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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6 votes
1 answer
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What is Krosyn?

"Play then, play" by Pauluk or Paŭli︠u︡k Bahrym (in the poetry anthology Like Water, like Fire) contains the following lines: ... But the bagpipes I must play, for I in Krosyn cannot stay ...
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5 votes
2 answers
5k views

From which book or essay are these words by Ralph Waldo Emerson? "Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year..."

A funeral director proposed the following reading for a service. This poem by Emerson: Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year. He is rich who owns the day, and no one owns ...
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3 votes
1 answer
1k views

John Agard's "In Times of Peace"

As for eyes, are eyes ready for the soft dance of a butterfly's bootless invasion? From "In times of peace" by John Agard. What could this mean? I have been thinking that it could reflect ...
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0 votes
1 answer
191 views

"Keeping Quiet" by Pablo Neruda – questions [closed]

I have multiple questions about the poem "Keeping Quiet" written by Pablo Neruda. I will list them one by one. In the second stanza, the poet has mentioned "not move our arms so much&...
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0 votes
0 answers
118 views

Are these lines from "Dulce et decorum est" an example of dehumanisation?

This: And watch the white eyes writhing in his face, His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin; Is a quote from British WW1 soldier-poet Wilfred Owen’s “Dulce et Decorum Est”. I was wondering if ...
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5 votes
0 answers
62 views

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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2 votes
0 answers
47 views

Looking for a short poem which is a parodic pastiche of Shakespeare plots (possibly published in the New Yorker)

A few years ago, in a poetry podcast, the guest read out a poem which was a parodic pastiche of Shakespeare plots. It wasn't based on any specific Shakespeare plot, but it was meant to seem like a ...
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4 votes
1 answer
198 views

Meaning behind “Where Once The Waters Of Your Face“

I recently read a poem called “Where Once The Waters Of Your Face” by Dylan Thomas. What does it mean? I feel there are a lot of terms related to sailing but I’m not sure I understand it completely. ...
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5 votes
2 answers
172 views

What are we to understand by "panther" in this Old English poem?

"The Panther" is an Old English poem, preserved in the Exeter Book, and translated in full by Aaron Hostetter. It's a poem about a panther, but what would the ancient Germanic peoples of ...
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-1 votes
1 answer
104 views

Iambic pentameter and mono syllables [closed]

I am studying poetry structure and I am focusing on iambic pentameter at the moment. From what I have read, there are 10 syllables per line and 5 stressed and 5 unstressed syllables. It goes ...
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2 votes
1 answer
96 views

Full English or French online translation of "De pugna avium"

I am trying very hard to find an English (or if not French) translation of the Carolingian poem "De pugna avium" from Theodulf of Orleans. I found a Latin version in the Bibliotheca ...
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  • 131
2 votes
1 answer
247 views

What are the "unknown land" and "eye of faith" in "Our Casuarina Tree"?

In the poem "Our Casuarina Tree" by Toru Dutt, between stanzas 3 & 4, there are the following 2 lines: That haply to the unknown land may reach. Unknown, yet well-known to the eye of ...
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1 vote
0 answers
22 views

What do light and dark signify in Ai's "Woman to Man"?

Ai's poem "Woman to Man" starts with a striking description of lightning, with darkness being symbolised by a "knife [...] deep in the walls". This might be taken as just scene-...
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6 votes
2 answers
153 views

Is there any known tune for the last two verses of Rudyard Kipling's Parade Song of the Camp Animals?

The last section of the Jungle Book is a song by the animals serving in the army in India, split into sections for each animal. For the first four sections the verses closely mirror well known tunes ...
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  • 781
10 votes
1 answer
181 views

How does "handwriting" provide evidence for dating Beowulf's composition to "the first half of the eighth century"?

