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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8 votes
4 answers
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What might "And God, for a Frontier." mean in "I am afraid to own a Body—"?

I don't understand the second stanza of I am afraid to own a Body— by Emily Dickinson. Double Estate—entailed at pleasure Upon an unsuspecting Heir— Duke in a moment of Deathlessness And God, for a ...
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20 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 ...
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11 votes
3 answers
2k views

What does "But... They went home" mean in Maya Angelou's "They Went Home"?

Maya Angelou's "They Went Home" opens like this: They went home and told their wives, that never once in all their lives, had they known a girl like me, But... They went home. The end of ...
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  • 19.5k
2 votes
0 answers
53 views

Which version of William Blake's "Jerusalem" did John Reith recite to celebrate the end of the General Strike?

In his 1PM radio broadcast on 12 May 1926, John Reith, managing director of the BBC, recited William Blake's "And did those feet in ancient time" (also known as "Jerusalem") [1] to ...
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6 votes
0 answers
111 views

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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  • 220
2 votes
1 answer
181 views

William Ernest Henley's "Invictus"

I am not able to understand William Ernest Henley's poem "Invictus" properly, except the last two lines. Can someone explain in detail the meaning of this poem? Out of the night that covers ...
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2 votes
0 answers
29 views

I'm looking for a certain haiku about kusarigama in Japanese

The haiku I'm looking for is probably of an anonymous author. I got a hint on a Japanese message board that it's maybe Musashi's one and I should find it in Eiji Yoshikawa's famous novel, but it's not ...
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5 votes
1 answer
168 views

Stephen Spender's "An Elementary School Classroom in a Slum"

This is the last stanza of the poem 'An Elementary School Classroom in a Slum' by Stephen Spender: Unless, governor, inspector, visitor, This map becomes their window and these windows That shut upon ...
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  • 141
5 votes
1 answer
315 views

Why are the lotos-eaters "mild-eyed" and "melancholy"?

In Tennyson's famous poem "The Lotos-eaters", a group of mariners find themselves on an island inhabited by "Lotos-eaters", and themselves decide to stay after eating lotos has had ...
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1 vote
1 answer
66 views

What do these lines mean in Ivor Gurney's "Laventie"?

Could you please help me understand the meaning of a poem by Ivor Gurney, an Englishman who fought in the First World War. From his "Laventie": Of Maconachie, Paxton, Tickler, and ...
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1 vote
0 answers
51 views

What's the significance of the name "Johnnie" in "The Bridge by the Tay"?

There's only one named character in this translation of Fontane's "Die Brück’ am Tay" ("The Bridge by the Tay"): "Johnnie". Johnnie shows up twice in the poem: Now, ...
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5 votes
1 answer
80 views

Why does "The Tragedy of Afghanistan" suddenly switch to second-person in the second-to-last verse?

Here's the second-to-last verse from a translation of Fontane's "Das Trauerspiel von Afghanistan" ("The Tragedy of Afghanistan"): They played all night and the following day, They ...
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  • 7,302
1 vote
0 answers
78 views

The first line of "God's Grandeur"

The first line of Gerard Manley Hopkins's sonnet "God's Grandeur" is: The world is charged with the grandeur of God. What I found on the Internet regarding the analysis of this line was ...
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5 votes
1 answer
132 views

What is the dialect in "The Origin of White Folks" and what does it add to the poem?

I found "The Origin of White Folks" by Annie Virginia Culbertson (it's pretty far down the page) while reading a news article and became intrigued by its accent. The poem is clearly written ...
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  • 7,302
4 votes
1 answer
287 views

What does the line "You're all that I can call my own" mean in Maya Angelou's "Woman Work"?

The first half of Maya Angelou's "Woman Work" details the extremely busy life of the narrator, ranging from taking care of a baby to mending clothes to picking cotton. The second half ...
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4 votes
0 answers
111 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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7 votes
2 answers
632 views

Meaning of "Where the return stands by disdain" in a poem by Thomas Wyatt

From "Who list his wealth and ease retain", by Thomas Wyatt: Who list his wealth and ease retain, Himself let him unknown contain. Press not too fast in at that gate Where the return stands ...
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  • 2,387
8 votes
1 answer
232 views

Is Keats' swan with "neck of arched snow" an allusion to Milton's "swan with arched neck"?

