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Songs of Ourselves

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Rob Hollingsworth

on 3 May 2011

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Transcript of Songs of Ourselves

SONGS OF OURSELVES The Voice Thomas Hardy Deals with the guilt felt after the death of his wife. This poem uses various techniques to express his sadness and regret. Hardy speaks about how he thinks he can hear his wife talking to him, but in reality it is just the wind.

Techniques like repetition mimic echoes, sounds that repeat but slowly fade away, perhaps like our own memories. The rhyme scheme adds a sense of pace to the reading and perhaps reflects the inevitability of loss in our lives. Like the rhyme scheme, time mercilessly moves forwards and does not remember us.

This is made particulary poignant in the final stanza where the rhythm breaks down in contrast to the continuing rhyme scheme. This reflects his own inability to move on in his life, giving more power to the alliterated line, 'faltering forward'. The alliteration also creates a stuttering effect that supports this notion.

Sound is extremely inportant in this poem and you may also notice the sibilance in the third stanza that eerily reflects the breeze he mistakes for his wife's voice.

You should also consider the imagery, such as Autumn and leaves that reflect both his thoughts and the reality of his lost vitality and life. Time

Time is unusual as it does not deal with traditional poetic subjects such as love, loss or nature. Although this makes it peculiar at first, it does make sense as in the modern world we understand things through scientific study and not through our perception or senses, as in times of old.

The poem essentially tries to present time, but ultimately fails to give a satisfactory explanation as to what Time is or how it works. This reflects reality, where we still do not fully understand the universe around us and is perhaps best shown in the fourth stanza where it is described as, 'mountainous fabrics'. In fact, in a criticism of this poem, you will probably only need to quote from the final three stanzas.

The opening four stanzas are notable for their rhyming triplets, an unusual technique, and their repetition of all the things time is. This is almost biblical as it draws comparison to the character God's famous words, 'I am that I am'. In the modern world, science has exposed the inherant lies of religion and our archaic belief in fairies, angels and gods has been replaced by belief in scientific theories such as the Big Bang. Time and natural selection have created the world we percieve and this would seem to be the main point of the poem's opening.

The final three stanzas then offer some interestiong analogies and serve to establish the power of time. The concepts that end the poem, 'Begining', and, ''End', are important to us and underline the idea that time is our real creator and will be our destructor as well. Dover Beach This poem deals with the loss of faith in the world and seems to suggest true hope and salvation can only be offered by love.

The poem was written around 65 years before the First World War during a time of political instability and this atmosphere is clearly present. So too is a sadness at the loss of faith as it had promised so much.

This poem is not just about the, 'Sea of Faith' metaphor, but is far deeper. Think about how faith is characterised with its, 'withdrawing roar'. What animals roar? Is this a reflection of the way in which faith has mainly been spread through fear, threat and violence.

Marks wil be awarded for recognising the subtle building of atmosphere in the first stanza, where there is a clear contrast between where he stands and what he looks at.

As time goes on, so his initial feelings change as he allows his mind to dream. Essentially he then decides that we have changed very little since the days of Sophocles, a fact that goes totally against the ideas of the life of Christ, God's foregiveness and our admittance to heaven. We are what we always were and remain ignorant as to our origins, our future and the meaning of our existence Amends - Adrienne Rich Amends is a relatively simple poem that can be read as addressing the following question: can nature heal man's destruction of it? The repetition of, 'as it', builds a sense of scale, or size. The scale of the moon's power, the scale of nature's wounds, the scale of the job to be done.

The poem begins, 'Nights like this', telling us that we are looking at what would appear to be any ordinary night. The moon gradually rises over the sea, before coming inland and eventually reaching the human inhabitants in their trailers. Notice the constant personification through verbs like, 'picking', 'laying its cheek', and, 'licks,' amongst others. These words all suggest a delicacy and intimacy to the moon in its dealings with the earth.