The Wikipedia article for Beowulf has this interesting bit in the "Authorship and date" section: On the other hand, some scholars argue that linguistic, palaeographical (handwriting), ...
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  • 7,302
4 votes
1 answer
82 views

Original Poems from Notes from the City of the Sun

I am interested in finding the original Chinese poems used in Notes from the City of the Sun by Bonnie S. McDougall. I know the poems are from Bei Dao, and, according to this webpage, the poems used ...
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  • 63
6 votes
2 answers
4k views

What figure of speech is "transient feet" in "A Photograph" by Shirley Toulson?

In the poem "A Photograph" by Shirley Toulson, the phrase "transient feet" appears in the last line of the first stanza: All three stood still to smile through their hair At the ...
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5 votes
1 answer
85 views

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
1 answer
233 views

Is there a difference between Russian and English speaking cultures in the sense of rhythm when reciting poetry?

It may a vague question, but I haven't found any data on this myself. I am Russian and I've heard a lot of reading of Russian poetry, since my childhood (poetry reading by heart is a staple assignment ...
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  • 1,125
9 votes
1 answer
720 views

What is a "roomy heart"?

There's a phrase in "Alms-Giving" that I'm confused about. First, here's the original, untranslated text: Wel bið þam eorle      þe him on innan hafað, reþehygdig wer,      rume heortan; ...
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  • 7,302
3 votes
1 answer
313 views

What does the poem "Philosophy" by Nissim Ezekiel mean?

Here is the poem "Philosophy" by Nissim Ezekiel. What do the parts in bold mean? There is a place to which I often go, Not by planning to, but by a flow Away from all existence, to a cold ...
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2 votes
1 answer
89 views

What's the meter of "Song of Young Girl" by William Lang?

What's the meter of the poem "Song of Young Girl" by William Lang? The first three stanzas are: Softly I walk through the forest The owl sleeps in the thicket I hear the voice of the lake ...
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5 votes
1 answer
279 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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3 votes
0 answers
45 views

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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  • 31
3 votes
1 answer
89 views

What is the lion in Tiel Aisha Ansari's "Dervish Lion"?

Tiel Aisha Ansari's poem "Dervish Lion" is in four parts, the narrator speaking to the wind, a mountain, the tide, and a lion. (Possibly corresponding to four elements, if the lion can be ...
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  • 63.4k
6 votes
1 answer
153 views

Why is Sonnet 35 of Spenser's Amoretti repeated as Sonnet 83 later in the sequence?

Why are the sonnets 35 and 83 the same in Spenser's Amoretti? I was on luminarium.org when I spotted it. Except the italicized "Narcissus" in 35 and the regular font of the same in 83 and ...
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2 votes
1 answer
50 views

Robert Ronnow's "East Harlem to the Grand Tetons"

Robert Ronnow has a lot of poetry on his website, and this question is about "East Harlem to the Grand Tetons", a poem from his collection Brother Death, which the poet makes freely ...
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  • 63.4k
1 vote
1 answer
146 views

In "Sordello", how do we know the rejected spirit is Shelley?

In book I of Sordello (1840) by Robert Browning, the speaker addresses a group of spirits, Summoned together from the world’s four ends, Dropped down from heaven or cast up from hell, To hear the ...
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  • 39.9k
4 votes
0 answers
112 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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  • 39.9k
13 votes
2 answers
3k views

What literary work is being referred to in this limerick in which "The earth, like an orange, is blue"?

In the blog post Famous Poems Rewritten as Limericks on LanguageHat.com (2 April 2018), a certain Trond Engen posted the following limerick: The earth, like an orange, is blue. Your love and your ...
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  • 38.4k
3 votes
1 answer
155 views

Apostrophes at the beginning of stanzas in Byron's "The Giaour"

My question is about Byron's The Giaour and the opening apostrophe at the beginning of a stanza. For example: 'His floating robe around him folding, Slow sweeps he through the columned aisle; With ...
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  • 549
4 votes
2 answers
80 views

Who are the pronouns referring to in the Mauritanian poem "You Will Tell Them"?

Mariem Mint Derwich's poem "You Will Tell Them", available in English translation from Words Without Borders, appears to be about a Mauritanian woman, perhaps "the" woman of ...
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  • 63.4k
3 votes
0 answers
52 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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  • 7,302
3 votes
3 answers
186 views

What do you call the "message" written before a poem?

