th centuries

I'm looking for a middle English poem, written in the 13th-15th centuries, which I only have in translation (to Hebrew). The translated poem is found in a chapter that contains three additional poems, ...
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308 views

What is the meaning of “They talked of love and preached of love, But did not act so lovingly” in 'Childhood'?

The second stanza of the poem Childhood, written by Markus Natten: When did my childhood go? Was it the time I realised that adults were not all they seemed to be, They talked of love and preached of ...
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1answer
116 views

What is it time for in Paul Celan's “Corona”?

From Paul Celan's poem "Corona", available e.g. here in both the original German and an English translation: It is time that the stone took the trouble to bloom That an unrest’s heart ...
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1answer
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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 ...
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What kind of sonnet is Sonnet 24 of Sidney's “Astrophel and Stella”?

What kind of sonnet is Sonnet 24 of Philip Sidney's Astrophel and Stella? Here is the sonnet: Rich fools there be, whose base and filthy heart Lies hatching still the goods wherein they flow, And ...
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1answer
205 views

Why “in the midst of alarms” in William Cowper's poem “The Solitude of Alexander Selkirk”?

The second quatrain of William Cowper's poem "The Solitude of Alexander Selkirk" is: O Solitude! where are the charms That sages have seen in thy face? Better dwell in the midst of alarms, ...
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1answer
54 views

What is the correspondence of flowers with the spirit-world in Elizabeth Browning’s “Aurora Leigh”?

In book V of Aurora Leigh (1856) by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, the narrator says:                 there’s not a flower of spring, That dies ere June, but vaunts itself allied By issue and symbol, by ...
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Are birds a theme of Enrique Villasis's poetry, and why?

Enrique Villasis is a Filipino poet, and every poem of his that I've found is something to do with birds: Birds in Flight, 1965 Birds of Paradise, 1965 Birdman, 1973, and White Bird Dark Shadow, 1962 ...
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2answers
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How do we know that Shelley's “Adonais” refers to Byron and Moore?

In every site I've seen that analyzes Shelley's Adonais, they all agree that in the following stanza the "Pilgrim of Eternity" refers to Byron. Here is one example: From stanza 30 to 35, ...
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76 views

What inspired the “fakir in a box” in Elizabeth Browning's “Aurora Leigh”?

In book V of Aurora Leigh (1856) by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, the narrator makes an elaborate simile between the condition of the Earth in the interval between the Fall and the Incarnation, and a ...
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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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1answer
76 views

1955 in Otro poema de los dones by Jorge Luis Borges

In the poem Otro poema de los dones by Jorge Luis Borges, there is a line which refers to 1955. Is Borges, being Argentine, referring to the military coup to unseat President Juan Perón of Argentina? ...
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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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189 views

Does the original German version of Fontane's Tay Bridge poem contain the same literary references?

In this English translation of Theodor Fontane's poem "Die Brücke am Tay" (here translated as "The Bridge by the Tay", elsewhere also as "The Tay Bridge"), I noticed a ...
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1answer
97 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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2answers
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How do you become aware “of the earth as poetry”?

From p. 105 of National Geographic Stunning Photographs “It is only when we are aware of the earth and of the earth as poetry that we truly live.” ― Henry Beston How do you become aware "of ...
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1answer
56 views

Where is “Keumgang-Gul / Diamond Cave”?

This short poem by Ko Un is entitled, in its English translation by Sunny Jung, "Keumgang-Gul / Diamond Cave". I'm assuming that Keumgang-Gul is the original Korean title and it translates ...
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2answers
662 views

What is Litigious Little Bow in the Welsh poem “The Wind”?

The poem "The Wind" by 14th-century Welsh poet Dafydd ap Gwilym, which can be read online in an English translation by Gwyneth Lewis, mostly consists of an ode to the wind, described ...
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21 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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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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1answer
225 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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50 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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2answers
322 views

What's the connection between millennia of time travel and waiting for a bus?

One of Ko Un's very short poems, translated by Brother Anthony of Taizé and available on the Brief Poems blog, goes as follows: Some say they can recall a thousand years Some say they have already ...
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Charles Bukowski's poem about waking up every morning and trying to be a poet/writer

I tried to google it, I searched in libraries and can't find it. But 15 years ago I read a poem by Charles Bukowski where he describes how every morning he wakes up and tries to be a poet/writer. Any ...

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