Analysis of ‘The Flower-Fed Buffaloes’

Explore the ways in which Vachel Lindsay in ‘The Flower-Fed Buffaloes’ expresses change so effectively

Vachel Lindsay uses the key symbol of the buffalo to represent a time that has passed in North America through his poem The Flower-Fed Buffaloes. The idea of the extinct buffalo herds is linked to the egression of nature and the disappearance of the Native American tribes as a result of the colonisation that has occurred throughout America over the nineteenth century. These thoughts are portrayed with a number of effective language techniques to express the change that has occurred so effectively.

The first five lines set the reminiscent tone of the poem as Lindsay looks back on and conveys the enormous freedom that the buffaloes once had. The opening line and of course the title of the poem illustrate the harmony that the buffaloes have with nature by the term “flower-fed”, the alliteration of which also carries positive connotations. After establishing the link between these two ideas, the natural imagery used throughout the first five lines is associated with the buffaloes and thus the “the days of long ago.” Words such as “spring” and “blooming” give the impressions of new life and tie in with the use of the word “flowers.” In this way, Lindsay aligns these past days with the thought of rejuvenation and hence begins to cast them in a positive light. The poet continues to do this through the words “ranged”, “prairie” and “tossing”, all of which carry a sense of freedom to move. The word “ranged”, in the past tense, also helps to reinforce the reminiscent tone that is being set and suggests that whilst in the past the buffaloes have been spread all over a vast region, this is no longer the case. The current state of this environment is introduced as a place where “locomotives sing,” a rather sarcastic concept in order to emphasise the harsh sounds that these machines really make. Furthermore, the personification in this phrase contrasts these cacophonous locomotives to the living, pleasant, nature-aligned buffalo and thus makes clear to the reader that the change that has occurred is a detrimental one. Reinforcing this is the description of the flowers that now “lie low”, a phrase that suggests both seclusion and a lack of energy, juxtaposed to the previous freedom and liveliness in the environment. By presenting the past in a highly positive light and then contrasting this to the modern atmosphere as it is gradually introduced throughout these five lines, the poet clearly expresses the terrible change that occurs as both the importance and beauty of nature deplete.

The current milieu is explored in more depth in the next three lines, firstly as the previously pleasant “perfumed grass” is replaced by “wheat”. The involvement of the sense of smell helps to further involve the reader and create a more effective understanding of the change that has occurred. The scented and refreshing grass has become the odorless and purely economical item of wheat. The phrase “swept away” helps to illustrate how inexorable and decisive this transformation has been, as does the repetition in the next line as “wheels and wheels and wheels spin by.” Lindsay does, however, present some hope in the following line as the idea of the rejuvenation that occurs “in the spring” is again mentioned. The phrase “still is sweet” leads the reader to believe that nature will endure these hardships induced by man and that this change may not be as definitive as it seems. The poet thus makes absolutely clear the fact that this vicissitude is unfavourable, but does leave some promise for change back to the way life was.

Despite this prospect, the poet reminds the reader that the buffalo herds are gone as the last seven lines end the poem rather depressingly. The word “but” instigates this change of mood and Lindsay goes on to stress that the buffalo have “left us.” The euphemism here helps to make the buffalo seem more human and allows the reader to further sympathise with these living beings. The energetic descriptions of these creatures over the next couple of lines also help to evoke this sympathy. The verbs “gore”, “bellow” and “trundle” are all highly energetic and lively, but furthermore highlight specific elements of the buffalo. “Bellow” is almost a cry of pain, presumably during the decline of the buffalo, whilst the onomatopoeia in “trundle” links the animals to trains, and thus creates yet another contrast between nature and the civilised world. During these two lines the phrase “no more” is repeated three times to make the disappearance of the buffalo absolutely explicit and noteworthy. Moreover, this repetition does not fit in with the rhythm and rhyme scheme established throughout the rest of the poem and reinforces the sudden and depressing departure of the buffalo herds. Following these lines the link created with the “Blackfeet” and “Pawnees,” two extremely proud Native American tribes that seemed to dissipate as the buffaloes did, again helps to humanise the buffalo and also provides another effect that the colonisation in the United States has had. The repetition of the phrase “lying low” three times over the last three lines has a very sinister tone to conclude the poem with a warning that if this urbanisation does not end, then more elements of nature will become subject to the fate of the buffaloes.

Not only does Vachel Lindsay effectively use symbols and language to express the effect that man has had on nature in The Flower-Fed Buffaloes, he also makes clear that this change has been for the worst. In doing so, Lindsay reminds people of the disappearance of a number of elements of nature in the past and reminds the reader that there is an opportunity for this change to end, lest the state of the world gets even worse.

Analysis on ‘Amends’

Amends – by Adrienne Rich

Author:

  • A feminist
  • Amends shows how she believed that women went unnoticed (night, sleeping people) and that women are left to make amends for other people’s actions

Poem:

  • Amends definition =
    • to compensate or make up for a wrong doing
    • moon making amends for faults in the world/environment
    • 1ststanza =
      • “nights like this” = from Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice opening lines Act 5
        • helps set the scene
        • automatically links poem with moon

The moon shines bright: in such a night as this,

When the sweet wind did gently kiss the trees,

And they did make no noise, in such a night,

Troilus methinks mounted the Troyan walls,

And sigh’d his soul toward the Grecian tents,

Where Cressid lay that night.

  • “cold” =
    • cold atmosphere
    • suggests that it is at night-time
    • harsh word
  • “white star” =
    • further suggests night-time
    • either apple blossoms of tree falling/moonlight reflections
  • “then another” =
    • Repeatedly happening
    • Multitude of either blossoms or moonlight beams
  • “exploding” =
    • Violent
    • Incongruous to the rest of the poem
    • Harsh word
    • Interrupts stanza’s silence
  • “moonlight picking” =
    • 1st proper mention of moonlight
    • Personifies moon = has human qualities
    • Reflecting off some stones more than others
  • “small stones” =
    • Poem starts off at a small level, small range of view
  • Use of colons =
    • Lists/itemises the progression from sky to tree to ground
  • Mood =
    • Busy = moonlight “picking”, “exploding”
  • No rhyming

 

  • 2ndstanza =
    • “greater stones” =
      • Broader range of view
      • ‘zoomed out’
  • “rises with surf” =
    • Reflection in water
    • Transparent effect
    • Seems to be bobbing up and down with the waves
  • “laying its cheek” =
    • Relaxing
    • Appeals to sense of touch
    • Strongly links moonlight with femininity = nurturing, loving, caring
  • “moments” =
    • longer amount of time than picking
    • Light reflecting on sand more than on stones
  • “sand” =
    • Links with relaxation (beaches = relaxing places)
  • “licks” =
    • Semi-appeal to taste
    • Personifies moonlight as being a caring, feminine, motherly figure (animals lick other animals if they are hurt/young)
  • “broken” =
    • Confirms moonlight’s caring nature = licking it better
    • Shows that moonlight = trying to repair the damages (make amends)
  • “flows up the cliffs” =
    • Flows like water = links back to the surf
    • Lots of reflection on the cliffs
    • Cliffs common near beaches
    • Uncontrolled (liquids take shape of container), yet relaxed (no use of violent language e.g. “exploding” form stanza 1

 

  • “flicks” =
    • Not much reflection on tracks

 

  • “tracks” =
    • Common near beaches as well
    • Commonly found in relaxing environments
  • “picks”, “licks”, “flicks” =
    • Rhyme
    • Give the sense that the moonlight is only lightly touching the environment
    • Further link to femininity
  • “it” =
    • Refers to moonlight
    • Makes the reader forget that it is moonlight = adds to personification
  • Mood & rhythm =
    • Relaxed
    • Calm

 

Stanza 3

‘as it unavailing pours into the gash’

Unavailing means pointless, possibly suggesting it is too weak, although there is a lot of light. Referencing to early feminism movements, with a lot of female support, but at first no power was available. Gash = wound created by humans.

‘of the sand-and-gravel quarry’

Quarry links back to gash = humans are destroying the environment

‘as it leans across the hangared fuselage’

It can lean across the fuselage as the light reflects off the metallic surface. Personification, further reference to women. Lack of balance (leaning as opposed to standing up freely). Light shines off man-made objects in a stunted way compared with how it shines off natural objects. Fuselage = the main body of the plane. Hangared = almost portrays the plane as sleeping/ in bed (links to the later mentioned “sleepers”).

‘of the crop dusting plane’

Good reflection, ability to identify specifically that it is a crop-dusting plane reveals that light is more useful or powerful as it seems, a contradiction to the pouring into the gash. Allusion to gaining force of feminism movement.

Stanza 4

‘as it soaks through cracks into the trailers’

Soaks suggest that the trailer is saturated in light. For it to saturate the trailer in light, it must be very bright and powerful – it is slowly gathering more energy. It is a liquid-like (water = links back to the water in stanza 2) motion, smooth, agile quiet, gentle. Very feminine. May symbolise that feminism is gaining more ground. Cracks = light enters anywhere possible; light cannot be destroyed = breaks through defences (e.g. walls) with ease. Trailers = poor people, suggests the human damage done to nature has also made humans worse off.

‘tremulous with sleep’

Tremulous describes their bodies and minds shaking and afraid. Direct contrast to the moon, whose light and movement is smooth and gentle. The whole place is asleep.

‘as it dwells upon the eyelids of the sleepers’

Dwelling is a gentle verb, the light can be easily imagined as slowly landing on the eyelids. The moonlight is protects the sleepers. Femininity portrayed through the light = women always looking out for others; caring, gentle. Poet also suggests that women do not get credit for this (“sleepers” don’t notice the light on their eyes)

‘as if to make amends’

The light sympathises with the sleepers, attempts to comfort them. No reference to feminism at all, suggesting that the well-being of mankind is more important than arguments over which sex is superior. “as if” = uncertain about the true motives behind the moons doings. First time the moon is described as being inanimate/not in control of itself.

8. Explore the ways in which Adrienne Rich conveys a sense of mood and atmosphere in the poem Amends

In the poem Amends, Adrienne Rich creates a cold, still, clear atmosphere in which the moon tries to compensate for something it has done in the past.

The atmosphere of Amends is influenced by the setting. Being set on “Nights like this” creates a cool, dark atmosphere contrasted all of a sudden with “white star(s)” “exploding out of the bark” in huge numbers, lighting up the sky. The atmosphere is also human free, with the poem mainly dealing with inanimate objects, which is contrasted through the poet personifying the moon.

“Nights like this”, alluded from Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice, clearly links the poem to the moon, as the line in which it is taken from discusses how very bright the moon was. This accentuates the clear sky in which the moon can shine so brightly.