I discovered something quite interesting today in John Milton's Paradise Lost. Here is Milton (this is the Archangel Raphael relating to Adam and Eve the creation of the world):                       ...
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  • 99
0 votes
1 answer
114 views

How does “The Second Coming” form the background for “A Prayer for My Daughter”?

I was reading William Butler Yeats's “A Prayer for My Daughter”. The book which I was reading had a box named “Aid to Comprehend the poem” and in that box were written these lines: The poem [A Prayer ...
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5 votes
1 answer
278 views

Why was John Keats called a poet “who was kill’d off by one critique”?

In Canto XI of Lord Byron’s magnificent work Don Juan, romantic poet Keats is mentioned as a poet who was kill’d off by one critique. Why he was referred to like that? And which critique was it?
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2 votes
0 answers
18 views

How is the poem “Gerontion” affected by being told in the first person?

The poem ‘Gerontion’ by T.S. Eliot is about an old man and his life. The very first lines if the poem are as follows: Here I am, an old man in a dry month, Being read to by a boy, waiting for rain. ...
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1 vote
1 answer
94 views

What did Keats mean by “it is not without a feeling of regret that I make it public” in his preface to "Endymion"?

John Keats, in the Preface to Endymion, wrote: Knowing within myself the manner in which this poem has been produced, it is not without a feeling of regret that I make it public. Why did he express ...
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-1 votes
1 answer
946 views

Who is the “close bosom-friend of the maturing sun”?

John Keats, in his ode "To Autumn", writes Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun. Who is the close bosom-friend of the maturing sun?
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1 vote
1 answer
218 views

Comprehending “how but in custom and ceremony are innocence and beauty born”

“A Prayer for My Daughter” is a poem written by W.B. Yeats on the birth of his daughter. One of the themes of the poem is contrasting the future he desires for his daughter with the life of Maud Gonne,...
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1 vote
1 answer
193 views

How can pleasant thoughts bring sad thoughts to the mind?

“Lines Written in the Early Spring” is English Romantic poet William Wordsworth’s meditation on the harmony of nature and on humanity’s failure to follow nature’s peaceful example. However, in the ...
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2 votes
1 answer
82 views

Do the opening lines of Frost’s poem “After Apple-Picking” contain a biblical reference?

Robert Frost's poem ‘After Apple-Picking’, collected in North of Boston (1914), is a well-known poem on man’s encounter with the natural world, probing the dilemma of his existence. The first two ...
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0 votes
1 answer
109 views

Is this line from Shelley’s A Lament an allusion to his Skylark?

The poem A Lament by P.B. Shelley goes like this O world! O Life! O Time! On whose last steps I climb, Trembling at that where I stood before; When will return the glory of your prime? No more, —O ...
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2 votes
1 answer
110 views

Why did Tennyson write "The Brook" from the brook's first-person perspective?

In the poem "The Brook", Tennyson speaks about the journey of a small brook which later joins a mighty river. The poem is narrated in the first person by the small brook: I come from haunts ...
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0 votes
1 answer
32 views

Can Edgar Allan Poe’s Alone be analyzed in the light of Existential Loneliness? [duplicate]

Can Edgar Allan Poe’s Alone be analyzed in the light of Existential Loneliness? The very first lines From childhood’s hour I have not been As others were—I have not seen As others saw—I could not ...
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2 votes
0 answers
33 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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-1 votes
1 answer
387 views

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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-1 votes
1 answer
81 views

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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2 votes
2 answers
63 views

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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-2 votes
1 answer
53 views

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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0 votes
1 answer
55 views

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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1 vote
1 answer
737 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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  • 13
5 votes
1 answer
86 views

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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3 votes
1 answer
70 views

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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  • 39.9k
4 votes
1 answer
70 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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  • 39.9k
3 votes
1 answer
542 views

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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6 votes
0 answers
204 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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2 votes
2 answers
130 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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  • 63.4k
4 votes
1 answer
255 views

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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  • 7,302
5 votes
0 answers
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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  • 191
11 votes
3 answers
2k views

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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  • 175
6 votes
0 answers
84 views

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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  • 7,302
1 vote
1 answer
117 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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9 votes
1 answer
754 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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  • 193
4 votes
1 answer
71 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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  • 95
2 votes
1 answer
69 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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