However, when it reaches the, 'tracks', the first man made object, there is a subtle change. The moon now, 'flicks'. There is a hesitancy implied in this verb, as if the moon is unsure. What is the purpose and effect of this, do you think? Furthermore, the quarry, a man-made excavation site is described as a, 'gash'. This metaphor powerfully expresses the poet's feelings towards our exploitation of the earth and it's resources. What do you think those feelings are?

Overall, the poem seems to suggest that the earth is only at peace while we sleep. The final line changes the words from, 'as it', to, 'as if'. What do you think the effect of this is? Remember there are many possible answers, so think carefully and then explain why you feel how you do. Full Moon and Little Frieda This poem also exploits the imagery of the earth. Notice the delicacy of the images, such as the, 'tense', 'spider's web', or the, 'pail', or bucket of water, so still it is a perfect, 'mirror'. Hughes is standing outside with his baby daughter Frieda and sees this delicacy as reflecting the intricate delicacy of a human baby. Hughes therefore seems to see a connection between us and nature.

This idea is extended in the third stanza with a metaphor about cows. Although we might associate this image of a, 'river of blood', with more macabre subjects, it can add nicely to our observations on the first two stanzas. Rivers are in many ways like the veins in our bodies, carrying life to all parts of the land. His metaphor therefore creates an image where the animals and the land are part of one living body. This is important as it suggests a harmony between all things on earth, be they plant, animal, object, such as a bucket; or celestial body, such as the moon. This is different to other poems, where human's seemed to be in opposition to nature. You may also wish to consider the choice of cows in your explanation, an animal that has been entirely domesticated by man and could be seen as a symbol of our ability to harness and work alongside the natural world in which we live.

Finally, Hughes goes back to the image of the moon. It is personified as an, 'artist', that has created all below. This seems to conclude what was said earlier about animal, plants, objects and man being part of one united whole in nature. Importantly, he suggests that the moon, as artist, has created the little baby girl that, 'points at him amazed'. This not only adds to this idea of unity between man and nature, but the amazement of both parties also adds to the idea of how special and intricately beautiful all life is. Lament This is another poem that uses repetition to build a sense of scale. A sense of the size of the destruction we cause and the sadness that one day we shall all share. The poem was inspired by the Gulf War in Iraq, a war itself inspired by oil, and many of the images were drawn directly from photographs of real events. The poem however, does not just lament nature's loss, but also the general sadness of war and its bleakness.

The poem is rich with imagery that can be interpreted how you like. The, 'green turtle', could be seen as a metaphor referring to a tank with its missiles, or, 'pulsing burden'. However, it may simply be more literal. An animal for who childbirth is a, 'pulsing burden', or painful problem. This is in sharp contrast to the joy usually associated with this process. In particular, the word, 'pulsing', suggests an immediate necessity and also introduces physical pain to the tone of the poem. What can we similarly say about words such as, 'funeral silk', and, 'nest of sickness'? Think about these words and their many implications, such as the richness and almost sickliness of silk as a material of wealth.

There are constant referances to, 'shadow', and, 'veil[s]'. This idea of blindness is important to the poem, alluding to our own ignorance of the destruction we cause, but also perhaps criticising our deliberate avoidance of the truth. How often have you bee shocked by events elsewhere in the world but done nothing to try to change it?

This criticism of humans is perhaps most obvious in the fourth stanza, where we have the, 'gunsmith and armourer', two people who profit from war; the, 'boy', who joins because his friends do and the, 'farmer's sons', who like the fanfare. In particular, the farmer's sons are poingant symbols as they usually work with the earth, but with a bit of music and parade are tempted to join in its destruction. Again, what does this say about us as ignorant followers?

The final image is perhaps the most important. The, 'ashes of language', are the last thing lamented. Words therefore are how we avoid war. All diplomacy begins with words, with communication and when this fails we have war. Language is our unique gift that enables us to get along, without it we are nothing more than ignorant and destructive. On the Grasshopper and the Cricket This is a Petrarchan Sonnet written by John Keats. The poem is a celebration of the cycle of nature and the cycle of life. Through summer and winter, the entire year, nature continues to live and thrive and perhaps we can call this the poetry of nature.