A prevalent silence falls over the poem, emphasising the still atmosphere. This is suddenly juxtaposed with the stars “exploding”. This silence is predominantly due to the human free nature of the poem. This is because everyone is sleeping. Ironically, the moon comes out almost timidly, “picking at small stones”. In stanza 2 assonance adds to this silence through the repetition of the “-icks” sound in “picks”, “licks” and “flicks” which sound like whispers. The repetitive “f” sound in the words “surf”, “flows” and “cliffs” also adds to the whispers. The atmosphere is also very tranquil and flowing, created in stanza 2, as the moon “licks the broken ledge”, then “flows up the cliffs” and “flicks across the tracks”.

In the poem, stars explode in the sky, and, unlike the moon, appear boldly and bright white in the sky. White light is intense light. This intensity is emphasised by their “exploding out of the bark”. For the stars to shine so brightly the sky must be clear. A clear, cloudless sky accentuates the coldness as all the heat can escape the world. But then, a clear sky also means the weather is good and rainless.

Adrienne Rich creates a sad mood in her poem, implying that the moon has done something wrong to the world, but whatever it does to try to make up for this is obsolete as everyone is “tremulous with sleep”. The moon is also reminiscent that is can’t do more, because it “dwells upon the eyelids of the sleepers”. This sad mood is exemplified with the word “gash” which links to the wound which the moon has created on the earth. Rich evokes this sadness in the reader as everything the moon does is redundant because everyone is asleep, totally unaware and unappreciative.

By personifying and giving the moon human features and emotions, Rich easily conveys to the reader what the moon does on “nights like this”, and the dilemma it is in. It is also made clear that the moon has a close relationship with the sand because it lays “its cheek” on it.

Adrienne Rich touches on the destruction of nature by man in stanza 3 of “Amends”. This is more evidence of the mournful mood of the poem. The moon “pours into the gash” of the “sand and gravel quarry”. The moon is distraught at this gash made in the earth especially because it is a sand quarry, linking to it “laying its cheek on the sand” the stanza before. This relationship is emphasised as the moon “pours” its light into the quarry, showing the rush to get light into it as quickly as water pours over a waterfall. The moonlight is also likened to water when “it soaks through cracks into the trailers”.

Therefore, Adrienne Rich creates a still, cold, human free atmosphere; with a sad, regretful mood as the moon attempts to make amends.

Analysis on ‘Full Moon And Little Frieda’

Explore Ted Hughes’ writing in ‘Full Moon and Little Frieda’, showing how he creates a striking atmosphere.

 

The change of atmosphere in the poem Full Moon and Little Frieda is controlled by Ted Hughes to create a dramatic atmosphere. With carefully chosen words, Hughes builds up tension and brings it up to climax.

Tension is built up as a foundation for the astonishing ambience later in the poem. By closely describing stationary, unnoticeable things, the poet is able to create the suspense which helps to amplify the climax. A spider’s web is “tense for the dew’s touch” which presents the stillness of life and gives an idea that the environment is very shrunken up as if in anticipation for a shock. The imagery of a pail full of water adds to the idea of anticipation that it is “still and brimming” which portrays the expectation of an event about to happen. A pail is used well as imagery because when the water is full up to the brim, the water toppling perfectly visualises the tense climate of the poem. Also the “mirror” suggests stillness. A “tremor” is all a pail needs to tip out its content and thus foreshadows some action. Moreover, the help of the repetition of “A” in the beginning of the sentences, the listing tone embellishes tension. In the first two stanzas of the poem the build-up of tension is clearly noticeable.

While the previous stanzas were devoted to creating a strained mood, the third stanza reveals a completely different scene and yet perfects the building of the most intensified atmosphere. “Cows going home” insinuates a normal routine, a shot of an everyday life and that everything is normal despite all the tension that has been built up. The “lane” suggests an unspoilt “pail” because lanes connote evenness and uniformity which contrasts to the spilling of water. The uniformity is emphasised by “balancing unspilled milk”, careful not to spill and break order. Moreover, the sameness is exemplified by a metaphor of “warm wreaths of breath” in which the wreaths connote evenness and arrangement. Also the alliteration of “warm wreaths” holds some significance as it is a soft pronunciation and does not have any accents. This reinforces the idea of tranquillity which is an anticlimax to amplify the actual climax of the poem. While the climax is magnificent, grand and stunning, the anticlimax holds values for its antonymic behaviour. A “dark” atmosphere is adopted to hide what is coming shortly, the climax, and is given a sinister tone to add to that effect. The “dark river of blood” insinuates hardship and ominousness which is supported by “many boulders” to add to the idea of hardship. However, these boulders can be seen differently as stepping stones to help cross the “dark river of blood”. This ambiguity is used nicely to create a confusing, chaotic atmosphere which will be broken heroically. Furthermore, the whole stanza is a case of enjambment; reading the lines separately will give different meanings aforementioned, and reading it as a whole gives a contrasting idea. On seeing the stanza as one sentence, it is deducible that this stanza denotes Hughes’ rough past. Although Hughes went through various hardships and suffering, he managed to balance the “milk” and be with his daughter. Therefore, figuratively the “milk” could be his daughter which is an example of metonymy. Would he have spilt it on his course, he wouldn’t have his daughter with him at the point of writing. Hughes creates the most intense anticlimax before the pinnacle of the poem.

In contrast to the third stanza, the fourth stanza is the site of climax. This shock which the poet has to present is helped with the use of several punctuations and words. “Moon” is repeated three times to emphasise the presence and each is followed by exclamation marks to supplement the unexpected action. The word “suddenly” adds to the shocking effect. Simile is used to create a pertinent imagery to describe the shock “like an artist gazing amazed at a work” which depicts the surprise. This surprise is because of the fact that the little Frieda is so innocent and pure such that she cries out “moon” as if it was a scientific breakthrough. It is almost as if the moon is jealous of her purity, because moon itself connotes purity and is quite taken back to find a more innocent person which is suggested by the repetition of “amazed” which shows the extreme consternation of the moon. The last stanza finishes off the poem without proper ending to the climax by which creates a reverberation of the climax and also leaves an ambiguous notion. With the uses of exclamations, repetitions and simile, the climax is successfully managed to finish the poem without dissatisfaction.

Hughes creates the astonishing climax by focusing on the anticlimax which is built up from the beginning, which in the end builds up the climax itself. By closely describing objects linked with movement and intensifying the moment just before the climax, the poet built up tension and used it effectively to hit the climax with full power.

Choose moments in two [‘Amends’ by Adrienne Rich and ‘Full Moon and Little Frieda’ by Ted Hughes] poems where the language the poet uses has particularly excited you, and explain in detail why you have found it so exciting.

In the poems ‘Amends’ and ‘Full Moon and Little Frieda’, by Adrienne Rich and Ted Hughes respectively, the poets use language to excite the reader. Their language also helps them to convey their message, and to make their poems more compelling and interesting.

Repetition of the phrase “as it” in the poem ‘Amends’ sets out the actions of the moon like a list; and is exciting in that it builds up an apprehension for every action. The repetition also shows that the moon goes through these cyclic actions every night, and can be accurately predicted in such a way that the echoing makes this seem like a story being told. The repetition also makes the poem sound gentle and flowing, increasing the reader’s excitement.

In ‘Full Moon and Little Frieda’, there is also repetition that helps to make the poem exciting. The repetition of the exclamation “Moon!” three times shows the youth and innocence of the child shouting this, as well as their sheer wonder at the sight. It also helps the sudden entrance into the poem of the moon, which has gone unnoticed until this point. Thus, this shows the amazement of the child at this sudden appearance. Another example of repetition in the poem is that of “amazed”. This shows that there is mutual wonder and admiration, and helps to show the high degree of amazement in the “artist gazing” and his work that “points at him”.

The personification of the moon and the verbs that describe its actions form an integral part of the poem ‘Amends’. The rhyming words “picks”, “licks” and “flicks” are soft words that show how very light the moon’s touch is – some would say a feminine touch. “Rise”, “laying” and “flow”, also from the second stanza, are light, calm and smooth verbs as well. The image of the moon “laying its cheek” is a very soothing, and possibly motherly, gesture that cements this nurturing persona of the moon.

However, in the next two stanzas, more weighty and active verbs are used. “Pours”, “leans” and “soaks” are much more than just the light touch the moon gives before; perhaps this is because in Stanzas 3 and 4 it is doing these actions to man-made, artificial objects rather than the natural features she was touching lightly, as if there is a mutual awareness between the moon and the earth, but not with humans. These words achieve a personification that pinpoints the exact character of the moon, which helps to make the poem powerful.

Personification achieves a similar goal in ‘Full Moon and Little Frieda”. The “spider’s web, tense for the dew’s touch” builds up an anticipation of an event, as if even now inanimate objects can sense that something is about to happen. The image of the moon “stepping back” gives it not the matriarchal character of the moon in ‘Amends’, but that of an artist who is taking in the pleasure of what he has created. Thus, the moon develops a distinct identity, and the way the poet used language to do this makes it compelling to readers.

 One possible interpretation of ‘Full Moon and Little Frieda’ concerns the physical and sexual maturation of a girl, and the poet uses exciting language where he is possibly giving us this message. The “clank of a [empty] bucket”, then the “pail lifted, … brimming” conveys the image of a bucket being filled, a metaphor for the growth of the girl’s body. The “cows” are allegories for women and mothers, and the importance of “blood” and “milk” as symbols of female maturation goes unspoken. The final product of the transformation leads to the “artist gazing amazed at a work”, like a parent who has watched their child grow to womanhood. These hints towards this possible interpretation are exciting uses of language in their own right.

The first stanza of ‘Amends’ contains exciting language that makes it both an appropriate and effective introduction to the poem. It opens with the phrase “Nights like this”, which is taken from the opening lines of Act 5 of Shakespeare’s ‘The Merchant of Venice’. This quote introduces the setting of night-time, and immediately links the poem to the moon, which is also central to that part of ‘The Merchant of Venice’. “The cold apple-bough” establishes the natural scene that starts ‘Amends’, however ‘”cold” is a harsh, cutting word that indicates the icy chill of the night. The “white star” cuts through the night, and brings the moon into the poem suddenly and violently, described as “exploding” out of the bark. The “small stones” help to link this stanza to the “greater stones” of the beach setting of the second stanza. Thus, this stanza contains powerful language that introduces all the key elements of the poem, and establishes a gripping scene within the stanza while linking to the next.

Ted Hughes’ opening to ‘Full Moon and Little Frieda’ also conveys the setting of the poem with intriguing language, such as the opening line. The “cool small evening” presents a calm setting that expresses the mellow and tranquil tone of the poem. Furthermore, the notion of the already “small evening” shrinking is interesting; it may mean the level of activity dropped. The word ‘night’ goes unspoken, as the only noises are “a dog bark and the clank of a bucket”. This reinforces the idea that “shrunk” refers to the level of activity dropping, and is the first thing to break through the “cool” setting of the poem. The only sounds being that of a dog barking and a bucket dropping hint at a rural milieu, which agrees with the stillness of the night: in addition, the presence of cows strengthens this argument. This first sentence of the poem gives us a mundane setting, possibly that of a farm, and leads into Stanza 2, which build tension of later events. In such a tranquil setting even happenings like dogs barking seem exciting to us, and this shows the effectiveness of an opening that is only one sentence.

