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Introduction to Poetry Analysis


Introduction to Poetry Analysis Using the rhetorical analysis toolbox: FORM, STYLE, DEVICES EXAMPLE 1 Poetry Explication Project Honors English Wystan Hugh Auden ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Introduction to Poetry Analysis

Introduction to Poetry Analysis
  • Using the rhetorical analysis toolbox FORM,

  • Poetry Explication Project
  • Honors English

Wystan Hugh Auden (1907-1973)
W.H. Auden Life and Works
  • Born in York, England
  • As a young man, influenced by the poetry of
    Thomas Hardy, Robert Frost, William Blake, and
    Emily Dickinson, and Old English verse.
  • Auden was established as a leading voice of a new
  • A well-read author, he had a remarkable intellect
    and drew easily from a variety of literatures,
  • He often mimicked the style of Dickinson, Yeats,
    and Henry James.
  • His poetry frequently recounts a journey or quest

W.H. Auden Context
  • Visited many countries and served in the Spanish
    Civil War
  • In 1939 moved to the U.S. where he married his
    lover, Chester Kallman, and became an American
  • He was an ardent advocate of Freudian
  • In his later phase in America, his central
    preoccupation became Christianity and theory of
    modern religions

Funeral Blues Stop all the clocks, cut off the
telephone. Prevent the dog from barking with a
juicy bone, Silence the pianos and with muffled
drum Bring out the coffin, let the mourners
come. Let aeroplanes circle moaning
overhead 5 Scribbling in the sky the message He
is Dead, Put crêpe bows round the white necks of
the public doves, Let the traffic policemen wear
black cotton gloves. He was my North, my South,
my East and West, My working week and my Sunday
rest 10 My noon, my midnight, my talk, my
song I thought that love would last forever, I
was wrong. The stars are not wanted now put out
every one, Pack up the moon and dismantle the
sun. Pour away the ocean and sweep up the
wood 15 For nothing now can ever come to any
good. --W.H. Auden
Funeral Blues Form
  • The poem Funeral Blues is an elegy a mournful,
    melancholic poem often spoken at a funeral for
    the dead
  • Four stanzas, 16 lines
  • The first three stanzas include elements of
    everyday life, while the last stanza includes
    elements of the spirit or celestial world,
    indicating a passing of the spirit from the real
    world to spirit world.
  • Rhyme scheme AABB, etc.
  • The rhyme scheme holds the poem together, almost
    as it holds together the speaker

Funeral Blues Speaker and POV
  • Written in first person POV speaker uses I and
  • The speaker of the poem has lost a love and
    expresses his grief in a unique way
  • Through an elegy, the speaker expresses that he
    wants others to feel his pain silence the world
  • He also realizes that things that were once
    pleasurable are no longer that way
  • When things are wrong in nature, they are wrong
  • The speaker may be homosexualrefers to the
    deceased as he, and if we assume Auden is the
    speaker, he is a man as well

Funeral Blues Style
  • TONE
  • The tone of the first two stanzas is direct and
    forceful the speaker uses the imperative mode
    stop all the clocks. He commands that people
    pay attention to the deceased pay respects
  • The tone in the third stanza is nostalgic he was
    my working week and my Sunday rest as the
    speaker remembers what it was like when the
    deceased was alive
  • The tone of the final stanza is forceful and
    irrational the speaker requests outlandish tasks
    to be performed
  • The tone of the final stanza is also melancholic
    and cynical nothing now can ever come to any

Funeral Blues Style
  • The word choice in the first stanza includes
    words related to sounds because the speaker hopes
    to silence the world clock, telephone, dog
    barking, muffled drum
  • The word choice in the second stanza all relate
    to a public acknowledgement of the deceased
    aeroplanes circle moaning, message in the sky,
    public doves, policemen
  • The word choice in the third stanza includes
    words related to prosaic, mundane events we take
    for granted working week, Sunday rest, almost
    as if the speaker took the deceased for granted
  • The word choice in the final stanza includes
    words related to the spirit and celestial world
    sun, moon, stars

