Tag: POETRY

‘My Parents’ Poetry Questions

  1. Who do you think the ‘rough boys’ were?
  2. Which of the activities of the rough children do you think Stephen envied?
  3. Which of the activities hurt him:
    1. Physically
    2. Emotionally
  4. What clues can you find in the poem that suggest that the rough children were healthy?
  5. What you understand by “ourworld” in line 11. Briefly state how it would differ from the world of the rough boys.
  6. What hint is there of the author’s religious upbringing?
  7. Why did it fail him in practice?
  8. Do you think his parents were right in their attitude to the rough children? Give reasons for your answer.
  9. What do you think is meant by:
    1. Threw like words like stones
    2. Stripped by country streams
    3. Salt coarse pointing
  10. What word in verse 3 suggests that the author’s real feelings were being controlled?
  11. Suggest a title for the poem that sums up its theme.

 

It is the Constant Image of your Face -Dennis Brutus

SUMMARY

The persona reflects on the image of someone he cares for. This love interest accused him, with their eyes, of breaking their heart. The persona admits that both of them (he and the love interest) can make no excuses for his behaviour because the love interest does not take precedence over his land, or country. Despite this fact, the persona begs for mercy, pleading guilty for being seduced by his love interest’s beauty. This person protects him dearly and he admits that, as a result of this, he has committed treason against his country. He hopes that his country, his other dearest love, will pardon him because he loves both his country and his love interest.

LITERARY DEVICES

  1. PERSONIFICATION

Lines 4, 6-7: The love interest’s eyes constantly accuses and convicts the persona. This device highlights the extent to which the persona has hurt this person.

Lines 18-20: The persona hopes that his country, his other dearest love, will forgive him for the treasonous act of loving another. This highlights the patriotism that defines the persona’s relationship to his country.

  1. OXYMORON

The term heart’s-treachery implies that the heart, something so vital and indicative of love, has committed a terrible crime. It highlights the heartbreak that the persona has caused his love interest.

IMPORTANT WORD/ PHRASES

  1. ‘constant image’

This implies that the persona constantly, or always, remembers his love interest’s face. It emphasizes the guilt he feels in relation to this person.

  1. ‘grave attention’

The love interest’s eyes display grave attention. The word grave implies intensely serious, so this person is truly hurt.

  1. ‘world of knives’

A knife inflicts pain and destroys. The persona, therefore, is identifying his world with causing pain.

  1. ‘such blackmail with your beauty’

To blackmail someone is to have something over them that puts their will in your control. The love interest’s beauty has captivated the persona in such a way that he betrays his country with this person.

MOOD/ ATMOSPHERE

The mood of the poem is reflective. The persona is thinking about his two loves and how he is torn between them.

TONE: The tone of the poem is sadness and guilt. The persona is guilt ridden over this love triangle and sadness permeates the words that he uses to describe it.

THEMATIC CATEGORY: Love, guilt, patriotism, places, desires/ dreams

This is the Dark Time, My Love -Martin Carter

The persona speaks to someone that he cares for. He tells this person that this is the dark time, which is, in essence, a time of sadness. It is implied, by certain key terms; such as ‘dark metal’, that it is a time of war. The persona warns his ‘love’ that it is a dark, sad time.

LITERARY DEVICES

1. REPETITION
Stanza 1, line 1 & stanza 2, line 7: The repetition of this phrase highlights that there is something seriously amiss. The persona is telling his ‘love’ that this is a sad and terrible time.

2. ALLITERATION
This device literally draws the reader’s’ visual attention to the sentence. The sentence implies that everything that is good and positive is hidden away, or gone. This alliteration sets a sad tone at the very beginning of this poem.

3. PERSONIFICATION
This device emphasizes the sad tone of the poem. This is the case because flowers are usually associated with feelings of happiness and cheerfulness. Therefore, if the flowers – ambassadors of joy –  are sad, then it highlights how really sad the times have become.

4. METAPHOR
The contrast in this device is startling. The terms ‘festival’ and ‘carnival’ not only describes fun and festivity, but also a large amount of each. Both words are associated with huge crowds. This emphasizes how terrible the times have become because guns and misery are plentiful.

5. RHETORICAL QUESTION

Stanza 3, line 13: This device informs the reader/ audience that a threat exists and that it comes in the dark of night.

Stanza 3, lines 14 – 15: It is implied that the threat is a soldier through the term ‘boot of steel’. The ‘slender grass’ is the innocent youth who is cut down and trampled by these ‘boots of steel’. The fact that we are given this information through the use of rhetorical question adds mystery and intrigue to the poem.

IMPORTANT WORDS/ PHRASES

6.‘All round the land brown beetles crawl about.’
Some variety of brown beetles are scavengers that feed on decaying or dead carcasses. Therefore, when the persona states that they crawl about, it implies that a lot of dead or decaying bodies exist in the land.