The second stanza of the same poem builds apprehension and foreboding for event to come, with all four lines creating some kind of tension. “And you listening” is a completion of the first sentence that gives us questions about the scene: for example, we want to know whom the speaker is addressing, although one presumes it is Little Frieda, from the title. The image of the “spider’s web, tense” shows the serenity of the environment, backed up by the “still and brimming” pail. The possibility of this pail spilling creates an apprehension, as if things are balancing carefully in fear of perturbation. “Tempt” and “tremor” in the fourth line are words that invoke feelings of tension. Thus, this stanza brings about a sense of apprehension, like everything awaits an approaching phenomenon.

These two poems both use exciting language to achieve their purposes. The poets employ gripping language to achieve repetition and personification, to establish setting and build tension, and to provoke different interpretations of their work. ‘Amends’ and ‘Full Moon and Little Frieda’ give us all these uses of exciting language, and both poems are powerful for this reason.

Analysis on ‘Sonnet 29’

Explore the ways in which “Sonnet 29” by Edna St Vincent Millay explores the thoughts of the poet.

Throughout the poem ‘Sonnet 29’ written by Edna St Vincent Millay there are many instances where comparative measures in the form of metaphors are used to successfully explore the thoughts and main messages regarding the pain and suffering love causes, which is expressed by the poet throughout the piece. Comparative techniques in the form of matching natural elements with the personalities of men and the concept of love are used to allow the audience to feel a sense of belonging and self-realisation as well as allowing the readers to relate to her personal experiences. Also, the conflicts between her mind and heart further help clarify her views on love.

In the first four lines, love is compared to ‘beauties passed away’. This refers to the degradation of love, and this is further emphasised in the next line. She describes the degradation of love as it changes ‘From field to thicket’. The term field refers to what may once have been an orderly and well tended plot, to ‘thicket’ which is an overgrown, uncared for patch of land, conveying how her love has been slowly broken down, and turned into a mess. As it takes a long time for a field to become a thicket, Millay insinuates that this slow dilapidation of love is painful as she has to endure that pain until the wound heals, and it takes a long time for it to do so.

Love, and its continually fading power and influence is expressed in the next four sentences, and it is compared to moonlight. It is shown when ‘the waning of the moon’ prove that the moonlight is gradually decreasing in power, and demonstrates a continuing loss of power and love. Immediately after the description of the moon, it is said that ‘the ebbing tide goes out to sea’, where the ebbing tide refers to the gradually weakening marriage and romance between Millay and her lover, as the bond pulling the tide and essentially, bonding the two together, is diminishing. Millay blames this weakening romance on the the masculine side of the relationship, as this fading love is due to ‘a man’s desire hushed so soon’, insinuating that her husband’s desire for her is removed so early in the relationship, and this is substantiated further when her husband ‘no longer look[s] with love’ on her.

However, despite blaming her lovers, she decides that she is strong enough to accept her loss of love, ‘This I have known always: Love is no more’ implies that she has known that love was always going to end, and she believes that love fading away is part of its nature. Afterwards, Millay compares love to a ‘wide blossom which the wind assails’. The wind represents her lovers, which violently assaults the love-representing blossom, and the fact that it is wide, indicates that it traps a lot of wind, and therefore the wider the blossom, i.e., the greater the love, the harder one will fall, as there is more wind attempting to ruin the blossom, and the more pain he or she will suffer. Subsequently Millay once again portrays man as a ‘great tide that treads the shifting shore’, where the tide plays the role of man, and the shore as love. The term tide allows the reader to imagine a wave, which is powerful and destructive, and as it treads along the shifting shore, it destroys the shifting shore, which symbolises the slow, painful erosion of their love for each other, which seems to be continually fluctuating.

Following this metaphor, Millay further describes love as ‘strewing fresh wreckage gathered in the gales’. The fresh wreckage describes love as an trash which is slowly broken down, and scattered away, and therefore Millay believes that love is pointless and worthless, while the term ‘gathering’ suggests that this love is slowly breaking down and is being collected. Once again, Millay truly feels that love is also a process which causes pain, from which it takes a long time to recover. There is also a sense of disconnection between the heart and mind despite her understanding and reality of how love consistently ends in the last couplet. Millay describes that ‘the heart is slow to learn’ and still wants to become engaged with such intimacy, while compromising and stubbornly, almost naïvely, neglecting the logical thoughts of the mind when ‘the swift mind beholds at every turn.’.

Millay’s discontent and anger regarding love and her relationships are expressed through the comparative measures used in her essay, where love is represented as a soft delicate part of nature, while her husbands and men who she may have had relationships with as destructive forces. The metaphors used in these comparative measures repeatedly express the pain she endures as the relationship and bonds that held her relationships together never seemed to last, thus compelling her to feel that love is a time-wasting and worthless emotion.

Word Count: 816 (w/o the question)
Original Mark: 16/20

Analysis on ‘Dover Beach’ and ‘The Voice

Explore how two of the following poems present the idea of grief and despair. Support your ideas with details from the poems.

Report to Wordsworth
Dover Beach
The Voice
(I have chosen the last two)

Hardy and Arnold utilise similar sets of techniques, which often overlap, to express their emotions. However, as will become evident, The Voice makes more use of form and diction, while Dover Beach mainly exploits the meaning of the words.

The most obvious way in which Arnold conveys grief is through his choice of vocabulary. He explicitly mentions “the eternal note of sadness” in stanza two and “human misery” in stanza three. Also utilised are a range of modifiers, including “drear”, “melancholy” and “tremulous”. His descriptions of the world as a place of chaos show his lack of all hope for a better future: he presents humanity as a “confused” and “ignorant” race, living in constant darkness – which is clearly meant in a spiritual sense. Although he often uses to night to represent this, Arnold’s darkness is permanent, not temporary like natural night. This is evident from the use of “eternal”, from the description of the world as being devoid of light and as a “land of dreams”, implying that, like dreams, it exists entirely in the night.

In “The Voice”, Hardy makes use of pace and rhythm to control the mood of the poem. In the first line, the words “much missed” are awkward to say quickly, and have the effect of slowing the diction of the poem. Their heavy sound accentuates the ponderous atmosphere. In the third stanza, “listlessness” and “wistlessness” have a similar effect. Along with “across” and “dissolved”, they create a sibilance which mimics the sound of the breeze in a vivid appeal to the sense of hearing. This is particularly effective because the sound of the wind is associated with emptiness and loneliness: people only listen to the wind when their surroundings are silent and lack anything better to pay attention to. This perfectly expresses Hardy’s feelings of desolation in the absence of his wife’s companionship.
The aforementioned slowing effect is also present in the last stanza: the “f” sounds of “faltering”, “forward”, and “falling”, and the “th” sounds of “thin through the thorn”. In this stanza, the poet’s loneliness reaches a climax, and the previously rhythm established rhythm breaks down. The first line, in particular, is very short, and broken in the middle by a semicolon. It sounds breathless and exhausted; this halting diction reflects exactly the “faltering” mood of the poet, as if he has been broken by grief and cannot continue to live. This is reinforced by the incomplete sentence structure: although, like the other stanzas, this is one long sentence, it is unique in that it is not grammatically complete. It consists of a series of minor clauses strung together, with no finite verb, as if the speaker is too exhausted or depressed to form a proper sentence, and is simply throwing out phrases that pertain to his situation.

Repetition is another important technique in “The Voice”. In the first stanza, the gentle vowels of the phrase “call to me” is repeated, creating an ephemeral effect. The echoing makes the line sound surreal and ghostly, reinforcing the feeling that Emma’s ghost is actually speaking to him, even haunting him. It suggests that he can hear it constantly, without any respite: such is the depth of his grief. At the end of the third line, “all to me” is basically another repetition, and has more significance than simply maintaining the rhyme scheme. This time, the phrase illustrates the way Hardy once idolised his wife, and so, as well as its contribution the diction, it has the added effect of highlighting how vulnerable and bereft he is during this period of mourning.
The rhyme scheme itself is very pronounced. Entire phrases rhyme; not only do the words sound similar, they often are very close and can almost be considered repetition, such as “knew you then…view you then” and “call to me…all to me”. They serve as reminders and links to the preceding material, ensuring that the poem remains strongly focused and creating the effect that Hardy has been overwhelmed by his grief, to the point where he fixates on it exclusively. Furthermore, it suggests that monotony dominates his existence without Emma. There is nothing fresh or new in his life, nothing that he finds interesting apart from his grief, and his life consists of mechanically going through the basic routines for survival – this is the extent to which his loss has stunned him.

Similarly, Dover Beach uses a repetitive list to highlight what the poet sees as the grim nature of the world. After establishing the apparent attractions of the world – “so various, so beautiful, so new” – Arnold completely refutes them by bombarding the reader with its flaws: “hath…neither joy, nor love, nor light, / nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain”. This long list, whose short words facilitate rapid and emphatic diction, overwhelms the reader with pessimism, making it seem impossible for anything good to stand up in the face of this stream of despair.

The third stanza of The Voice incorporates the images of wind and water, both of which are associated with softness and weakness. Line 1 mentions the breeze’s “listlessness” – the sibilance and length makes it seem limp and dispirited – and water is invoked through the use of “wet mead” and “dissolved”, conjuring up associations of sogginess and dreariness. This is continued in the description of the wind as “oozing”. It is as if the poet’s will and determination have been dissolved along with “you” – he does not have enough energy to do anything but drift with whatever currents he encounters. This sense of powerlessness is also present in the last three lines of Dover Beach. The darkness and the verb “swept” create a sense of helplessness before the “ignorant armies” in their panicked “flight”.

The downward motion of the falling leaves in the last stanza of The Voice follows the mood of the poem, which by this stage has darkened from an original hopefulness to deep depression. Furthermore, the image invokes associations of death and decay, and the prominence of the “thorn” reinforces the impression that all the leaves are gone. The image not only reflects the passing of Hardy’s wife, but also suggests that he too has come to the autumn years of his life and has little more to look forward to. Indeed, the wind’s passage is a parallel to Hardy’s own existence. “oozing” suggests that the wind’s movements are sluggish, as if its journey through the sharp thorn has left it cut and bruised. Similarly, the poet is wounded and exhausted by grief, and dragging himself through life.

Arnold’s despair is highlighted by the use of strongly contrasting imagery in the fourth stanza. The wholesomeness “full and round” is completely opposite to the roughness and coarseness of “shingles”, “bright” contrasts with “night-wind” and “naked” is utterly foreign to the idea of a “girdle”. They are, of course, metaphors: the positive images represent the original, pure, faithful world; their darker counterparts the contemporary, and to the poet deeply disturbing, state. The juxtapositions between them make the negative images seem much harsher, and increase their impact on the reader.

