CODeL ASSIGNMENT COVER 2018
APPROACHES TO POETRY ANALYSIS LEN 3631
Assignment no (e.g. 1, 2 or 3, etc.).
a) Elizabeth Barret Browning’s poem “How do I love thee” Is one of the greatest love poems in the world. As seen from the title to the last line of the poem, the poet speaks about the unconditional, extraordinary, and unstoppable love. Therefore, the theme of this poem is nothing other than love. In the poem “How do I Love Thee” Elizabeth Browning expresses the eternal nature of love and its power to overcome everything, including death. Line 1 serves as the poem’s introduction and in it the poet uses a simple question, “How do I Love Thee?” to capture the reader’s attention. The remainder of the poem serves as an answer whereby the poem’s speaker counts the ways she loves her object of love. The repetition of “I love thee” serves as a constant reminder, but it is the depth of love, not the quantity of love, that gives the poem its power: She loves. for example, “the depth and breadth and height / My soul can reach,” and “To the level of every day’s / Most quiet need.” The ultimate expression of her enduring love occurs in the last line which states that her love will be stronger “after death.” In this poem, Elizabeth talks about two different types of love. The first one is that of humans and the other one is that of God for his creation.
b) Diction is defined in literature as the distinctiveness of speech, the art of speaking so that each word is clearly heard and understood to its fullest complexity and extremity, and it concerns pronunciation and tone, rather than word choice and style. In addition, Poetic diction can also mean linguistic style, Vocabulary and metaphors used in poetry. The poem “How do I love thee” by Elizabeth Barret Browning uses a romantic diction to communicate with the audience. This sonnet helped kick-start many more on the theme of modern (Victorian) love, from a woman’s perspective. Note the emphasis is on the repetition and reinforcement of the speaker’s love for someone; there is no mention of a specific name or gender, giving the sonnet a universal appeal.
The first line is unusual because it is a question asked in an almost conversational manner – the poet has challenged herself to compile reasons for her love, to define her intense feelings, the ways in which her love can be expressed.
There then follows a repetitive variation on a theme of love. To me this conjures up an image of a woman counting on her fingers, then compiling a list, which would be a very modern, 21st century thing for a female to do.
This poem comes from another era however, a time when most women were expected to stay at home looking after all things domestic, not writing poems about love.
The second, third and fourth lines suggest that her love is all encompassing, stretching to the limits, even when she feels that her existence – Being – and God’s divine help – Grace – might end, it’s the love she has for her husband Robert that will sustain.
Note the contrast between the attempt to measure her love with rational language – depth, breadth, height – and the use of the words Soul, Being and Grace, which imply something intangible and spiritual.
Her love goes beyond natural life and man-made theology. These are weighty concepts – the reader is made aware that this is no ordinary love early on in the sonnet. The clause, lines 2-4, contains enjambment, a continuation of theme from one line to the next.
Is she suggesting that the simple notion of love for a person can soon flow into something quite profound, yet out of reach of everyday language and speech?
The speaker, the poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning continues with her passionate need to differentiate the many ways her love for her husband manifests. In line five she clearly tells the reader that, be it day or night, her love fills those quiet moments, those daily silences that occur between two people living together.
Her love is unconditional and therefore free; it is a force for good, consciously given because it feels like the right thing to do. She doesn’t want any thanks for this freely given love; it is a humble kind of love, untainted by the ego.
Lines 9-14, the speaker looks to the past and compares her new found passions with those of the old griefs. Elizabeth Barrett Browning had plenty of negativity in her adult life – she was mostly ill and lived like a recluse, seeing only old family friends and family. Her father oppressed her and wouldn’t allow her to marry. There were no romantic relationships in her life by all accounts. She must have been driven to the point of willing herself dead. Little wonder that when Robert Browning came along she was given a new lease of life.
In contrast her childhood had been a happy one and it’s this she refers to in the second half of line ten. A child’s faith is pure and innocent and sees fresh opportunity in everything.
Turning to religious feelings in line eleven, the speaker refers to a lost love she once had for the saints – perhaps those of the Christian church, of conventional religion. Or could she be looking back at the saintly people in her life.