Where the grasshopper is fortunate enough to live in the summer, when, 'luxury', is not hard to find, the cricket is forced to live in the winter. However, the cricket is able to provide warmth to this bleak time of year through his voice, 'in warmth increasing ever'. Therefore the poetry of nature is always available for us if we wish to seek it and is both warm and comforting.

There is a gentle sound to this poem, created by soft alliteration, such as, 'mown mead', and the assonance, or repeated ee sound in, 'He rests at ease beneath some pleasant weed'. Indeed, the fact that even the, 'weed', is pleasant, shows how we can always find beauty and comfort in nature if we look hard enough.

As we know, the Petrarchan Sonnet was most commonly used to speak about unnattainable love. The 'problem' of the octave, 'poetry of the earth is never dead', is not really a problem at all. The volta, which usually signifies a drastic change in tone, is merely a paraphrasing of the same idea, 'poetry of the earth is ceasing never'. There could be a number of reasons for this. Perhaps Keats is offering nature as the perfect antidote to our problematic love-lives. A short spell outdoors appreciating its beauty can solve the anguish created by unattainable love. Maybe he merely wants to contrast how nature's beauty is always available to us, unlike the objects of our romantic feelings, who can be harder to tame. Think about why you think he has chosen this form and what the effect of the unconventional volta are before answering a question on this poem. The Flower-Fed Buffaloes Vachel Lindsay's poem is very critical of the human impact on the praries of North America and the cultures that used to live there. There is an obvious regret expressed towards the decimation of the native buffalo, an animal that was of extreme importance to the culture and survival of the Native Indians. It is believed that up to 75 million buffalo once roamed the land but by the time Lindsay was writing, there were only around 300 remaining.

This is another poem where sound is important. The alliteration in the title for example, creates a link between the buffaloes and the flowers, animal and nature, that is not shared by humanity. The poem is also rich in assonance and repetition and you may wish to reflect on the importance of these.

There are also some important word choices to consider in this poem. For example, the crop , or grass, wheat is planted by man and is the third largest cereal crop in the world, after maize and rice. It feeds the masses. However, a look at your own country, especially the lands that lie around Navedad, Litueche and the coast, will show the effect of this crop. It eventually destroys the earth, leaving it infertile for decades. The Californian gold-rush was fed by the wheat grown in Chile and the land that provided it is now wasteland, unable to yield more crops. This lends power to the contrast of, 'tossing, blooming, perfumed grass', that is swept away. Other words worthy of consideration are, 'blooming', 'perfumed', and, 'ranged'.

Finally, think about how he juxtaposes the human and natural worlds, trains that, 'sing', with buffalo that, 'bellow'. What is the effect of these comparisons and how does it add to the sadness created in the repetition of, 'lying low'? Report
Wordsworth Report to Wordsworth is a Shakespearan Sonnet addressed to William Wordsworth. Wordsworth was a Romantic poet, who saw nature as the emblem, or a symbol of God or the divine. As a Romantic, he believed in emotion and sensory perception of the world over the Rationalism of the Enlightenment and Industrialisation. Therefore, it is obvious why a poet wanting to resurrect the power and beauty of nature might relate to him.

The sonnet itself echoes the words of both Wordsworth and another poet before him, Milton. It is rich in imagery and allusion, attempting to blend classical Romanticism with contemporary imagery. The first Quatrain introduces ideas such as, 'waste', and, 'smog', that a modern audience can immediately relate to. In particular, the simile of the, 'dying clock', emphasises that we are approaching the end unless we change. Specifically, this is an end from which there is no return.

The second quatrain then evokes images of the Roman gods, struggling to save us. These gods, borrowed from Greek Mythology were heavilly based on the natural world, so would seem to be its natural protectors. However, they are helpless. Notice how the poet pays particular attention to showing how their senses are being denied, unable to see, hear or even move.