These concepts – texture, light and darkness, nakedness and modesty – are essential parts of the way in which humans perceive and think about the world, no matter their background. Thus, they universalise the concepts that they represent, making them relevant to every reader: a world without religious faith is as indecent and vulnerable as an unclothed person, and piety, the light which illuminates the human existence, is being snuffed out, leaving all in darkness, with all its terrors. With these images to facilitate understanding between poet and audience, the conveyance of despair is so much more effective.

Arnold also employs the symbol of the sea to embody his abstract emotions, giving them a more substantial form which appeals to the senses, to heighten their impact on the reader. It appears in all of the first four stanzas. At the start, “the sea is calm”; later, it is compared, by means of a simile, to a “bright girdle” and used in conjunction with “the full and round”. This positive imagery, appealing to the sense of sight, endears the sea, and the religious faith it represents, to the reader. Thus, when it is seen to “draw back” and “withdraw” in the fourth stanza, the sense of loss is far keener, because it is so easily visualised. The sense of sound is also used: in the third stanza, its “tremulous cadence slow” and “the eternal note of sadness” are reminiscent of a funeral dirge or a death song, again creating a sense of mourning.

As we can see, the two poems have a number of methods in common in conveying their grief and despair. However, it is clear that The Voice is more subtle in its presentation of these ideas, taking advantage of rhythm and pace, while Dover beach is by far more explicit, tending to use vocabulary and language and sacrificing subtlety for power and grandeur.

Analysis on ‘Marrysong’

Essay 5: Explore the ways in which the poet vividly conveys the relationship between husband and wife in “Marrysong” by Dennis Scott.

An extended metaphor runs through the entire text, which compares the wife’s personality to a “territory”. The references to “geography”, “landscapes”, “country” and “roads” draw parallels between his wife’s mind and a physical, newly discovered land, which he must explore, as suggested by “charted” and “map”. In doing so, it evokes associations of mystery and bravery in facing the unknown – which seem entirely appropriate. However, there is quite a contrast between the images of a physical land, which we think of as being constant and natural, and the intellectual territory which “shifted under his eye”. This incongruity serves to make the description far more startling and surreal.

Not only does the lie of the land change, but the timescale on which thess shifts occurs also changes. In the first line, the poet states that the shifts occur “year after year”. Next, the time is shortened by a passing reference to “seasons”, then shrunk to “An hour”, becomes instantaneous – “suddenly she would change” – and then lengthens again to “each day”.

Overall, the poem is significantly lacking in fluency, an effect which is brought about by the repeated use of caesurae. Most lines are broken by pauses, denoted by commas, such as “that territory, without seasons, shifted” in line 2, and full stops, like “under his eye. An hour” in line 3. The sudden stutter of “All, all” is particularly effective in disrupting the flow built up in the previous line. The syntax is often awkward, in places like “learned her, quite” and “An hour he could be lost”. This slows down the reader and creates a sense of uncertainty, and thus the writing is made to mirror the subject matter.

Furthermore, the first five lines are heavily enjambed, while the last ones are not. As a result, there is a change of pace, from hesitant and unsure in the first section, to smooth and confident in the last. The enjambed lines discuss the details of the interactions between husband and wife, focusing on her inconstant moods, while the latter section is a generalised description of the changing nature of their relationship, saying that “all was each day new”. Thus, the shift in pace seems to suggest that the only certainty in this marriage is its capricious nature.

The phrase “her quarried hurt” stands out as the most ambiguous in the poem. Quarries have hard stone walls, and are a source of stone for building materials, making it possible to interpret the phrase as a reinforcement of the image of “walled anger”. However, it could also be seen as a counterpoint, due to the contrast between the expansive, open nature of a quarry, which is essentially a pit in the ground, and the confinement or shutting out implied in “walled”.

Alternatively, one might understand it as a suggestion that her hurt is not genuine, but rather something which has been artificially and deliberately dug up in order to create an effect. Yet another way to see it is to take it as a reference to “quarry”, prey which is being hunted. In this sense, the phrase would mean that the she, for some unknown reason, feels victimised and ill-treated, or that her hurt has driven her to attack her husband. Whatever the case, it is clear that this line exactly reflects the uncertainty which the husband feels, and is highly effective in giving the reader a first hand experience of it.

Later, the poet uses a series of staccato sentences: “He charted. She made wilderness again. Roads disappeared. The map was never true.” Their sharpness, and the sudden transition from the drawn-out, halting diction of the previous lines drives home their message. At this point in the poem, a sense of irritation has been built up by the repeated pauses, and the sudden burst of frustration in these two lines provides an emotional release for the reader, creating a climax at this point.

From here, the poem begins to wind down, and at “All, all” in line 11 enters its final stage.
Up to this point, there had been no rhyme or structure, making the poem abstract and ephemeral. This line, however, is end-stopped, giving a sense of closure, and forms a rhyming couplet with the next, as do the last two lines: “new…grew” and “find…mind”. The use of this common rhyme scheme creates a sense of solidity and familiarity even though it is not applied to every line. Furthermore, the poem takes on a satisfying fluency, especially in the lines “the shadows of…helpless journey”, which was previously absent.

In terms of content, this section summarises the nature of the marriage, then moves on to definite actions by the husband: “he accepted” and “stayed home”. The resignation in “accepted” ends the confusion and frustration from the previous lines, while the fact that he is taking some sort of action gives the sense of a resolution. In combination with the shift in tone to bring the poem to a natural close.

The effectiveness with which the interpersonal interactions are conveyed is, to a significant degree, due to the way Scott imbues the writing itself with the same attributes he is exploring. Through altering the pace, tone and fluency of the poem, he takes the reader on an emotional journey, evoking feelings of confusion, frustration and resignation which mirror those he conveys as being present in the relationship between husband and wife, and fosters further understanding by the consistent use of the metaphor of the land to great effect.

Analysis on ‘Dover Beach’

Explore how Matthew Arnold uses language to give us insights into the life of modern man in ‘Dover Beach’.

The life of modern mankind is presented very negatively and ignorantly by Matthew Arnold in the poem Dover Beach by the fact that religious faith evanesce with the Industrial Revolution. Arnold creates the image of the dark future for the people without unwavering faith or religion.

Modern men are bastardised with the thought that new the Industrial Revolution will give them advantage over nature. This thought of gaining superiority made humans arrogant by which this appearance is broken by the reality of nature’s dominance. People also seem ignorant with the wishful thought. These pebbles which ‘the waves draw back, and fling’ are completely powerless and are thrown around by the waves that move these “pebbles” at ease. Arnold uses pebbles as a metaphor for humans to show the inferiority in comparison to nature. The ignorance of humans is emphasised by the historical allusion to Peloponnesian War. In the dark, soldiers could not differentiate between their own army and the opponents; and so they killed their own soldiers. This is used by the poet to show the stupidity of modern man throwing away the religion which was everything to people before the Industrial Revolution; something to believe and rely on when people prayed. However, this old belief is thrown away and Arnold sees it as a very naïve decision.

The Industrial Revolution gave the source of arrogance and confidence which took place among the Western countries. This revolution was revolutionary itself; humans could mass produce, with improved quality, and at ease. These machineries became the limbs of human society. What came with the industrial revolution was the idea of realism. People could nearly produce goods to near-original standards, all thanks to improved technologies and science, and hence began to doubt the existence of God and supernatural beings. Realism contrasts the theology which is all about belief without questioning that God exists; and people believed it before the times of the machineries. It gave people hope and modesty under the mighty existence of God. However both hope and modesty disappeared with the Industrial Revolution which Arnold laments for. Bitterness is suggested when Arnold exclaims ‘Ah, love’ to show that in this changing world, one can only rely on the partner, and be trustful and true. Sarcasm is used to describe the modern world as a ‘land of dreams’ as there is no more hope for the world, as there is no more faith.

As the poem proceeds, the transition of mood is noticeable as the grief of the loss of faith extends to a sense of resignation towards the end and having a sarcastic, sour approach to the issue. The ‘tremulous cadence slow’ helps to convey the gradual process of the wane of doctrine which adds to the idea that the change of people’s lives is almost unnoticeable. This gradual process hurts Arnold because people are caught unaware of the changes taking place and so do not think it is particularly wrong and sinful. Arnold presents his sorrow with the historical allusion to Sophocles who, was a Greek playwright, had heard the sound of waves crashing as the ‘eternal note of sadness’. The ‘sadness’ of the mankind turning away from religious beliefs is a parallel to the ‘melancholy… withdrawing roar…retreating’ of the waves. Before the development of science and technology, people had truly believed in the religion and thought that they were in total control of god. The metaphor ‘Sea of Faith’ which presents the religious faith people have, used to be ‘full and round Earth’s shore’ but now is ‘retreating… down the vast edges’ which shows the decreasing religious beliefs. Arnold points out that, without faith, humans are ‘naked’ and have no protection and defence which reflects the vulnerability of man and their lives.

With carefully chosen words, Arnold presents the uncertainty of the future of humans. The new industrialised world seems “so various, so beautiful, so new” but it is again a mere appearance. The reality is that this mechanic, stiff world will have “neither joy, nor love, nor light” because this mechanics cannot feel love, hence no joy, and no vision as humans need love and the warm characteristics of humanity. It is thus deducible that the future will have no “certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain” which are the essentialities of humans. Humans can only survive the harsh world when everybody believes and trusts each other, and this will be broken with the introduction of industrialisation. This change of the world will bring “confused alarms on struggle and flight” which creates an imagery of a “darkling plain”; a dark vision for humans. Furthermore, the “turbid” ebb and flow shows the cloudy, uncertain future of ‘ebb and flow’ which is the repetitive cycles of nature. Can humans only survive when they make harmony with the nature, and to go against the natural cycles can only mean extinction of humans. The ‘cliffs’ of England ‘gleams’ and ‘glimmers’; gleams and glimmers have a sense of shakiness, precariousness and unknown which echoes the uncertain modern man. Also the alliteration of ‘g’ and ‘m’ creates a stuttering tone which adds to the idea of uncertainty. This imagery portrays the withering away of cliffs as a decline of religious beliefs and whatsmore, deterioration of the Earth itself as humans exploit resources out of the Earth which the modern development enabled men to do.

The flaws of modernism and realism are expressed in this poem. The flow of the poem is cut off by uses of caesura which is a parallel to the imperfect modern world. Arnold gives a hint that modernization of the world will have some flaws which will inevitably bring loss of faith and result in loss of equilibrium. In science, there is no hope; everything is measured out and exact. Hence in the modern world reality there can be no hope as it looks vain. Again, Arnold sympathises with the loss of hope in reality. In a different sense, the calm, naturalistic description of a beach at night in the first stanza is the appearance which contrasts to the reality that is sad, unhopeful, ‘retreating’ and ‘tremulous’.

Human beings are inferior over nature and the spiritual beliefs as to an extent that people cannot control anything. The abandonment of the doctrine of religion with the help of the Industrial Revolution is only a vain act against the power-overwhelming nature. Religion and faith should remain in humanity and ignoring it should result in the uncertainty and vulnerability of modern man.