From Re Judicial by Baticuling (Jesús Balmori) in El libro de mis vidas manileñas (1928) Before the first stanza, the author begins with a little message: "Antonio Manipula, juez ... y ...
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6 votes
1 answer
228 views

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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  • 63.4k
4 votes
1 answer
237 views

Effect of enjambment in "The Red Wheelbarrow" by William Carlos Williams

In "The Red Wheelbarrow" the poet William Carlos Williams uses enjambment to great effect (or so I have read): so much depends upon a red wheel barrow glazed with rain water beside the ...
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2 votes
0 answers
140 views

What is going on in the first stanza of Audre Lorde's "Never to Dream of Spiders"?

The first half of the first stanza of Audre Lorde's "Never to Dream of Spiders" goes like this: Time collapses between the lips of strangers my days collapse into a hollow tube soon ...
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  • 19.5k
1 vote
0 answers
16 views

Walter Malone's "The World is My Home"

Walter Malone's poem "The World is My Home" is, on the face of it, openly a plea for humanity to come together as one united brotherhood rather than engage in disputes and wars: Travel to ...
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  • 63.4k
7 votes
1 answer
97 views

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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  • 173
12 votes
1 answer
1k views

What is the "a-" prefix in "a-flying" and "a-getting" in Herrick's "To the Virgins"?

From Robert Herrick's "To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time": Gather ye Rose-buds while ye may,     Old Time is still a-flying: And this same flower that smiles to day,     To morrow will ...
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11 votes
2 answers
820 views

Is there a term for epic poetry’s detailed, successive introductions of multiple characters?

I’ve noticed a topos in a few epic poems I’ve read where a long list of characters is given, each receiving practically a paragraph of description. In The Argonautica of Apollonius of Rhodes, Jason’s ...
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1 vote
0 answers
53 views

Why does Sir Harry like Matthias's poem and not Basil's?

In Mattimeo, Chapter 29, the rescuers' party encounters Sir Harry, an owl who speaks in poetry for much of his dialogue. For one example, this is how he introduces himself: "Why, pray, do you ...
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  • 7,302
1 vote
1 answer
156 views

What does "a star" symbolize here?

Each morning gives thee wings to flee from hell, Each night a star to guide thy feet to heaven. This verse has been taken from the poem "Opportunity" by Walter Malone. What does "a ...
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4 votes
1 answer
147 views

What is the figure of speech used in this part of "Cataract Operation"?

What is the figure of speech used in these lines taken from the Simon Armitage poem "Cataract Operation"? the olé of a crimson towel. the cancan of a ra ra skirt, the monkey business of a ...
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5 votes
1 answer
2k views

What's the first appearance of the rhyme about "He died defending his right of way"?

There's a little poem that goes something like this: Here lies the body of Thomas Grey, Who died defending his right of way. He was perfectly right as he sped along, But he's just as dead as if he'd ...
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  • 223
2 votes
1 answer
90 views

What do superscript circles mean in poetry?

I am reading a book on the collected works of Alexander Pope. Peppered throughout his poems are little superscript circles or degrees symbols, seen in this image of the text (transcribed below) What ...
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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 ...
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3 votes
2 answers
121 views

In what way can a utility coat be a mockery in a Ted Hughes' "Crow" poem?

In Ted Hughes' Examination at the Womb-door (of the Crow collection), Crow's organs are listed with certain kinds of descriptions (bold is mine): Examination at the Womb-door Who owns these scrawny ...
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  • 1,394
2 votes
1 answer
91 views

English translation of "Encargo"

Is there an English translation of "Encargo" by Julio Cortázar? I've not been able to find one online.
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3 votes
1 answer
209 views

What do the yellow banners in Edgar Allan Poe's "The Haunted Palace" symbolize?

The story "The Fall of the House of Usher" by Edgar Allan Poe contains a poem, "The Haunted Palace", which starts like this: In the greenest of our valleys,     By good angels ...
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