7.‘season of oppression, dark metal, and tears.’
A season is an extended period of time. Therefore, the persona is telling his ‘love’ that it is a period of extreme sadness. This sadness is brought about by the ‘dark metal’, which can be literally interpreted as vehicles of war.

8.‘man of death’ 
The man of death, in this context, is the soldier.

9.‘Watching you sleep’
Sleep is a state of extreme vulnerability. This is the case because when one falls asleep, they fall into unconsciousness, which equates to a state of defenselessness. The fact that the man of death, ie soldier, watches the persona’s ‘love’ while he/she sleeps, implies that this person is not only vulnerable, but in extreme danger.

10.‘aiming at your dream.’
The man of death’s purpose is to destroy the persona’s ‘love’s’ dreams, or desires.

MOOD/ ATMOSPHERE 
The mood of the poem is a sad one. The persona is giving his ‘love’ sad and depressing news.

TONE–The tone of the poem is also a sad one.

THEMES
Racism, War, Oppression, Dreams and Aspirations, places.

‘Dulce Et Decorum Est’ by Wilford Owen

SUMMARY

Wilfred Owen, the poet, tells of his first hand experience in war. He tells the tale of tired and wounded soldiers walking through dirt and sludge. Suddenly, there is a warning about gas, which the soldiers hurriedly and awkwardly heed by donning their helmets. Unfortunately, one soldier is too late in donning the helmet and his companions watch him ‘drowning’ in the gas. The unfortunate soldier was thrown in the back of a wagon, where it is implied that he was left to die. The persona points out that if you (the reader/ listener) could have witnessed these events, then you would not tell children the old lie: dulce et decorum est pro patria mori (It is sweet and honourable to die for one’s country).

LITERARY DEVICES

1.SIMILE

Stanza 1, line 1: This simile introduces the exhaustion of the soldiers. Stanza 1, line 2: This emphasizes not only the tiredness of the soldiers, but the fact that they might be sick as well.

Stanza 2, line 19: This device gives a visual image of how the soldier physically reacted to the gas. Floundering implies flopping about, therefore, the soldier was flopping about violently. We know it was violent because fire and lime illicit excruciating pain.

Stanza 4, line 39: This device gives a visual image of the expression on the soldier’s face. This is a particularly grotesque image that highlights the soldier in the throes of death.

Stanza 4, line 39: Cancer is a horrible disease that takes many lives on a daily basis. Therefore, to compare this dying soldiers face to this disease is to emphasize the agony that the soldier was going through, which was reflected on his face.

Stanza 4, lines 39-40: This is another graphic comparison that compares the soldier’s face to incurable sores. ‘Sores’ is a disgusting visual image of degradation which, in turn, highlights the soldier in the throes of death.

ALLITERATION
Stanza 1, line 7: This device points to the level of fatigue that the soldiers were undergoing. Stanza 1, lines 7-9: This highlights not only the fatigue that the soldiers were feeling, but the fact that they were injured as well. Stanza 4, lines 29-30: This device highlights a visually graphic death mask. The soldier is in the throes of impending death.

IMPORTANT WORDS/ PHRASES
3.‘Bent double’
The soldiers are bent over with fatigue. It is very significant that the poet/ persona initiates the poem by highlighting the exhaustion of the soldiers. He is trying to emphasize the harsh realities of war.

4.‘haunting flares’
Flares are typically used to signal distress. The flare is fired from a flare gun, in the air, where rescue crafts, at sea or in the air, can have a general idea of the location of the soldiers who are in distress. Therefore, to describe the flares as haunting implies that the soldiers are severely distressed by their situation.

5.’deaf even to the hoots of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.’
Five-nines are German 5.9 artillery shells. This means that bullets were firing around them while they were walking. The extent of the soldiers’ tiredness is also emphasized at this point because the soldiers do not hear the shells going off around them.

6.‘An ecstasy of fumbling’
The word ecstasy, that is used to describe the fumbling, implies the level of panic that this one word (gas) elicits. The soldiers’ were so tired that they could not even hear the five nines, but this one word immediately wakes them up.

7.‘Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light, as under a green sea, I saw him drowning.’
This describes exactly what the outside world looks like through the lens of a gas mask. The effect of the gas is seen in the mention of the word ‘drown’. It implies that the unfortunate soldier could not breathe.

8.‘He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.’
This is the very graphic result of breathing in the gas. It is a very violent reaction, as seen in the word ‘plunge’. The dying soldier did not simply reach for the persona/poet, but he did so in a desperate manner, while all the time being unable to breathe.

9.‘wagon that we flung him in’ 
The statement implies that the soldier was left for dead in a wagon. No regard was shown to him, through the use of the word ‘flung’. This implies that war is heartless and tragic.

10.’Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori.’ 
This statement literally means it is sweet and honourable to die for one’s country. The persona/ poet clearly does NOT believe this to be the case. 

 

MOOD/ ATMOSPHERE
The mood of the poem is reflective. The persona/ poet is thinking about his experiences in WW1.