Funeral Blues Style
  • Blues music melancholic and depressing
  • Clocks time, death approaching the speaker
    hopes it will stand still by stopping the clocks
  • Telephone communication lost?
  • Muffled drum a low sound as a heart
  • Coffin death or the body of the deceased loved
  • White doves peace
  • Black gloves death
  • North, South, East, West direction did the
    deceased give speaker direction? he was his world
  • Stars, moon, sun heaven or spirit world
  • Wood and ocean the natural world

Funeral Blues Style
  • The speaker uses the imperative mode in stanzas
    1,2 and 4, commanding the reader and the world to
    stop and pay respects
  • In stanza three, the speaker uses the indicative
    mode, expressing thoughts and reflectingno
    longer commanding, as if he takes a break to muse
  • The use of listing indicates that the deceased
    was the speakers everything all encompassing
  • He is capitalized, just as the word God,
    indicating the deceased was like a God for the
  • Dead is also capitalized, emphasizing the
    finality of death
  • I thought that my love would last forever I was
  • The use of the colon after forever is dramatic
    and brings our attention to the idea that when we
    die, love dies

Funeral Blues Style
  • The speaker uses sound imagery in the first
    stanza he demands the world be silenced prevent
    the dog from barking. He also commands the
    coffin be brought out with muffled drum
  • Almost as if the speaker is on a crowded street
    and feels overwhelmed that the world does not
    share his feelings of grief the world goes on
  • The speaker uses more visual imagery in the
    second stanza with colors black and white
  • The last stanza causes the reader to imagine a
    spirit travelling to heaven or some place other
    than earth

Funeral Blues Device 1
  • Metaphor
  • He was my North, my South, my East, my West
  • The deceased was the speakers world, his
    direction, his everything
  • Scribbling in the sky
  • The sky is a message board for announcing the
  • He was myworking week and my Sunday rest
  • Speaker indicates that deceased was all
    encompassing, showing how impactful the death was
    on the speaker, affecting his everyday life

Funeral Blues Device 2
  • Hyperbole
  • The stars are not wanted now put out every one
  • pack up the moon
  • dismantle the sun
  • pour away the ocean
  • sweep up the wood
  • The exaggeration of outlandish tasks indicates
    the depths of the speakers grief none of the
    irrational actions can be fulfilled, just like
    life is no longer fulfilling for the speaker

Funeral Blues Device 3
  • Assonance
  • Repetition of vowel sounds
  • Bring out the coffin
  • let the mourners come
  • moaning overhead
  • The repetition of the vowel sounds doesnt give
    the same effect as alliteration or consonance
    its a subtle effect
  • O sounds often have a ghostly, haunting, or
    eerie connotation

Funeral Blues Device 4
  • synecdoche
  • Using parts to represent a whole
  • all hands on deck all people
  • sweep up the wood
  • Wood the whole forest
  • When the speaker implies that the whole forest
    should be cleared, it is irrational and
    impossible, again indicating the speaker is

Funeral Blues Theme
  • Love and Nature Dont Endure
  • The speaker indicates that since the love is
    lost, so is the world
  • I thought that love would last forever I was
  • Nothing now can come to any good

Test Questions
  • Five test questions, which will be included on a
    final poetry test over all poems presented by
  • Questions may be multiple choice, T/F, or short

1. Funeral Blues is BEST classified as a (n)
a. sonnet b. ode c. elegy d. ballad e.
dramatic monologue 2. Which of the following is
a plausible interpretation of the poems title?
I. A reference to the depression that the
speaker feels over his friends untimely
death II. A reference to music that typically
characterizes a funeral service III.
A reference to the poem itself a. I only b. II
only c. I and II d. I and III e. I, II, and
III 3. The death of his friend prompts the
speaker to demand all of the following EXCEPT
a. the muting or elimination of all sounds b.
an opportunity for solitary mourning c. a public
acknowledgement of the deceaseds passing d. an
extinguishing of celestial objects e. a
forfeiture of nature
4. The mournful nature of the occasion is aurally
reinforced by the a. ticking of the clocks b.
ringing of the telephone c. baying of the
dog d. music from a piano e. droning of the
aeroplanes 5. The third stanza differs MOST
from the other stanzas in a. subject b.
tone c. perspective d. rhyme e. figurative
6. Of the following, which BEST describes the
nature of the contrast between the first the
fourth stanzas? a. activity and inertia b.
sound to light c. temporal to cosmic d.
mourning to celebration e. secular to spiritual
7. The word which best describes the speakers
feelings for his now-dead friend would be a.
platonic b. collegial c. fraternal d.
distant e. reverential 8. All of the following
are used as metaphors in the poem EXCEPT a. a
musical instrument b. a pad or billboard c. a
compass d. a time of day e. a candle
  • Poetry Explication Project
  • Honors English

