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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Does firsthand experience of suffering lead to literary innovation?

I am interested in what truths, if any, lie behind the trope of the 'suffering' artist. To what extent does first-hand experience of pain facilitate artistic creativity? In particular, I was wondering ...
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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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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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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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51 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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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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A request for the entire full length poem 'Flatline', by Margaret Atwood [closed]

I am struggling to find the poem 'Flatline', by Margaret Atwood which is a staple for my presentation on old-age depressions. I ran out of my last credit in the New Yorker also, so I am not allowed to ...
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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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47 views

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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319 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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Finally, the slick mountains of love break over us

This is the last part of Mary Oliver's poem "Her Grave", honoring the poet's dead dog. How strong was her dark body! How apt is her grave place. How beautiful is her unshakable sleep. ...
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What does “and bread loaf is not stone” mean in Maya Angelou's “Alone”?

The opening stanza of Maya Angelou's poem "Alone" goes like this: Lying, thinking Last night How to find my soul a home Where water is not thirsty And bread loaf is not stone I came up with ...
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What does “where water is not thirsty” mean in Maya Angelou's “Alone”?

The opening stanza of Maya Angelou's poem "Alone" goes like this: Lying, thinking Last night How to find my soul a home Where water is not thirsty And bread loaf is not stone I came up with ...
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What are the poetic devices used in this poem and how do they relate to its meaning?

What are the poetic devices (tone, imagery etcetera) used in this poem and how do they contribute to the poem's overall theme? I would appreciate an answer based on a close reading of the text. ...
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Meaning of “solving” in “Days” by Philip Larkin

Philip Larkin's poem "Days" contains the following lines: Where can we live but days? Ah, solving that question Brings the priest and the doctor What does "solving" mean here? I ...
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Identifying allusions in Eric Jarosinski's poem “TWEET”

The attached picture is a poem by Eric Jarosinski in which he masterfully alluded to some literary and artistic works. Transcription of picture: TWEET The Tweet is not a genre. Rather: it is a frame. ...
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In Ko Un's short poem “In the very middle of the road”, why does the narrator take a different path?

There's a short poem by Ko Un that, when translated, goes like this: In the very middle of the road two dogs are coupling I take another route (source; translated by Brother Anthony of Taizé) Why ...
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“Walking to Work” by Frank O'Hara

I'm looking for any insight on the poem "Walking to Work" (1952) by Frank O'Hara. I feel like the meanings are just escaping me, and I can't find any analysis on the Internet to support/...
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What's the significance of “Collegisse juvat” in Aurora Leigh's fan-mail?

In book III of Aurora Leigh (1856) by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, the narrator, who has published some popular poems, reads her fan-mail, which includes: … rarer tokens from young bachelors, Who ...
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Poems collecting African proverbs

When I was a student, many years ago, in the mid 1990s, I remember reading a fascinating piece about traditional African poetry. If I remember correctly, it was a scholarly article reprinted an ...
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Why does Petrarch's sequence of poems to Laura have three different titles?

Petrarch's celebrated sequence of 366 poems to Laura goes by three different titles. As far as I can tell, they're used interchangeably: Il Canzoniere, The Songbook Rerum Vulgarium Fragmenta, ...
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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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235 views

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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107 views

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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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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