She suggests that this love has now returned and will be given to her husband. In fact, so stirred up is she with these innermost feelings she goes on to say in line twelve, with just a dash to separate – this returned love is her very breath. Not only that, but the good and the bad times she’s had, is having, will have – this is what the love she has is like. It is all enveloping.
And, in the final line, if God grants it, she will carry on loving her husband even more after she dies. Thus, her love will go on and on, beyond the grave, gaining strength, transcendent.
C) Poetic form refers to a poem’s physical structure; basically, what the poem looks like and how it sounds. Elements like the poem’s type, stanza structure, line lengths, rhyme scheme, and rhythm express its form. Together, content and form make meaning, which is the message the poet gives to the reader. This Petrarchan sonnet has fourteen lines, the first eight being the octet and the final six the sestet. At the end of the octet comes what is known as the turn, more or less a subtle change in the relationship between the two parts.
In this sonnet the octet is basically a list set in the present that reflects a very deep love; the sestet looks back in time and then forward to a transcendent love, which helps put the whole work into perspective.
The rhyme scheme is traditional -abbaabbacdcdcd – and the end rhymes are mostly full except for: ways/Grace and use/loose/choose. The full rhymes bring closure and help bind the lines together. Iambic pentameter is dominant, that is, there are ten beats and five feet/stresses/beats to most lines, for example: “I love thee to the depth and breadth and height/My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight”
In Line 1: The speaker begins by posing a question that the entire sonnet will go on to answer: “How do I love thee?” It’s interesting that the interrogative word here is “how,” rather than “why” or “when.” This is not really a rhetorical question, because the speaker does answer it, but it operates in a similar way to rhetorical questions because it introduces the poem and gets the reader thinking.
Lines 2-4: The speaker uses a spatial metaphor to describe the extent of her love, comparing her soul to a physical, three-dimensional object in the world. These three lines also introduce a lot of sound play into the sonnet. In line two, three words have a “th” sound, and a fourth word (“height”) comes close. These breathy syllables soften the line, making it more difficult to fit it into a traditional iambic pentameter rhythm. In fact, throughout the poem there’s an excess of “th” sounds, some of them voiced (like the “th” in “thee”) and some of them unvoiced (like the “th” in “depth”). It might be interesting to think about how the two different kinds of “th” sounds fall into patterns in the poem.
In lines three and four, the poet uses assonance, repeating long “e” vowel sounds in words like “reach,” “feeling,” “Being,” and “ideal.” This repeated long vowel sound adds a brighter, livelier quality to the poem. It also reminds us of what the speaker calls the beloved – “thee.”
There’s also an internal rhyme between the word “feeling” in the middle of line three and the word “Being” in the middle of line four. This extra rhyme, along with the rhymes at the ends of the lines, ties the poem together more tightly.
Lines 5-6: These are some of the only lines in this poem that use concrete imagery – “sun and candle-light” – and even then, it’s only images of different kinds of light, not necessarily definite objects. Even more so than other poems, this is an extremely abstract, vague lyric that seems to take place out of this world.
Lines 7-9: These lines use anaphora, beginning with the same phrase, “I love thee,” as do lines two, five, and eleven. This parallel structure emphasizes that the poem is in many ways a catalog or list of ways of loving, rather than an extended argument or scene like some other poems.
Lines 12-14: We can’t help but think that claiming you’re going to love someone “better after death,” whether it’s your death or their own, is something of a hyperbole.
Author: David DiopReviewer: Chatambula Puteho
David Mandessia Diop, a Senegalese poet, uses his poem entitled “Africa”, to lament the state of the African continent and valorise it despite its long-suffering experiences with colonialism and neo-colonialism. Following in the footsteps of the well-known African writer and former president of Senegal in his first twenty years (Léopold Sédar Senghor), Diop utilizes the trope of Africa as woman. This poetic male tradition is upheld through allegorical means where Africa is conceptualized as a mother to the Black populace born from her landscaped body. Although the Mother Africa trope has its shortcomings, Diop’s poetic vision comes through by communicate the plight of the colonized/postcolonial continent through the skilful use of language and structure. His metaphorical body of work offers a depth of meaning and concludes with a message of hope, reminding Africans that they can rise above the colonial system. In the first lines of the poem, Africa is portrayed as a complex and pretty hot woman, who is eternal and eternally beautiful.Things take a turn for the worse in Stanza 2 whereby the poet talks about Africa been invaded by brigands that stole men and women to enslave them. The poet further points out that in this era there was lots of killing and the black man was forced to abandon his religious practice to accept that of Christianity. To move on, in stanza 3 is where the poet indicates that Africa was becoming clever and she started to rise against the colonial government in fight of freedom from all colonial dominance.