Analysis on ‘So We Shall No More Go A Roving’

Explore how the words of Lord Byron’s ‘So We’ll Go No More A-Roving’ vividly convey the character of the speaker in the poem.

Lord Byron was a very socially active poet and wrote ‘So We’ll Go No More A-Roving’ at the age of twenty-nine. He was notorious for living his life indulgently with love affairs and wealth, and in this poem, Byron realises his dilapidated physical and spiritual state due to the uncountable number of nights being relentless and making love. A melancholy tone is built up through auditory effects, and by employing various techniques, Byron expresses his view with vividness that love is a powerful and irresistible force yet something that is not eternal.

This short and succinct poem makes effective use of auditory features. It begins with long and slow ‘O’ sounds, “We’ll go no more a-roving,” and implies the poet’s weary and exasperated consciousness. A “moaning” effect is created by this assonance, which may be Byron’s reflection on his physical state. In addition, sibilance is used in the second stanza, “For the sword outwears its sheath,” which also extends the delicate sound of “s” conveying Byron’s state of fragility. Also, that phrase is very smooth when enunciated, further emphasising Byron’s listlessness due to his increasing age and his rather unscrupulous way of recreation.

Bryon uses the moon as a symbol for the passion for his wish to make love. The phrase, “So late into the night … moon be still as bright” suggests that Bryon believes that there is no difference between day and night to him. From the first stanza, we can infer that Bryon does not believe night is for sleeping, and wants to waste no time of his life and continuously indulge in affairs. In the last sentence of the poem, this same idea is reinforced as the poet accepts that he cannot continue this lavish love life “by the light of the moon.”

Despite Lord Byron’s limitless desire for romance, he acknowledges his feebleness of body and mind, which shows that Byron has a hint of sensibility in him despite his rather immoral and profuse lifestyle. There are two distinct innuendoes of the second stanza. The sword may have a phallic allusion, while the sheath is a symbol of a female. The phrase “the sword outwears its sheath,” indicates that Byron is now tired and has had enough. Otherwise, the “sword” may represent Bryon’s spirit or conscience, while the “sheathe” is what contains his spirit, which is his body. In other words, Byron’s way of acting due to the influence of his soul has taken its toll on his outer appearance, and therefore he recognises the need to take a break from his usual life. By saying that “The heart must pause to breathe and love itself must have rest” Byron finally acknowledges that he has lived beyond his physical capabilities and admits that it is difficult to restrain oneself from something as compulsive as love, but failure to do so will result in morbid consequences.

The poem ‘So We’ll Go No More A-Roving’ boldly portrays the character of Byron, whose life was full of luxuries and women. He uses this poem to express his need to cease his activities, as at the age of twenty-nine, he was becoming severely enervated. Due to his extravagant lifestyle, Lord Byron died at age thirty-six. Despite Byron’s insatiable passion for more love, he admits that he has been worn out and must stop “a-roving.”’

Analysis on Barrett Browning’s ‘Sonnet 43’

To help you with composing a written response on poetry, I have included samples of students’ work (with their permission) to assist you in developing your writing skills. These essays were written by students who had very little experience writing essays on poetry, and indeed, it is the first one they have ever written. Writing an essay is not easy, but hopefully you may be able to identify a kind of pattern in their written responses.

Essay One

‘Sonnet 43’ is a romantic poem, written by Elizabeth Barrett Browning. In the poem she is trying to describe the abstract feeling of love by measuring how much her love means to her. She also expresses all the different ways of loving someone and she tells us about her thoughts around her beloved. The tone of the poem is deep, in a loving way.

The poet starts of by saying “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways,” by which she starts of with a rhetorical question, because there is no ‘reason’ for love. Rather than using “why” she enforces this meaning. But then she goes on saying that she will count the ways, which is a contradiction against her first line. In the rest of the poem she is explaining how much she loves. In the second line she says “I love thee to the depth & breath & height” using normal measurements for something that cannot be measured. This is a spatial metaphor. In this way she is trying to illustrate she loves every single piece of him. That there is nothing that she would change about him. Barrett Browning also never uses markers such as he, she, him or her. This is a sonnet and all sonnets have 14 lines where the two last usually have a broader meaning than the rest of the sonnet. In the final lines she has achieved this by bringing up the subject of the afterlife – “and, if God choose, I shall but love thee better after death”.

In the sonnet, Barrett Browning repeats “I love thee” over and over again rather than using different words for love. This is to enforce the already existing knowledge about the strength of her love, and that what she feels is love, nothing more and nothing less. Also, by repeating it she is enforcing it on the readers that she loves him and there is nothing else to do about it, nothing that will make her change her mind. Also in the poem, no gender is implied. She just keeps saying “Thee” which has a certain formality over it. This is a very powerful key factor to the poem because she uses no gender markers such as him, her, she, he which makes it possible for the poem to be read out loud to any gender with any sexual preference. When she mentions her childhood’s faith she is implying the innocence of their relationship and how they can be naïve sometimes. But love needs naivety to survive. If you cannot believe there is no need for even trying.

In the poem, Barrett Browning says “My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight”. This is an illustration of how much she trusts him. Even though she cannot see the ending of how this love will end, she trusts him and is willing to reach out in darkness, not knowing what’s coming for her. She also says “I love thee with the breath, smiles, tears of all my life!” This is implying that no matter what is going on in her life, whether something horrible happened or it’s just a normal day, she trusts him to stay by her side and that she will love every minute of it. Barrett Browning also mentions the sun and candle-light while talking about her love. This line is one of the only lines where she is using concrete imagery. She is using the image of light being constant and abstract saying that her love will forever go on but with a sense of mystery. The sun is also a very well known image for being strong, powerful, and good. Also, even when you can’t see the sun, you know it’s there and you know that it will always come back and brighten up your day. The sun is something human beings can’t live without and this is how Barrett Browning is illustrating her love. She can’t live without him. By using ‘sun’ she can also link it to ‘love’, seeing as for her, that is what her love is, strong and passionate. Before that Barrett Browning says “I love thee to the level of every day’s most quiet need”, implying that she needs him, even when there is nothing special happening. That she just needs him in her life. Without him it’s not the same. By the end of the poem, the poet says “and, if God choose, I shall but love thee better after death.” This is a very dramatic ending to such a romantic poem and might be seen as a hyperbole. What she’s saying is that if God gave her a choice between her own life and his, she would choose for him to live and that when she is dead, she can finally love him to the depth that he deserves, without anything standing in her way. That she could finally pay him back for all the things he did for her, by giving him her life, for eternity. Not only that, but she creates the image of their love, being infinite, that it will continue even after death tears them apart. Also, by mentioning Gods choice she increases the importance of their love.

When the poet mentions “With my lost Saints” she is referring to those people in her life that she trusted and loved, which in the end, betrayed her. When she says “Saints” she is referring to the glorification she put on them, how much she trusted them increasing the power of their betrayal. By using this in a poem about love she makes the reader think that the person writing this is not naïve, that she is able to ask questions and not let everything pass her by. She is saying that people have betrayed her before, and that she has learned from her mistakes and that she is one hundred percent sure that he will not betray her, that he is ‘The one’. Earlier on, Barrett Browning says “I love thee purely” meaning that there is no distrust, no judgment in their love. When something is pure it means that his has no flaws. But by saying this she also raises a question by which love really can be pure or if this is just a similarity. That it is as close to pure as possible. Also, in the line “I love thee freely, as men strive for right” she is saying that she loves him, without expecting anything back. Also that she is willing to fight for him. The thing about this sonnet is that it is written in present. This enforces that it’s not a love that has been nor will be, it is something which is going on right now creating a sense of infinite flow to the poem.

In the poem, Barrett Browning is using infrequent rhymes. An example of this is in the line “I love thee to the depth and breath and height” and the third line “My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight”, where ‘height’ and ‘sight’ rhymes. This creates a flow to the poem, giving it a sense of purity and also she might be suggesting a sense of completeness in love. While reading poems, most people find it calming to (unconsciously) see the rhymes. When they are analyzing the poem, people will see that she chose her words with care and put a lot of thought into it. This is a very important key factor to a poem. The word “love”, is repeated frequently in the sonnet, increasing the message. Also, the fact that she never uses any synonyms for love makes us realize that what she feels is love. That there is no other words that can be used to describe this, because love is such an abstract word and also is a very difficult word to describe.

In the end, Barrett Browning achieved what she wanted. She brought out to the world the tremendous, abstract subject of love, and with great success. She warms up our hearts by showing her passion to her beloved, how openly and freely she trusts him. After reading this poem it’s hard to forget it. It also might leave a smile on your face. We are left with the enviable feeling of love, stuck in our hearts and the belief that love can last, if we fight for it. I think that with the use of her symbols, metaphors, verbs and adjectives she achieved the maximum amount of standard in this sonnet. Also, the fact that we have to use time to see the connections with the verbs and nouns, but not too much, is great. Another thing is that the message is clearly presented to the reader, making it easier to understand, still leaving the mystery for us to solve. It’s quite a magical sonnet, exploring the abstract power of love.

Essay 2

The poem “Sonnet 43” by Elizabeth Barrett-Browning is about love. The entire poem is actually the poet trying to answer the first line of the poem, which is; “How do I love the?” The reader does not expect the poet to answer this question, because it is not only a rhetorical question, but also it seems almost impossible to answer this question. However, the poet does a brilliant job doing that by “Counting the ways” of how she loves “thee”. The main message of this poem is that the poet wants to describe her very powerful feeling of love for someone. This poem causes the reader to almost explore the poet’s passion for her feeling of love, due to the strong words used by the poet and by the repetitive statement “I love thee”.

The poem starts by the poet asking a rhetorical question; “How do I love thee?”, with poet counting the ways how she loves “thee” instead of trying to explain how she loves “thee”. She does so because she cannot possible explain her love, so she starts with listing some, perhaps the most passionate ways of her love towards “thee”. The next few lines of the poem are the poet’s way of trying to express a way of how she feels. She states “I love thee to the depth and breadth and height”, which means she loves him in all possible directions. She includes this line in the poem to explain that there is not one direction in which she does not have the feeling of love. The poet then goes on by explaining her constant feeling of love by stating that she loves “thee by sun and candle-light”. This means her feeling of love for “thee” is a constant, never ending feeling. The line simply means that her love is like light, it is always there, and whether it is the sun providing the light at day or it is the candle providing the light at night.
The poet then continues by almost going on by stating that her love for “thee” is pure, which means that there is nothing between her and her love. She also states that she loves with passion and with faith. Then the poem almost goes towards a negative direction. When the poet goes refers back into her childhood history, by stating that “I love thee with a love I seemed to lose”. By that line she refers that her ability to feel love was destroyed, due to the well – documented history of an abusive father. Some people with abusive parents lose the ability to love, even to trust someone. But the poet describes how glad she is that “thee” came into her life, because that almost gave her the chance to experience the beautiful feeling of love, which she never really felt by her parents. Coming near to the end of the poem, the poet states that “I love thee with the breath, smiles, tears, of all my life!” This means that her love almost became necessary for her to stay alive, like “breathing”. She cannot survive without love, same as she cannot survive without breathing. The last line of the poem is in my opinion very mysterious. “I shall love the better after death.” This could possibly refer to her saying that there is no way that she can love “thee” as much as “thee” deserves it, so she states that she will still love “thee” after her life is over. She, again, does so because she wants to try to explain that there is no way that she can love “thee” as much as she wants to, so she states something which seems impossible, which is also her trying to express her feeling of love.