Seamus Heaney (SHAY-muhs HEE-nee)
  • April 1939- present

Seamus Heaney Life
  • Father owned and worked on a farm in Northern
    Irelandrural lifestyle is where much of his
    poetry is grounded
  • Raised Catholic
  • Parents died an early death
  • Claims to have an inner tension inherited from
    his parents between speech and silence
  • His father was notably sparing of talk, his
    mother notably garrulous
  • Won Nobel Peace Prize in Literature in 1995 and
    taught at Harvard
  • Translated the epic Anglo-Saxon poem Beowulf
  • http//

Seamus Heaney Historical Context
  • Witnessed American soldiers prep for Normandy
    invasion of 1944
  • Subject matter includes that of modern Northern
    Ireland, its farms and cities beset with civil
    strife, its natural culture and language overrun
    by English rule.
  • Used his work to reflect upon violent political
    struggles that plagued Ireland
  • http//

Blackberry-Picking by Seamus Heaney Late
August, given heavy rain and sun for a full week,
the blackberries would ripen. At first, just one,
a glossy purple clot among others, red, green,
hard as a knot. You ate that first one and its
flesh was sweet 5 like thickened wine
summer's blood was in it leaving stains upon the
tongue and lust for picking. Then red ones inked
up and that hunger sent us out with milk-cans,
pea-tins, jam-pots where briars scratched and wet
grass bleached our boots. 10 Round hayfields,
cornfields and potato-drills we trekked and
picked until the cans were full, until the
tinkling bottom had been covered with green ones,
and on top big dark blobs burned like a plate of
eyes. Our hands were peppered 15 with thorn
pricks, our palms sticky as Bluebeard's. We
hoarded the fresh berries in the byre. But when
the bath was filled we found a fur, A rat-grey
fungus, glutting on our cache. The juice was
stinking too. Once off the bush 20 the fruit
fermented, the sweet flesh would turn sour. I
always felt like crying. It wasn't fair that all
the lovely canfuls smelt of rot. Each year I
hoped they'd keep, knew they would not.
Blackberry-Picking Form
  • Form represents the retelling of a poignant
    memoryTone shifts from stanza 1 to stanza 2
  • Fresh blackberries in the first stanza
  • Indicate youth, innocence, hope, inexperience,
    sexuality with coming-of-age
  • Rotten blackberries in the second stanza
  • Indicate disappointment, reality, old age,
  • AABBCCDDEEFF rhyme scheme

Blackberry-Picking POV/Speaker
  • Speaker uses first person POV, indicated he/she
    was a participant in the picking
  • We hoarded the fresh berries in the byre
  • Speaker also uses second person with you,
    making the reader feel as if he or she is along
    for the picking.
  • You ate that first one and its flesh was sweet
  • The speaker is a man looking back on the vivid
    days of his youth spent in the countryside.
  • The first few lines use verb tense indicating the
    past and that a memory will be shared
  • Late August, given heavy rain and sun
  • for a full week, the blackberries would
  • The last line indicates that the speaker is
    looking back on the past and reflecting
  • Each year I hoped they'd keep, knew they would