TONE
The general tone of the poem is both sarcastic and ironic. The persona/ poet tries to present a visual of the realities of war while using the haunting words that contradict that reality. It is, in fact, NOT sweet and honourable to die for one’s country.

THEMATIC CATEGORIZATION
War, death, survival,  patriotism

Le Loupgarou by Derek Walcott

This poem tells the tale of old LeBrun, a man that was rumoured by the townspeople to be a loupgarou. Old women would relax under eaves and gossip about Le Brun, while literally shutting him out of their lives with their closing windows. The prevailing gossip, in this poem, is that he transformed into a hound one night, but was dealt a wound by his own watchman. He then lugged his entrails back to his doorstep, almost dead.

LITERARY DEVICES

1. ALLITERATION 

•Lines 1-3: This alliteration gives the reader a visual imagery of the manner in which the gossip about Le Brun spread. A thread is thin and fine and can weave itself in any crevice, sometimes in a very non-linear and sinuous manner. This describes the way in which the gossip spread. It managed to touch the whole village in an almost insidious, and complete, manner. •Line 5: This literary device speaks to the results of the gossip. Le Brun is alienated from the people of the town. Their fascination with him, however, is evident by the fact that they slowly shut their jalousie/windows. The lack of speed implies that they are watching him, while also alienating him. •Lines 17-21: This alliteration highlights the severity of the loupgarou’s injuries. You can almost see and hear the wetness of the blood, as well as see the entrails trailing wet through the use of this device.

2. ONOMATOPOEIA

The tap-tapping cane is a part of Le Brun’s physical description. He appears to stand out, in terms of his physical appearance, down to the use of his cane.

3. PARADOX

This statement appears nonsensical at first, but actually makes sense in the long run. The loupgarou is, in fact, a man who is leading a half life as man and beast, so he is not really ‘living’. The fact that he can pass on the ‘gift’ of becoming a werewolf clarifies the fact that Le Brun is actually ‘licensed to sell sick fruit’, or pass on his sick ‘gift’.

4. OXYMORON

The words ‘Christian’ and ‘witches’, placed together, emphasizes the dual nature of the women in the village. They are good Christian women who mean no harm, but their fear of the ‘difference’ that they sense in Le Brun (contributed by his mode of dress), leads them to react in an unchristian manner, like witches, in dealing with him.

* IRONY-It is ironic that Le Brun’s own watchman dealt him a lethal blow.

 

IMPORTANT WORDS/ PHRASES

5.curious 

This word emphasizes the strangeness of the story that is circulated about Le Brun.

6.white linen-linen suit, pink glasses, cork hat (and cane)

This outfit would let anyone be seen in a crowd, or other wise. It emphasizes Le Brun’s difference , hence, one of the reasons that he would be the focus of gossip. Imagine an individual dressed in the combination below:

7.Alsatian hound, a slathering lycanthrope 

This description of Le Brun displays the distaste that is felt towards him in his animal form.

MOOD/ ATMOSPHERE

The mood of the poem is reflective.

TONE

The tone of the poem is calm and reflective. The persona appears to be simply recounting a piece of gossip.

THEME

Supernatural

Dreaming Black Boy – James Berry

SUMMARY

The poem is about a black boy who wishes that he could have regular things in life. Things such as a congratulatory hug, to be educated to the highest level and to travel without harassment. The persona yearns to stop fighting for the basic right to be successful and to rise above societal expectations.

LITERARY DEVICES

1. REPETITION:

The constant repetition of the phrase ‘I wish’ points to a yearning, a desperation even, for the basic things that life has to offer. The repetition gives credence to the idea that the persona might believe that his wishes are actually dreams that might not come true.

2. ALLUSION:

Stanza 1, lines 6 and 7, alludes to slavery, the state of lacking control over one’s own life and destiny. The fact that reference is made to this hints to how the persona feels about his life. He does not feel as if he has control over it.

Stanza 3, lines 19 to 20, alludes to Paul Robeson, a black intellectual, who attained success despite difficult circumstances. The persona yearns to be like this person. He wants room to stretch intellectually.

Stanza 4, lines 22 to 25, alludes to the klu klux klan. Burning lights refers to the burning of crosses and the pyjamas alludes to their white outfits that look like pyjamas. The persona wants them to leave him alone, find something else to do other than make his life difficult by contributing to his wishes remaining in the realm of  the dreams. 

IMPORTANT WORDS / PHRASE

3.’not sink to lick boots’

This refers to the concept of being subservient.  To have no choice but to kowtow to people in order to get ahead.

4. ‘Inside eye a sun’

This refers to the persona’s mind. He wants to show how intelligent he is without fear. He wants his mind to be a sun. Sun represents brightness and light, that is how he wants his intelligence to shine.

TONE

The tone/mood of the poem is one of sadness. The persona is thinking about how he is treated and he reacts to this in a sad way. He keeps wishing that things were different.

THEMATIC CATEGORY:

  • Racism,
  • survival,
  • oppression,
  • desire/dreams.
  • childhood experiences