The poet uses many different words to try to explain the significance of her love. The effects of the words alone sometimes help the reader understand more about the poem. For example, in line seven, the poet uses the words “freely” and “right”. Those are significant word choices, because people fight for rights, to be free, and relating to the poem, be free to love anyone they want. Also, it describes that no one is forced to love someone, you are free weather you want to love or not. People sometimes fight to receive someone’s love.

The poet includes a significant amount of imagery in this poem. This poet paints many images in the readers mind when stating things such as: “I love thee to the depth and breadth and height.” This creates an image in the reader’s head of this endless love in all directions. The next thing the poet does is that she describes her constant feeling of love by comparing it to light from the sun, therefor at day, and candle-light, therefor at night. With this line, the reader can almost picture her constant love, by just pretty much thinking about the sun light and the candle light.

The word class used in this poem is rather special and unique. First of all, there are no gender markings through out the whole sonnet, which is very unusual. However, this makes the poem unique, and you can feel relation to it whether you are male or female, and that is certainly one of the things that makes this poem enjoyable and almost kind of special.

There is no doubt that there is a high rate of repetition in this poem. The words “I love thee” are used nine times in the poem. The repetitiveness of this makes the words almost flow in the readers head, even though the poem in a whole doesn’t include rhymes. Next, the poet makes a good use of including the difference of the sound of the words in the poem. The first few lines of the poem include deep, long vowel sounds such as the line: “I love thee to the depth and breadth and height”. This also includes a repetitive sound of the letter “e”, which adds and extra feeling to the depth of the line. However, this alternates as the poem goes on. Near the end of the poem, in the line “Smiles, tears, of all my life! – and, if God choose”, the sounds of the words are clearly softer, not so deep anymore, and shorter.

In conclusion, I like this poem as a whole. The poet uses a great choice of words, and it seems that there is a deep meaning behind every line. Also, in some very well created lines, you can almost feel the powerful feeling of love that the poet is trying to explain and describe. Also, I like this poem, because the main aim is not necessarily to explain her love, but to list the most passionate ways of how she loves. The poet also describes her never-ending, constant feeling of love by comparing it to a form of matter, which is quite interesting. Personally I believe that the poet was very successful in conveying her message. Her message is as simple as “I love you” , but she included amazing amounts of detail, in which she included expressing her thoughts, experiences and feeling, which make a very positive impact on the reader. All in all, it is a really enjoyable poem for the reader to read, because you can relate to it, whether male or female.

Essay Number Three

Love is an emotion that most people will go through at least once in their lives. When asked about the true meaning of love, one might say that your love is someone you are willing to die for or that love in priceless. But no one can really tell you the true meaning of love, because everyone has different characters, and different love interests, and we would all have person points of views of love. If someone says that they can give you the true meaning of love, he or she would be lying, because all they can give you is their relative experience of love, and it therefore becomes an opinion. We find different ways of expressing our love, through songs, others though short stories or big novels. Poets like Elizabeth Barrett-Browning choose to pen a poem, to express their feelings. Her ability to write that many exceptional poems full of love should really show the extent of her love to her husband. The poem is written from the viewpoint of a deeply devoted wife, full of affection for her significant other. She is also very religious, as the poem contains many references to her religion of Christianity and god.

Lines 1-12 are about love, and then it shifts to a more serious tone, where the poet speaks about love. In the lines 2-3, 5-6, 9-14, the poet uses enjambment, which helps the poem ‘run on’, so you flow into the next line and continue momentum instead of the usual rhythm a poem would have. The first line “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways”, makes the readers think that it is a rhetorical question, but in fact, the whole poem is the answer to this question. As the reader reads on, he or she realizes that the poem actually gives the ways in which she loves her partner in life. The next line she says and explains that her love was “to the depth and breadth and height my soul can reach” which shows that her love has no boundaries, and is only limited by how much she can achieve, or the extent of her reach.

In the next line, she says that “she loves thee purely”, which explains that she only loves her husband, not anyone else. Also, she explains that she loves him as he “as they turn from praise” which means that her love is lasting, unlike the temporary good feeling achieved from someone praising you. In the next line, she says that “I love thee with a love I seemed to lose, With my lost saints”, suggesting that she has transformed the love she used to have for someone she admired, but was let down, and has since channeled it towards her new lover with the same intensity. She next writes that she “shall but love thee better after death”, which suggests that her love for her husband extends to after both of them have passed away. Her love then might be even stronger, because in the life we are living now, we are constantly bombarded by huge amounts of stress, worrying about things, making tough decisions and many other factors. With these annoyances, it is hard to find time or even space to have a love life. In the afterlife, we need not face the problems we encounter in our everyday lives, allowing us to be able to love someone with no limits, even ‘better after death”, focusing all your time and love to your soul mate.
The poet’s choice of words is rather formal, yet passionate, and definitely romantic.

At the start of the poem, she asks “how do I love thee”, which provides the feeling of a rhetorical question, when in fact, it is not, as the whole poem itself gives answers to the question. Also, in the poem she hyperbolizes when she explains her extent of her love to her lover. A good example would be when she writes, in line 2 and 3 that she “loves thee to the depth and breadth and height, my soul can reach”. She contrasts the two nouns, sun and candle-light in line 6, which are two different types of light sources which people use; one natural and used in the day, and one artificial and used at night. She could also have meant that it was a replacement for night and day, stating the fact that without light there is no life, and without life, there would not be love. Also, you would need light to see, to guide you through life, to find your lover. Thus, without light, you will never find the person you love, your one true love. She “loves thee purely, as men strive for Right”, which shows that her love’s will is as strong as the will of the people who are willing to stand up against for the better good, to fight for the what is right. Throughout the poem, she uses allusions to allows readers to interpret on their own the meaning of a sentence or phrase, such as her “old griefs”. That could allude to her sad childhood, or the hatred that she once had for someone, which was turned to love for her husband. In lines 2, 5, 7-9 and 11, she employs the use anaphora beginning and ending with the phrase, “l love thee”. The effect of parallel structure shows that the poem is more of a list of the how she feels towards her lover, rather than a telling a story of what their love is.

Through the use of spatial metaphors, such as “I love thee to the depth and breadth and height my soul can reach”, the three dimensional space is conveyed, showing the extent of her reach, or the extent of her love. The effect achieved is that we understand the vastness of the love, but we cannot get a picture in his/her mind of exactly how much that is due to its limitlessness. She also uses symbolism; represents her love through different words, such as saying that her love is like her every “breath, smiles, tears”. This suggest that she loves him with every smile that crosses her face, which shows that her happiness is always an expression of loving him, and also the sad times, thus the “tears” and even unemotional moments of merely breathing in and out. The effect created by this is that these bodily reactions can be compared to her soul as she transforms the bodily realm to be with god, “if he chooses”. Also, we can understand that her love can range from the smiles of happiness to something like breathing, which we do every second of our lives. The repetition of the ‘th’ sounds can also suggest breathing. However, the lines 5-6 are the only lines which use concrete imagery – ‘sun’ and ‘light’ however it is still very much abstract, as is the whole poem. The effect achieved by this is that it would make the reader think about the poem, and then deducing what is meant by what she says.

One of the most intriguing aspects of the poem is that the poet does not specify his or her gender, keeping in line with the vagueness of the rest of the poem. Because of the lack of gender markers, readers would have to interpret themselves who the poem is for, thus making the poem popular, as readers would find it easy to associate with their lives, and also because the rest of the poem is equally ambiguous, allowing readers to interpret the poem to fit their own lives, and thus associate with it. If she had used more specific terms, like changing the word “thee” to her husband’s name of Robert, readers might not have the same amount of interest, as their names would not be Robert; save for a few who actually are though. This is likewise for the gender of the author. If she had given any form of clue that allowed readers to determine her gender, then the male readers would not have the same amount of interest in the poem, as they would not be able to relate to it. In this way the poem is all-inclusive.

The poem “How do I love thee” has a rhyme scheme of an Italian sonnet because of its rhyme scheme of ABBA, AABB, ACAC, DCD. It has an iambic pentameter rhythm with 10 syllables per line with five pairs of unstressed and stressed syllables. She also uses internal rhyming, seen in “depth and breadth and height”. She also uses anaphora, using of “I love thee” eight times and another “I shall but love thee” in the last line”. Also the word “love” is repeated nine times, building up rhythm while emphasizing again that she really has deep feelings for her beloved. She also uses alliteration, examples would be ‘soul’ and sight on line 3, ‘love’ and ‘level’ in line 3 and ‘pure’ and ‘praise’ in line 8. The effect of the alliteration is that it makes the poem aids in memory because it is catchy, and makes the poem sound better, and helps emphasize about her deep emotions for her husband. It can also help aid readers to remember the poem better, for example, you would more likely remember a poem with the title “the menace of money” than “money is bad” .

After reading the poem, I feel that the very mysteriousness of this poem and abstractness allows readers to interpret the poem differently, which could also mean that love itself is up to anyone individual to interpret, as love would be different to everyone, depending on their character and who they love. Unlike other poems, the poet does not directly talk about how she loves her husband, rather she uses vague terms like “most quiet need” which could have a few meanings, like for example the everyday necessities like water we need to survive. Finally, this poem is enjoyable to readers because its open-endedness allows for different readers to interpret the poem differently, to suit their own life, whether male or female.


 Explore how Elizabeth Barrett Browning conveys in “Sonnet 43” the extent of her feelings for her future husband.
Elizabeth’s love for her future husband, Robert Browning, is profound and without restrictions throughout her sonnet, as she charts out the explanation of the couple’s impassioned relationship. The poet uses a variety of repetitions and religious associations to accentuate the fact that their love exceeds the level of simple emotional exchange but is rather a spiritual, religious and eternally binding connection which is unwavering even under the forces of ageing and death.

The phrase “I love thee” is repeated many times throughout the poem which emphasises the idea that Browning’s love seems genuine and heartfelt, imparting the sonnet with a sense of emotional fervour. The central question “How do I love thee?” highlights the problem which Browning must strive to resolve. This could be seen as rhetorical as the poet has directed a question at the reader, but is, herself, determined to ponder over it. Suggested by the phrase “let me” is the fact that Browning is dominating over the reader’s stream-of-consciousness and is inspired to invoke her true passion for Robert. This forcefulness of feelings emulates the fact that the sentiments of their relationship overpowers Elizabeth’s emotions. Biblical allusions are made by the words “freely” and “purely”, emphasising the religious insinuations of deity and godliness and the emotional exchange at a morally higher level. Those two words in combination reinforce the idea that Browning has not been coerced mentally into entering a frictional and untruthful communication of emotions. Thus, such purity, as Elizabeth expresses her passion with freedom and candour, can be paralleled with the essence of extreme morality and virtue entailed by religion and God. Her inherent zeal is not being undermined by the unscrupulous and distasteful facade of love, especially the exploitation or abuse in false love relationships. The very word “thee” also has religious insinuations of deity and godliness, imbuing Robert, through the eyes of Elizabeth, with a higher position of righteousness and virtue which finally reinforces the complete respect and moral faith she entrusts in him.

