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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Why is it a mistake to “eliminate” rather than “analyse” in “Aurora Leigh”?

In book I of Aurora Leigh (1856) by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, the eponymous narrator describes the process of forming her values and beliefs out of a throng of idées reçus:                          ...
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Who coined the term ‘Shakespearean sonnet’?

So far, we have had at least two questions about the early history of the English sonnet: Who introduced the sonnet to English literature? Wyatt or Shakespeare? Why are Shakespearean sonnets called ...
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What are the originals of the poems Tagore has translated from English into Bengali?

Rabindranath Tagore's 1886 collection of verse কড়ি ও কোমল / ka.Di o komal, "Sharps and Flats", includes a set of 15 or so poems under the general heading বিদেশী ফূলের গুচ্ছ / videshii ...
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How to figure out if something is iambic pentameter?

I have an assignment where I have to write a Shakespearean sonnet for my professor (who is very strict about the formatting of the assignment). Are there any ways/tricks in which I can figure out if ...
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What does Elizabeth Browning mean by “turning up their under-natures”?

In book I of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Aurora Leigh (1856), the eponymous narrator describes the experience of reading poetry:                                 But the sun was high When first I ...
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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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Identifying a poem about life as a test

In my 8th grade social studies class two decades ago, we studied the following poem, recollected from memory: Life is but a savage test of who is least and who is best. Those who fall may lack the ...
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What is the significance of “southern” in Tagore's poem “A Hundred Years From Now”?

The Bengali poem "Aaji Hote Shata Barsha Pare" by Rabindranath Tagore, translated into English as "A Hundred Years Hence" or "A Hundred Years From Now", is a poem written ...
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60 views

Meaning of “Elizabeth Childers” by Edgar Lee Masters?

Here's the poem "Elizabeth Childers" by Edgar Lee Masters, published in Spoon River Anthology (1915): Dust of my dust, And dust with my dust, O, child who died as you entered the world, ...
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What language was Tagore's “This Dog” written in?

Disclaimer: this is going to be a stupidly obvious question for anyone who speaks either Hindi or Bengali, but with zero knowledge of either language I can't really eke out an answer. Apologies if ...
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How can I get better at remembering the subject in lengthy, complicated passages (poems or otherwise)?

I struggle, especially in poetry and older English books, with comprehension and I think one of the biggest problems is that I lose track of the subject that is in view during long passages that ...
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What is the original source of Rabindranath Tagore's “Endless Time”?

There is a poem "Endless Time" by Rabindranath Tagore as follows, which I interpret as being about a mortal human speaking to God, someone living a rushed human life and comparing it to God'...
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In which poem(s) in Day by Day does Robert Lowell describe erectile dysfunction?

Robert Lowell's Wikipedia page states that Helen Vendler, in contrast to certain other critics, praised Lowell's final publication, Day by Day, especially because of: his descriptions of impotence, ...
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Did “drink to someone” imply the same thing back then?

In a popular song Drink To Me Only with Thine Eyes, first published in 1616 as To Celia by Ben Jonson, did the phrase drink to someone mean the same thing as nowadays, i.e. to say cheers for someone? ...
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What does “It is not meet” mean in “Idylls of the King”?

From Idylls of the King: The Passing of Arthur by Alfred Tennyson: To him replied the bold Sir Bedivere: 'It is not meet, Sir King, to leave thee thus, Aidless, alone, and smitten through the helm— A ...
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What could “lavender-bag ancestors” mean in Ted Hughes' “Crow Improvises”?

In "Crow Improvises" (text version), the protagonist conjoins a list of disparate objects, where each pair of objects ignites a spark. Putting aside the symbolic meaning of each object, it ...
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Poem about a joker with disorganized attire

[throughout this question by 'English' I only mean the 'language English' ] I remember from my childhood a English language poem from a middle/high school general English textbook (India). I can only ...
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What's with the dogs in Mark Strand's “Eating Poetry”?

In Mark Strand's poem "Eating Poetry", the first several lines appear to be about a person who has been consuming poetry - I interpreted this as metaphorical, "eating" poetry as in ...
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Is there a published English translation of Muhammad Iqbal's “The Parliament of Satan”?

Muhammad Iqbal was a 19th-to-20th-century Muslim poet, philosopher, and politican, one of the most important figures in Urdu poetry and also influential in Farsi poetry, who received a British ...
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The Ballad of Rudolph Reed

I found different versions of the Gwendolyn Brooks´ "The Ballad of Rudolph Reed". Could someone provide me with a reliable version?
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Louise Glück's “Vespers”

The following poem "Vespers" comes from The Wild Iris, a 1992 book of poetry written by Louise Glück, the 2020 winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature. In your extended absence, you permit ...
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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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In Tagore's “Along the Way”, who is the entity that the “your touch” is referring to?

Rabindranath Tagore's "Along the Way" several times refers to "your touch", such as in this first stanza: As I walk along my way I receive your touch Now and then But I don’t know ...
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Why do the prayers stop in Tagore's “A Dream”?

At the end of Rabindranath Tagore's "A Dream", there's one part (the ending) that goes like this: At the gate The lamp went out In the temple On the banks of Shipra The prayers stopped. ...
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Seeking Title and Poet of Post WWI poem closing with “If there is no reward for devotion such as this, I'll take my chances in hell”

I'm seeking the title/author of a 1920-30s poem, closing with the phrase: If there is no reward for devotion such as this, I'll take my chances in hell. The narrator being a soldier returned from ...
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What is the meaning and significance of “urubutinga” in Mário de Andrade's “O lundu do escritor difícil”

The title is suggestive enough to elicit an understanding that Andrade probably purposefully made this poem difficult to read for people who are not familiar with Tupi culture. A conscious effort of ...
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What does “raised waves in my mind” mean in Tagore's “At the End of the Day”?