Blackberry-Picking Style
  • TONE tone shifts from innocent, nostalgic, and
    youthful in the first stanza to melancholic and
    disappointed in the second stanza as the
    blackberries rot to the speakers dismay
  • lust, blood, thorns, wine, flesh, tongue,
    glutting, hoarding related to Biblical/Christian
    language and reminds reader of Adam and Eve,
    Christs sacrifice, tradition, and the seven
    deadly sins all associated with blackberry
  • Colors purple, green, red indicate youth grey
    in second stanza indicates old age
  • SYNTAX list of milk cans, pea tins, and jam
    pots hayfields, cornfields, potato drills
    indicate plenty and create a rhythm
  • CONNOTATION words have both a Biblical and
    sexual connotation with words like lust and
  • IMAGERY childhood memory is extremely vivid,
    using all five senses, with description of smells
    stinking sights rat-grey fungus touch
    briars scratched taste flesh was sweet so
    poignant that its almost as if the act is being
    performed in front of the reader

Blackberry Picking Device 1
  • Simile/Allusion
  • Our hands were peppered with thorn pricks, our
    palms sticky as Bluebeard's.
  • Bluebeard is a French literary folk tale about
    a wealthy aristocrat with a blue beard who has
    been killing his wives and hiding their bodies in
    a locked room
  • Indicates the boys are guilty, like Bluebeard,
    but not him, thus the simile instead of metaphor
  • Hands sticky, like drying blood
  • Bluebeard hoarded his wives as the children
    hoarded the blackberries

Blackberry Picking Device 2
  • Alliteration
  • Where briars scratched and wet grass bleached
    our boots.
  • big dark blobs burned
  • Repetition of the b consonant sound and other
    consonant sounds used many times
  • Alliteration brings the readers attention to a
    certain part of the text
  • The connotation of the b sound is playful and
  • The words briars and bleached, and burned
    indicate permanence

Blackberry Picking Device 3
  • Simile
  • You at that first one and its flesh was sweet
    like thickened wine summers blood was in it
    leaving stains upon the tongue and lust for
  • This simile indicates that the blackberry has
    blood, and the picking leaves stains upon the
    child, creating a memory, just as a tattoo might
    leave a mark on the skin.

Blackberry Picking Themes
  • Lust/Desire
  • Speaker longs for blackberries to stay fresh and
    young but is disappointed
  • Lust for pickingwe hoarded the fresh berries
  • Childhood vs. Adulthood
  • Speaker is nostalgic about the past but now
    realizes his past naïveté
  • A loss of innocence, moment of realization and
    disgust with realitylike a child who just found
    out that Santa isnt real
  • Holding onto the Past
  • Speakers desire to keep the berries fresh is a
    metaphor for an attempt to freeze time natures
    beauty doesnt always endure the test of time
  • Each year I hoped they'd keep, knew they would

Test Questions
  • Five test questions, which will be included on a
    final poetry test over all poems presented by
  • Questions may be multiple choice, T/F, or short

The Century Quilt by Marilyn Nelson Waniek
My sister and I were in love with Meemas Indian
blanket. We fell asleep under army green issued
to Daddy by supply. When Meema came to live with
us 5 she brought her medicines, her cane, and
the blanket I found on my sisters bed the last
time I visited her. I remembered how Id planned
to inherit that blanket, how we used to wrap
ourselves 10 at play in its folds and be
chieftains and princesses. Now Ive found a
quilt Id like to die under Six Van Dyke brown
squares, 15 two white ones, and one square the
yellowbrown of Mamas cheeks. Each square holds a
sweet gum leaf whose fingers I imagine would
caress me into silence. 20 I think Id have
good dreams for a hundred years under this
quilt, as Meema must have, under her
blanket, dreamed she was a girl again in Kentucky

among her yellow sisters, 25 their grandfathers
white family nodding at them when they met. When
their father came home from his store they
cranked up the pianola and all of the beautiful
sisters 30 giggled and danced. She must have
dreamed about Mama when the dancing was over a
lanky girl trailing after her father through his
Oklahoma field. 35 Perhaps under this quilt Id
dream of myself, of my childhood miracles, of my
fathers burnt umber pride, my mothers ochre
gentleness. 40 Within the dream of myself perhaps
Id meet my son or my other child, as yet
unconceived. Id call it The Century Quilt, after
its pattern of leaves. 45