An example of light, in the form of “sun and candlelight”, reiterates the flawlessness of the Brownings’ relationship. The “candle-light” endows it with a romantic and sensuous dimension in addition to the aforementioned spirituality, while it could also represent the method in which their love perpetuates through the day, conveyed by “sun”, and through the night, which points to the candles as an utility to generate light. There are nevertheless further metaphorical interpretations of this candle-light. The reader could understand that light empowers one with a sense of direction, aligning with the idea that the Brownings’ intimate camaraderie is not stagnated. Unlike many failures of relationships, Elizabeth portrays their kinship as forward-progressive and continually developing, in contrast to the deterioration of engagements into stunted and uncommunicative affairs, whereby the partners fail to maintain any resemblance of a convivial affinity. In the same line is the point that the Brownings are inseparable from their sentiments felt for each other and even in thought processes; loving Robert has become a “quiet need” which is necessary to ensure her survival. This is an almost radical view of love as being encompassed within the list of the five basic needs. The idea of “needs”, where Elizabeth must love him in order to survive, can also be related to her eternal desire for unbounded love after death, showing her immutable devotion and lending of her “soul” to her future husband.

The poem transitions into a state of mind where there is a progressive intensification of Elizabeth’s love towards a level of religious and moral righteousness through the abundant use of biblical allusions. “The ends of Being” hints at Browning’s perception of life and death. Although she believes that relationships can only germinate within a period of a lifespan, the only method to preserve one’s fervour for the other is through heaven after death. However, such a rationale is not considered by Browning to be intimidating; in fact, her tone towards the end of the sonnet transposes into one of resignation and welcomeness, conveyed by the phrases “love thee better after my death”. Thus in this way, the poet is accepting and appreciative of the consolidation of her relationship after her death, reiterating her fidelity to Robert Browning. Continuing this idea is the “ideal Grace” with religious associations also, highlighting at the state of mercy and paradise on jubilant terms with God. This suffices as an “ideal” heaven-like setting or foundation from which such an intense bond can be condensed. Further allusions to Christianity are the phrases “strive for Right” and “turn from Praise”. As a man, Robert is inculcated by the poet with undeviating humanity, and this illustrates that Elizabeth is partly idealistic in the sense that she views every man in a relationship to be entrusted with the ideal qualities of integrity and chastity, qualities which a proportion of unfaithful men blatantly lack. Without doubt, the portrayal of the men as godly and abiding by society’s scruples is continued with “turn[ing] from Praise”, elucidating the fact that Robert does not require the accolade from the female counterparts for upholding humanitarian and moral virtues. He is therefore painted in a more divine and virtuous light while the extent of her love is communicated by the way she appreciates and “love[s] thee purely” for his unbending and loyal conscience in her relationship.

A contrast of Elizabeth’s tone throughout the poem is made, from an intransigent mindset, implied by “let me”. It shows the poet’s aggressive determination and almost secularism, as she fails to introduce God as the superlative moral deity. However, towards the end, Browning acknowledges the supremacy of religion and does not attempt to undermine God’s ultimate piety. Her love is left to be moulded by the forces of destiny “if God choose”, demonstrating her direct appeal to God to preserve their everlasting love. In other words, her love, however divine and unyielding it may be, will not surpass the superiority of religion. Such a juxtaposition of tone underscores her assertiveness and fervour, and simultaneously her acceptance of Christianity presiding over her fate.

The concept of intangibility and infinity is indicated through Browning’s energetically toned words such as “count”. This suggests to the reader that her methods to love Robert are clearly limited and quantifiable. The finite volume of love is further expressed by “depth & breath & height” whereby the amount of emotions entailed in the poet can be almost calculated arithmetically. However, her feelings reflect upon the progression from a love bounded by mathematical parameters to one which is not pinioned from infinite expansion. Concepts such as in “soul” and “out of sight” are very abstract and surreal; the reader finds it difficult to locate precisely the nature or extent to which such love applies.

Elizabeth Browning questions her ability to enumerate the reasons for the intense passion felt for Robert Browning, but throughout her sonnet, effectively demonstrates that the extent and development of such feelings are not repressed and are boundless. Several biblical references, such as the “men striv[ing] for Right”, parallels her future husband with a paragon of godly faith and moral uprightness, reiterating the fervent emotions for a flawless ideal man. Hence, Browning’s sonnet is a successful polar counterpoint to Edna Millay’s Sonnet “Pity Me Not”, exploring the idea of the cyclical destruction and insignificance of woman’s desire for a masculine figure.

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EXPLORE HOW ELIZABETH BROWNING CONVEYS IN “SONNET 43” THE EXTENT OF HER FEELINGS FOR HER FUTURE HUSBAND?
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In Sonnet 43, Elizabeth Browning is writing a testament of the love for her husband-to-be, Robert Browning. A sonnet is derived from the Italian word sonneto, literally “little song”, mainly expressing love. Browning’s sonnet is an ultimate profession of love that encompasses her whole being.

Browning comments, “Let me count the ways!” signals that there are too many ways in which she loves her husband-to-be. This line emphasizes the extent to which she loves Robert as it implies there is an infinite number of ways that she loves him. It is an exclamation; as if she is astounded by the extent of her love for her husband, even she is not capable of measuring the depth to which she loves him. She furthers the fact that her love for him is limitless by using the internal rhymes of “depth & breadth & height”. They tell us that she loves Robert with every dimension of her being, which is quite an abstract concept as it is hard to pin down the extent to which your “soul can reach”. By showing the dimensions of her love, she proposes the fact that her love is quantifiable. But by contradicting this with the infinite limitations of her soul, she is dismissing this idea and suggests that her love is immeasurable. Thus, Browning is saying that her love for her husband is boundless and limitless by using the abstract concept of the soul’s reaches.

Browning portrays Robert as her redeemer, her savior from past griefs. She writes “I love thee with the passion, put to use/In my old griefs”, suggesting her sorrows of growing up – her mother and favourite brother dying – have been forgotten, or at least numbed, by her love founded in Robert. She would have grieved immensely when she lost her family, yet the intensity of her anguish and sorrow has been transferred to Robert. She emphasises the intensity has been “put to use”, it has not been wasted and has been put into the love in her relationship with Robert. She is also conveying that the passion with which she loves Robert is like that only reserved for the grieving of the loss of loved ones. She again furthers this idea when she goes on to say “I love thee with the love I seemed to lose/With my lost Saints”. In this line, she is saying that she has recovered from the grievances of her mother and brother .Her love for Robert has been replaced with the love she once bore for her “lost saints.”

Browning also suggests that Robert is the new focus of her intensity that was concentrated on her religious beliefs as a child; she used to be greatly religious when she was younger. Thus, she states she loves him “with my childhood’s faith”. She is suggesting her love for Robert is as strong as her faith was in religion as a child. She compares her love to Robert as that of religion – unquestioning, innocent and followed with blind faith. She is also stating that her religious beliefs as a child would have been unchangeable. Thus, her love for Robert is not going to change, even in the face of despair and disaster. When she talks about her “lost Saints” she is talking about her waywardness in religion. So Browning is suggesting that her love with Robert has revived her and has made her believe in religion and all things holy again. This point can be furthered when she surrenders to the will of God, “If God choose”. It is as if she is making up with God and seeing the way of religion  again. She suggests that this is because Robert has resurrected her belief in religion, as if her love is so unbelievably good there must be a God – to give Browning such a miracle as great as Robert.

In Sonnet 43 by Elizabeth Browning, she conveys her love for her future husband Robert Browning by saying it is immeasurable and unbounded; through the suggestion that the reaches of her soul are infinite, therefore, so is her love for Robert. Moreover, she says Robert is her redeemer form past ills and that she has recovered from the losses of her mother and brother because of this. Finally, Browning suggests the focus she put on religion as a child is now put into their relationship.

748 words

 

Explore how the words of Elizabeth Barrett Browning “Sonnet 43” vividly convey the character of the speaker in the poem

The assertiveness of Browning’s expression of love to her husband reveals how she is almost trying to convince herself of the pureness of her relationship with her husband. Her immeasurable love for her husband tells the reader how generous she is in terms of love and devotion. She is also shown to be religious and have a moral compass such that she values purity and the good values promoted by most religions.

By using the words “freely” and “purely” Browning exposes how she uses love as a shield against depression, as it is highly unlikely that she is so naïve as to believe that her relationship with her husband is a model relationship: pure and free of conflict. Naivety and innocence are not what the apparent innocence actually is, and is instead her wanting to make herself believe in such true love in order to wash away and cover up her past troubles. Then again, the reader is not able to be absolutely certain that this is the case, creating an effect of ambiguity where the reader is unsure whether Browning is actually as innocent and naïve as her words tell the reader, or if she is forcing herself to believe that her relationship is perfect in order to keep herself away from sadness and possible depression resulting from recalling her “old griefs”. Using ambiguity here makes the reader’s image of Browning to change: where before there was probably a loving woman with pure love and devotion for her husband there is now somebody more complex, with a hint of self-doubt.

“Everyday’s most quiet need” is an example of metonymy, as “everyday” refers to all the living humans on the planet. Breathing is the most likely thing being referred to, as it is usually both quiet and essential to stay alive. “By sun and candlelight” implies that Browning’s love for her husband manifests itself in different ways, as breathing takes on different forms such as heavy breathing after exercise, silent subconscious breathing, and the notorious hyperventilation, and breathing is generally viewed as being more intense during the day then at night. Loving her husband with the “breath, smiles, tears” of my life further emphasise this, as these three words represent three important aspects of life: “breath” means the essence of her being, in other words her soul, while “smiles” and “tears” represents the ‘ups’ and ‘downs’ of life. By using these three different components of human life to describe her love for her husband she reinforces the idea that she is actively convincing herself that her relationship with her husband is perfect. It also shows something else about her character: her devotion and generosity.e essence of her being, in other words her soul, while “e”till believes that God has the ability to decide when she die

Generosity is usually associated with money and gifts, but Browning’s generosity is with love and devotion. Her devotion and love for her husband is shown by how she uses absolutely everything she has to love her husband, the aforementioned three components of human life. Her love for her husband is so great that when she tries to quantify it with the mathematical words “depth and breadth and height” she is unable to, as shown by how she slips into the phrase “my soul can reach” because souls are abstract and are not thought of as having a finite reach, the word ”reach” meaning a person reaching out to others for love, care and help. Browning’s devotion to her husband turns into almost hero-worshipping and idolising, as her husband is the hero who saved her from her grief. This is shown by how lines 2 and 3 can be read in different ways: line 1 and the first half of line 2 together, or the two lines can be read as 2 separate sentences. Reading these two lines the first way implies that her love for her husband is endless and unbounded, while the second way suggests that her husband is her hero; when she is “feeling out of sight” of God, meaning when she is lonely and/or depressed, she is able to “reach” to her husband for comfort. Having two different implications, depending on how the lines are read, hints to the reader how fine the line is between love and worshipping. Differentiating between the two is particularly important as the entire poem is about the poet’s love for her husband and there is no love returned mentioned, suggesting that the poet knows the difference between the two but her convincing herself that their love is pure and absolute has made her more of a worshipper than a lover which, although not necessarily a bad thing, is not the same and has connotations of blindness.