In Rabindranath Tagore's "At the End of the Day", there's one stanza that goes like this: To you I only pray – Before I go let me know Looking at the sky Why mother earth so green Gave me a ...
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Why was the narrator left alone on the shore in Tagore's “Sonar Tari”?

Rabindranath Tagore's poem 'Sonar Tari', written in Bengali, was translated into English as 'The Golden Boat'. The last stanza reads: ঠাঁই নাই, ঠাঁই নাই! ছোট সে তরী আমারি সোনার ধানে গিয়েছে ভরি’। শ্রা...
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43 views

Who is Tagore's “Cruel Kindness” addressed to?

Rabindranath Tagore's "Cruel Kindness" is written in the second person, addressing a "you": I seek so many things with all my heart But you have saved me denying. All through my ...
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“Yum yum pig's bum”

I saw a vernacular poem that appears to have been passed down and passed around in various parts of the UK. A couple of different versions: Yum yum Pig's bum Wrap it up In chewing gum Have a slice ...
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Why is love a “he” to Kahlil Gibran?

Then said Almitra, Speak to us of Love. And he raised his head and looked upon the people, and there fell a stillness upon them. And with a great voice he said: When love beckons to you, follow him, ...
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Why does the bow have to be stable in “The Prophet”?

I find the poetic imaginary in this verse from kind of disturbing: And a woman who held a babe against her bosom said, Speak to us of Children. And he said: Your children are not your children. They ...
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Can you identify this poem about axolotl, fish, salamander

I have some lines from my dad's favourite poem, but they’re jumbled as he was 94. The lines may not be in the correct order. He couldn’t remember the writer, and several internet searches have not ...
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Looking for a famous quote by William Wordsworth probably relevant to the concept of the Anthropocene

I've talked to someone who studied English literature and the concept of Anthropocene recently, and the person quoted Wordsworth during our conversation. Unfortunately I can not remember the quote, ...
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143 views

“The Laburnum Top” by Ted Hughes - poem explanation

I want to know the line by line explanation of the poem "The Laburnum Top" (written by Ted Hughes). Source (Page 31) The Laburnum top is silent, quite still In the afternoon yellow ...
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Why is the short Vietnamese piece “Learning Late Letters” called a “poem”?

"Learning Late Letters", originally written in Vietnamese by Nguyễn Hoàng Quyên, was one of the winners of the 2020 Words Without Borders Academy of Americans Poets Poems in Translation ...
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Julia Wong Kcomt, “The Red Rooster”

The Chinese-Peruvian poet Julia Wong Kcomt wrote two poems for Words Without Borders about her experiences as a product of two different cultures. I'm particularly interested in the first of them, ...
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Are the names J. Alfred Prufrock and Hugh Selwyn Mauberley completely arbitrary?

T.S. Eliot's first professionally published poem was "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock", in which Eliot narrates the experience of a character named J. Alfred Prufrock. Similarly, Ezra ...
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How to scan the “Clark” poem from “One Fish, Two Fish”?

One of my favorite things about Dr. Seuss's One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish is the combination of rhyme and rhythm or meter in its poems. I think I've found satisfying rhythms for reading all ...
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What is the significance of 36 in the Vietnamese poem “Learning Late Letters”?

"Learning Late Letters", a poem originally written in Vietnamese by Nguyễn Hoàng Quyên, was one of the winners of the 2020 Words Without Borders Academy of Americans Poets Poems in ...
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What do the silks and tattoos represent in Sui-Yun's poem about Eve?

One of the Peruvian writer Sui-Yun's Four Short Poems (translated from Spanish by Jennifer Shyue) is written as addressed to "Eve, my eternal mother". I hope I'm not being excessively dirty-...
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What does “rime of alien dreams” mean in Maya Angelou's “The Mothering Blackness”?

In Maya Angelou's poem "The Mothering Blackness", there's a verse that goes like this: She came down creeping        here to the black arms waiting        now to the warm heart waiting rime ...
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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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How is capitalization being used in Maya Angelou's “On the Pulse of Morning”?

I was looking through Maya Angelou's "On the Pulse of Morning", and noticed that there's an interesting use of capitalization in the poem. (I checked multiple version to make sure that this ...
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58 views

Starting a poem with a “small letter”

I read a poem entitled Archery by Carl Phillips: The first few lines read as: was still a thing, then. To have timed your arrow perfectly meant watching the air for a moment... As a basic reader I ...
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Meaning of Lorca's “Romance sonámbulo”?

What does Lorca mean in his poem "Romance sonámbulo" when he says: Tiny tin-leaf lanterns were trembling on the tiles. A thousand crystal tambourines were wounding dawn's dark sky. (...
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Why is Szymborska's “Tarsier” sometimes written (in translation) with simplistic grammar?

Szymborska's poem "Tarsier" ("Tarsjusz" in the original Polish) has been translated, in a version that says "Translations and Comments by Magnus J. Krynski and Robert A. ...
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How does the change in syllables change the reading in Maya Angelou's “Still I Rise”?

In the opening stanza of Maya Angelou's "Still I Rise", the syllables go 9 / 7 / 9 / 6. The second verse goes 8 / 7 / 9 / 7. All of these are within two or three syllables of each other, and ...
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Title of poem by Wisława Szymborska

Does anyone know the title of the poem by Szymborska which contains a line worded something like “whose life has ever turned out as they thought it would anyway”? I believe that the poem was published ...
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How are colors being used in Maya Angelou's “The Mothering Blackness”?

In Maya Angelou's poem "The Mothering Blackness", there are a bunch of different colors mentioned. For instance, the first verse goes like this: She came home running    back to the ...

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