Thursday, February 26, 2009


In Memory of W. B. Yeats
by W. H. Auden

He disappeared in the dead of winter:
The brooks were frozen, the airports almost deserted,
And snow disfigured the public statues;
The mercury sank in the mouth of the dying day.
What instruments we have agree
The day of his death was a dark cold day.

Far from his illness
The wolves ran on through the evergreen forests,
The peasant river was untempted by the fashionable quays;
By mourning tongues
The death of the poet was kept from his poems.

But for him it was his last afternoon as himself,
An afternoon of nurses and rumours;
The provinces of his body revolted,
The squares of his mind were empty,
Silence invaded the suburbs,
The current of his feeling failed; he became his admirers.

Now he is scattered among a hundred cities
And wholly given over to unfamiliar affections,
To find his happiness in another kind of wood
And be punished under a foreign code of conscience.
The words of a dead man
Are modified in the guts of the living.

But in the importance and noise of to-morrow
When the brokers are roaring like beasts on the floor of the Bourse,
And the poor have the sufferings to which they are fairly accustomed,
And each in the cell of himself is almost convinced of his freedom,
A few thousand will think of this day
As one thinks of a day when one did something slightly unusual.

What instruments we have agree
The day of his death was a dark cold day.


You were silly like us; your gift survived it all:
The parish of rich women, physical decay,
Yourself. Mad Ireland hurt you into poetry.
Now Ireland has her madness and her weather still,
For poetry makes nothing happen: it survives
In the valley of its making where executives
Would never want to tamper, flows on south
From ranches of isolation and the busy griefs,
Raw towns that we believe and die in; it survives,
A way of happening, a mouth.


Earth, receive an honoured guest:
William Yeats is laid to rest.
Let the Irish vessel lie
Emptied of its poetry.

In the nightmare of the dark
All the dogs of Europe bark,
And the living nations wait,
Each sequestered in its hate;

Intellectual disgrace
Stares from every human face,
And the seas of pity lie
Locked and frozen in each eye.

Follow, poet, follow right
To the bottom of the night,
With your unconstraining voice
Still persuade us to rejoice;

With the farming of a verse
Make a vineyard of the curse,
Sing of human unsuccess
In a rapture of distress;

In the deserts of the heart
Let the healing fountain start,
In the prison of his days
Teach the free man how to praise.

In the elegy, there are three parts. The first part is grief, when W.H. Auden grives about the death of W.B. Yeats. The second part is the part when he is praising W.B. Yeats for his successes. In the final part, he is consoled and ready to move on. It is a lyrical poem and is usually mournful.

In the first part, cacophony is used to stress the anger that Auden feels about the death of W.B. Yeats. For example, Auden says "The day of his death was a dark cold day." which uses cacophony to emphasize the grief and anger that Auden must be feeling.

In the second part, Auden is more open about his true feelings and accepting that Yeats is gone. He uses apostrophe to explain the true importance of Yeat's to Ireland. He uses Ireland as a person to describe the loss that one must feel now that he is gone. It is praising his success and affection. This may also be considered a trope.

Earth, receive an honoured guest:
William Yeats is laid to rest.
Let the Irish vessel lie
Emptied of its poetry.

Auden is now consoled and is letting go of Auden's death. The praising continues however. Also, the celebration of Yeats's life is seen in this section. The use of rhymes and a meter for rhythm almost describe the joy of the moment. The rhyme scheme is very noticable in this part of the poem. Caesura is also used in the third part of the poem. It gives an effect of the audience engulfing the celebration of Yeats. It gives them time to consume all that has happened and rejoice in his life.

Though this is not similar to the traditional elegy from Greece, it does use send a clear message of exalting someone. It does not have the couplets, but it does have the resolution at the end. It may not be a traditional elegy, but it is, in my opinion, the best elegy of it's kind.


Ode on Solitude by Alexander Pope

Happy the man, whose wish and care
A few paternal acres bound,
Content to breathe his native air,
In his own ground.

Whose heards with milk, whose fields with bread,
Whose flocks supply him with attire,
Whose trees in summer yield him shade,
In winter fire.

Blest! who can unconcern'dly find
Hours, days, and years slide soft away,
In health of body, peace of mind,
Quiet by day,

Sound sleep by night; study and ease
Together mix'd; sweet recreation,
And innocence, which most does please,
With meditation.

Thus let me live, unseen, unknown;
Thus unlamented let me dye;
Steal from the world, and not a stone
Tell where I lye.

Ode - It is a type of lyrical verse. There are usually three parts known as the strophe, antistrophe, and the epode.

In this poem, there is a definite rhyme scheme. Odes don't necessarily have a pattern, so it is important to indicate that this poem does. Also, there are many punctuations between thoughts in each line, called a caesura. The use of a caesura give the poem more depth and meaning. If read without these pauses, the poem wouldn't have as much of an effect on the reader. With the constant pauses, it gives the reader time to process what Pope is talking about. It almost brings the reader into a deeper realm of meditation.

Euphony is also used in the poem. The use of smooth consonants gives a soothing effect to Pope's poem. "sweet recreation" is an example of the smooth consonants within the poem. There is no stress on the consonants that causes cacophony. Pope uses euphony to further elaborate on the solitude of the event at hand. The solemnity of the use of euphony further conveys the soothing mood of the poem.

During Pope's time, a word that ended with "e-d" would have the word + ed at the end, so elision was used to give the poem a better flow. Also, it keeps the regular meter of the poem. Two examples here are "unconcern'dly" and "mix'd". If the "e" was added to these words, an extra syllable would be added and the meter would be off, and the smoothness of the poem would be ruined.