The various references to God and religious aspects show clearly that Browning is very religious. Phrases such as “lost Saints” and “I love thee … childhood’s faith” suggest that her religious faith has been fading slowly over time and that she has grown distant from religion, but her love for her husband has compensated for it. This further emphasises the strength and intensity of her love for her husband; it is so great that even religious belief cannot compare to it. However, her faith in religion is not all lost and she does believe in the justice and morality of following it. Religion is shown to have taught her valuable morals and given her a good moral compass, as she recognizes the righteousness in the men who “strive for Right” and their refusal of praise. “Right” could mean both justice and human rights, the second interpretation reinforced by the word “freely”. The ambiguity here shows the reader how Browning believes that the two different meanings are in reality equivalent and by incorporating a reference to human rights movements in a poem about an ideal love she reveals her beliefs about the subject of love, a view taught through Christianity and many other religions: love your neighbour and treat them as you would want to be treated. In this way Browning has set a moral standard for herself; she wants to keep the mistreatment of others to as low a level as possible.

Although religion is important to Browning, love is shown to be thought of as superior to any faith by her, as even though she can feel “out of sight” in terms of religion she loves her husband “by sun and candlelight” and it never wanes. Also, there are hints that her love for her husband is almost a substitute for religion, as she loves him “with a love I seemed to lose with my lost saints”. However, she has not lost her religious belief completely, as she still believes that God has the ability to decide when she dies.

Browning’s character, personality and beliefs are exposed in the poem and show that everything is not always as it seems and that her love for her husband is not completely ideal, not because of a fault in the relationship itself but because of how it is used to shield her from her troubles. She presents herself as a woman with strong determination; determination to love her husband as well as she can, determination to live on despite her “old griefs”, and determination to live according to standards which she sets for herself.
Original mark: 18/20

Analysis on ‘Amends’

Amends – by Adrienne Rich

Author:

  • A feminist
  • Amends shows how she believed that women went unnoticed (night, sleeping people) and that women are left to make amends for other people’s actions

Poem:

  • Amends definition =
    • to compensate or make up for a wrong doing
    • moon making amends for faults in the world/environment
    • 1ststanza =
      • “nights like this” = from Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice opening lines Act 5
        • helps set the scene
        • automatically links poem with moon

The moon shines bright: in such a night as this,

When the sweet wind did gently kiss the trees,

And they did make no noise, in such a night,

Troilus methinks mounted the Troyan walls,

And sigh’d his soul toward the Grecian tents,

Where Cressid lay that night.

  • “cold” =
    • cold atmosphere
    • suggests that it is at night-time
    • harsh word
  • “white star” =
    • further suggests night-time
    • either apple blossoms of tree falling/moonlight reflections
  • “then another” =
    • Repeatedly happening
    • Multitude of either blossoms or moonlight beams
  • “exploding” =
    • Violent
    • Incongruous to the rest of the poem
    • Harsh word
    • Interrupts stanza’s silence
  • “moonlight picking” =
    • 1st proper mention of moonlight
    • Personifies moon = has human qualities
    • Reflecting off some stones more than others
  • “small stones” =
    • Poem starts off at a small level, small range of view
  • Use of colons =
    • Lists/itemises the progression from sky to tree to ground
  • Mood =
    • Busy = moonlight “picking”, “exploding”
  • No rhyming
  • 2ndstanza =
    • “greater stones” =
      • Broader range of view
      • ‘zoomed out’
  • “rises with surf” =
    • Reflection in water
    • Transparent effect
    • Seems to be bobbing up and down with the waves
  • “laying its cheek” =
    • Relaxing
    • Appeals to sense of touch
    • Strongly links moonlight with femininity = nurturing, loving, caring
  • “moments” =
    • longer amount of time than picking
    • Light reflecting on sand more than on stones
  • “sand” =
    • Links with relaxation (beaches = relaxing places)
  • “licks” =
    • Semi-appeal to taste
    • Personifies moonlight as being a caring, feminine, motherly figure (animals lick other animals if they are hurt/young)
  • “broken” =
    • Confirms moonlight’s caring nature = licking it better
    • Shows that moonlight = trying to repair the damages (make amends)
  • “flows up the cliffs” =
    • Flows like water = links back to the surf
    • Lots of reflection on the cliffs
    • Cliffs common near beaches
    • Uncontrolled (liquids take shape of container), yet relaxed (no use of violent language e.g. “exploding” form stanza 1
  • “flicks” =
    • Not much reflection on tracks
  • “tracks” =
    • Common near beaches as well
    • Commonly found in relaxing environments
  • “picks”, “licks”, “flicks” =
    • Rhyme
    • Give the sense that the moonlight is only lightly touching the environment
    • Further link to femininity
  • “it” =
    • Refers to moonlight
    • Makes the reader forget that it is moonlight = adds to personification
  • Mood & rhythm =
    • Relaxed
    • Calm

Stanza 3

‘as it unavailing pours into the gash’

Unavailing means pointless, possibly suggesting it is too weak, although there is a lot of light. Referencing to early feminism movements, with a lot of female support, but at first no power was available. Gash = wound created by humans.

‘of the sand-and-gravel quarry’

Quarry links back to gash = humans are destroying the environment

‘as it leans across the hangared fuselage’

It can lean across the fuselage as the light reflects off the metallic surface. Personification, further reference to women. Lack of balance (leaning as opposed to standing up freely). Light shines off man-made objects in a stunted way compared with how it shines off natural objects. Fuselage = the main body of the plane. Hangared = almost portrays the plane as sleeping/ in bed (links to the later mentioned “sleepers”).

‘of the crop dusting plane’

Good reflection, ability to identify specifically that it is a crop-dusting plane reveals that light is more useful or powerful as it seems, a contradiction to the pouring into the gash. Allusion to gaining force of feminism movement.

Stanza 4

‘as it soaks through cracks into the trailers’

Soaks suggest that the trailer is saturated in light. For it to saturate the trailer in light, it must be very bright and powerful – it is slowly gathering more energy. It is a liquid-like (water = links back to the water in stanza 2) motion, smooth, agile quiet, gentle. Very feminine. May symbolise that feminism is gaining more ground. Cracks = light enters anywhere possible; light cannot be destroyed = breaks through defences (e.g. walls) with ease. Trailers = poor people, suggests the human damage done to nature has also made humans worse off.

‘tremulous with sleep’

Tremulous describes their bodies and minds shaking and afraid. Direct contrast to the moon, whose light and movement is smooth and gentle. The whole place is asleep.

‘as it dwells upon the eyelids of the sleepers’

Dwelling is a gentle verb, the light can be easily imagined as slowly landing on the eyelids. The moonlight is protects the sleepers. Femininity portrayed through the light = women always looking out for others; caring, gentle. Poet also suggests that women do not get credit for this (“sleepers” don’t notice the light on their eyes)

‘as if to make amends’

The light sympathises with the sleepers, attempts to comfort them. No reference to feminism at all, suggesting that the well-being of mankind is more important than arguments over which sex is superior. “as if” = uncertain about the true motives behind the moons doings. First time the moon is described as being inanimate/not in control of itself.

8. Explore the ways in which Adrienne Rich conveys a sense of mood and atmosphere in the poem Amends

In the poem Amends, Adrienne Rich creates a cold, still, clear atmosphere in which the moon tries to compensate for something it has done in the past.

The atmosphere of Amends is influenced by the setting. Being set on “Nights like this” creates a cool, dark atmosphere contrasted all of a sudden with “white star(s)” “exploding out of the bark” in huge numbers, lighting up the sky. The atmosphere is also human free, with the poem mainly dealing with inanimate objects, which is contrasted through the poet personifying the moon.

“Nights like this”, alluded from Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice, clearly links the poem to the moon, as the line in which it is taken from discusses how very bright the moon was. This accentuates the clear sky in which the moon can shine so brightly.

A prevalent silence falls over the poem, emphasising the still atmosphere. This is suddenly juxtaposed with the stars “exploding”. This silence is predominantly due to the human free nature of the poem. This is because everyone is sleeping. Ironically, the moon comes out almost timidly, “picking at small stones”. In stanza 2 assonance adds to this silence through the repetition of the “-icks” sound in “picks”, “licks” and “flicks” which sound like whispers. The repetitive “f” sound in the words “surf”, “flows” and “cliffs” also adds to the whispers. The atmosphere is also very tranquil and flowing, created in stanza 2, as the moon “licks the broken ledge”, then “flows up the cliffs” and “flicks across the tracks”.

In the poem, stars explode in the sky, and, unlike the moon, appear boldly and bright white in the sky. White light is intense light. This intensity is emphasised by their “exploding out of the bark”. For the stars to shine so brightly the sky must be clear. A clear, cloudless sky accentuates the coldness as all the heat can escape the world. But then, a clear sky also means the weather is good and rainless.

Adrienne Rich creates a sad mood in her poem, implying that the moon has done something wrong to the world, but whatever it does to try to make up for this is obsolete as everyone is “tremulous with sleep”. The moon is also reminiscent that is can’t do more, because it “dwells upon the eyelids of the sleepers”. This sad mood is exemplified with the word “gash” which links to the wound which the moon has created on the earth. Rich evokes this sadness in the reader as everything the moon does is redundant because everyone is asleep, totally unaware and unappreciative.

By personifying and giving the moon human features and emotions, Rich easily conveys to the reader what the moon does on “nights like this”, and the dilemma it is in. It is also made clear that the moon has a close relationship with the sand because it lays “its cheek” on it.

Adrienne Rich touches on the destruction of nature by man in stanza 3 of “Amends”. This is more evidence of the mournful mood of the poem. The moon “pours into the gash” of the “sand and gravel quarry”. The moon is distraught at this gash made in the earth especially because it is a sand quarry, linking to it “laying its cheek on the sand” the stanza before. This relationship is emphasised as the moon “pours” its light into the quarry, showing the rush to get light into it as quickly as water pours over a waterfall. The moonlight is also likened to water when “it soaks through cracks into the trailers”.

Therefore, Adrienne Rich creates a still, cold, human free atmosphere; with a sad, regretful mood as the moon attempts to make amends.