Imagery- “The trembling back striped and redThat says yes to the sjambok on the roads of noon? ‘Impetuous child, that young and strong tree, that tree that grows”. In these lines the persona gives the reader a sensory imagery, as one can picture a black man standing cloth less been whipped by the colonisers during the day.
Tone- There are several tones used in the poem of Africa, by David Diop. The first is PROUD. The tone used is proud because the persona of the poem has been calling out the name of his motherland. He called it several times to give emphasis to the word and he even
claimed it using the word “my” even though he never been there and only heard about
it from the song of his grandmother. He described it as the land of proud warriors of ancestral savannahs. Second, the persona is GRIEVEING, because of what happened to his motherland E.g. the enslavement, and torture which mother Africa faced during colonialism. Lastly, the third tone used in the poem HOPEFUL. The persona is hopeful that one day Africa will be free from all colonial dominance.
Title: Dream of africaAuthor: Jonathan KariaraCommentary by C. Puteho
Jonathan Kariara was a Kenyan poet who was born in 1935 and died in 1993. Jonathan wrote many poems that includes “The dream of Africa”.
The poem “The dream of Africa “by Jonathan Kariara is one of the poems that speaks about colonialism in Africa. Jonathan speaks about the arrival of the colonialists in Africa, and he speaks of the tactics the colonialist used to infiltrate the black population, which is through European education system. The colonialists came with their cultures and customs, while Africa on the other hand had its on-education system, culture and custom. Since the arrival of the colonial education, black African were encouraged to live like their colonisers, they were taught reading and writing. This led to the abandonment of the black education system which was based on informal education and cultural practices. In this poem, the poet uses connotative language and other linguistic devices to try to help the reader understand the message of the poem. The poet compares European education system to a doctor that only prescribes medications to the sick, whereby the sick has no full knowledge of the effects that kind of medication may cause in their bodies after using them to cure the disease. The poe believes that European education was brought in Africa to come divide people economically, politically and educationally, as it is the case in today’s Africa where the educated exploits the uneducated, the politicians exploiting the citizens, etc.
I am of an understanding that the poet’s message is one that aims at awakening the African population from their slumber. He points out all the bad effects brought by the foreign education system, so that the African people may be alerted. The whites forcefully imposed their education on the black population as the poet points out that black people were not in need of this education, but the white people insisted that they had to educate black people, whether they liked it or not. Until, eventually the lazy black person accepted the offer and then he was given books that merely drove him crazy with lot of confusion about what he read in books and what he was taught by his black community.
Jonathan been born in the colonial times he saw the whole process of colonialism happening and he could even anticipate the end results which is the abandonment of African culture, lifestyle and customs.
However, it must be argued that Jonathan’s view on the effects of colonial education on the African people was just negative which make this poem less objective.
Diction- Diction is defined in literature as the distinctiveness of speech, the art of speaking so that each word is clearly heard and understood to its fullest complexity and extremity, and it concerns pronunciation and tone, rather than word choice and style. In addition, Poetic diction can also mean linguistic style, Vocabulary and metaphors used in poetry.
The poem “The dream of Africa” by Jonathan Kariara uses an informal diction. This is seen in how the write structured his poem, and how he writes. For example, there are irregular lines within his poem and the stanzas are not well structured. He uses colloquial language in his writing which may mean he never had much time to choose the more sited words and style of writing. The poem is structured in stanzas and the poets uses enjambment very much.
Imagery- the poet uses sensory imagery in line 1 of the poem “I lay the other night and dreamt that we were all being glazed”. This line gives a sensory image to the reader, as the poet tries to picture the black man been invaded through education. The poet continues using connotative language to fit in meaning of his writing.
The tone in this poem is serious as the poet tries to warn and urge black Africans to be red for colonialism and to fight for the freedom of the growing African population. The poet uses alliteration to remind the reader of what he been talking about.