The Ode on Solitude uses these devices to give the sense of solitude in the fields that Pope intended to achieve. Without these devices, the poem wouldn't be the same. Also, the use of rhyming in this ode gives a better flow, adding to the solemness of the solitude around a field and the countryside.

Please comment on this poem.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Poetry Project - L(a and Stopping By Woods On a Snowy Evening

Robert Frost - Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening

Whose woods these are I think I know. a
His house is in the village, though; a
He will not see me stopping here b
To watch his woods fill up with snow. a

My little horse must think it queer b
To stop without a farmhouse near b
Between the woods and frozen lake c
The darkest evening of the year. b

He gives his harness bells a shake c
To ask if there's some mistake. c
The only other sound's the sweep d
Of easy wind and downy flake. c

The woods are lovely, dark and deep, d
But I have promises to keep, d
And miles to go before I sleep, d
And miles to go before I sleep. d

Literary Devices and Forms:
Situation and Setting
Free verse
Terza rima (Somewhat)- aba bcb cdc ded

Background on Poet:
He was born and raised in Lawrence, Massachusetts. His father had died when he was young, and his mother was a school teacher. Frost worked among others in a textile mill and taught Latin at his mother's school in Methuen, Massachusetts. In 1894 the New York Independent published Frost's poem 'My Butterfly' and he had five poems privately printed. Frost worked as a teacher and continued to write and publish his poems in magazines. He went to Dartmouth and Harvard, but no degrees are mentioned. He moved to England.

His poetry comes from his past. The poems in his published book, North Boston, written with blank verse or looser free verse of dialogue, were drawn from his own life, recurrent losses, everyday tasks, and his loneliness.

After his return from England, he taught at Amherst College and Michigan Universities. His wife died, and four of his children died as well. two suffered from mental break downs, and one committed suicide.

His success continued until his death on January 29, 1963.

My Reaction:

I remember reading this poem in fifth grade. Like my other poem, setting is only the base of the poem. The situation is more important than the setting. In this poem, the speaker is in the woods on a winter night. The setting gives it a depressed feeling, and the situation is derived from this feeling. The speaker mentions that he has "promises to keep" before he sleeps. The promises he has to keep is his life that he has to keep living before he dies. In this poem, death is a topic. The woods and the dark of the winter signify his encounter with death and his perseverence and will to leave, the horse, lead him out of death. As it is seen, setting is used to create the mood of the situation at hand.

E.E. Cummings - [l(a]

Literary devices and forms:
Free verse

Background on Cummings:

Born: October 14, 1894
Cambridge, Massachusetts
Died: September 3, 1962
North Conway, New Hampshire

"The American poet E. E. Cummings wrote verse that presented romantic attitudes in an experimental style." - Similary to Kasey's view on the poem.

His father was a Harvard Professor, and E.E. Cummings (Edward Estlin) was born into a well known family. His mother introduced writing to him. He eventually graduated from Harvard in 1915, and received an advance degree in 1916.

He became an ambulance driver in France before WWII. He was imprisoned, and it was then that he stirred up ideas for his first book. His "romantic transcendentalism" views were not accepted by many. It took 10 years to publish his first poems.

He is known for breaking up words and putting them back together.

He lived in NYC and North Conway, and focused on painting.

My Original thoughts:

This poem really caught my eye, especially because I had no idea what the words were when I first read it. After reading it over, I realized that it says, "a leaf falls" and then "loneliness". This poem really caught my attention because of the form. It is a very horizontally challenged poem, meaning that it can't be read line to line. The direction is always down, which emphasizes the leaf falling from the tree. Then, after being read in the parentheses, Cummings mentions "loneliness".

The use of a few words in each line signifies the loneliness. The line after the two little l's, there is only one letter left, and after that, the word one. To further build on that, it shows that as the leaf is getting further and further from the tree, the loneliness within it, is growing ever more real. The second to last line shows l, which defines loneliness. It seems as though each line illuminates the loneliness of the leaf.

These two terms are parallel to each other. A leaf falling from a tree can be seen as a child almost being excluded from a group, or falling behind. He/she can't seem to hold onto the branch, the group, any longer, and he/she just gives up. As we all know, loneliness is being in solitary isolation, and isn't a leaf falling off of a tree symbolizing just that? That is why, after I read it again, I realized that the leaf falling from the tree is incorporated into loneliness. This falling off, and falling to the ground, is just a part of loneliness that we all have to face sometimes.

Classmates' Input:

The one that strongly contradicts my analysis, but makes complete sense:

I wrote on this poem as well. I wanted to bring to your attention the two L's in the middle of the poem. They are lowercase so they look like ones and it brought me to think that Cummings was trying to say, within all this lonliness, we are happy when we find someone else. He is saying that everyone who feels lonely is simply searching, deep down, for another person to connect with.

- Kasey Quinlan

Also, Charlie mentioned the form of the poem being the number 1. I hadn't realized it before, but then this further strengthened my belief that I was correct. No offense, Kasey. :]

Another thing i found interesting was Lauren's take on it. "l/one/l/iness"

I really thought that Kasey's analysis shed new light on the poem. We saw the two ll's differently. She saw it as two people finding each other, and I saw it as two people drifting away from each other. After reading her post, I did agree with Kasey, but I was still convinced my reasoning was more accurate.

What does everyone else think?

A weird interpretation of it.