The next quatrain then returns to our world, with, 'insatiate man'. The word, 'insatiate', is particularly strong and worth comment. The final couplet seems to allude to the hole in the ozone layer and also to the modern, Judaic god.

You must try to comment on the form of this poem. Why might he choose a Shakespearean sonnet with its couplet at the end and why is there so much caesura? perhaps this constant disruption of the rhythm is there to reflect our unnatural disruption of the natural world? First Love This poem, by John Clare, challenges the conventional view of love as rewarding and glorious. Its main point seems to be that first love never lasts long, but because it is stronger than any other type of love, it ruins the rest of our lives as we will be unable to forget it.

He begins with a number of clichés, such as being blinded by love, unable to stand, or knocked off his feet and comparisons such as that to a flower. Despite the ideas being stereotypes, they still powerfully present his love through the physical effect it has on him. In particular, the sense of disorientation is clear. Why do you think he uses clichés though? Is it because he thinks everyone will have the same emotions at some point in their life?

Indeed, as the poem moves through the second stanza, this sense of disorientation becomes greater and begins to create worry in the reader. The ending of this second stanza, with the synaesthesia and the, 'burnt', blood seems excessive and as a reader, we react to it apprehensively.

Finally, he ends the poem with a number of oxymoronic contrasts. This reflects both the polar opposites of his emotions as well as his confusion. Love has brought him sadness and rejection, not happiness as was promised. His final two lines, as to his heart leaving, confirm our thesis that love is painful as we can never experience the glory of first love more than once, so after we have loved once we can never love properly again. Marrysong Marrysong is the most contemporary of the love poems and perhaps the most accessable to us. However, there is more to it than just the extended metaphor of mapping geography.

The opening line is important. On their own, the opening words, 'He never learned her', are clearly criticizing the husband. However, the word, 'quite', totally changes the sentiment, instead suggesting the husband has tried but narrowly failed. Indeed, the pause created by the comma before quite, creates a far more gentle tone than criticism.

We are shown both sides of the wife, her anger and her joy. Again, think about specific words such as, 'stones', and, 'walled'. How do these cleverly evoke the emotions or situations they are metaphorically describing? There is also some clever word play, such as in the penultimate line when he puns on the word, 'Wondered'. When spelt, 'wandered', this word means to walk around, not to think. This is clearly a pun as although he, 'stayed home', this implies that he will metaphorically be wandering around the landscapes his wife is creating.

The poem appears to be in free verse, despite the odd rhyming couplet. However, the final couplet serve to end the poem on a note of unity. Where before the lack of a regular metre and the constant caesura reflect her changing, or ruleless geography, the final couplet is harmonious, like the husband and we assume, their relationship.

Overall, the poem seems to suggest that we must enjoy the rough and the smooth of a relationship if we are to make it truly successful. Remember when you write about it that it is about a husband and a wife, not Scott and his own wife. The fact it is called Marrysong and written in the third person makes it impersonal and therefore about marriage and not one particular couple. Sonnets Petrarchan Sonnet

Usually about unattainable love
14 lines
Consists of an Octave and a Sestet
Octave usually introduces the problem
First line of the sestet is called the Volta. It introduces a pronounced change in tone
These sonnets never finish with a rhyming couplet so as to avoid the unity implied Shakespearean Sonnet

Usually discuss love of some sort
14 lines
3 quatrains and a couplet
Volta, or change can be in the third quatrain or in the couplet Sonnet 43 is a Petrarchan Sonnet. Browning's father did not approve of her relationship with Robert Browning and so this explains the choice of form. There is also a definite difference between the hyperbolic and impersonal imagery of the octave and the more personal reflection of the sestet.

The problem is clear: 'How do I love thee'. Browning begins, as mentioned, with referance to impersonal and greatly exagerrated concepts, such as the dimensions and, 'Ideal Grace', and, 'Right{ness]'. This not only serves to emphasise the enormity of her feelings, but also accurately reflects how difficult it is to define a feeling, or give it a meaningful value.

The change of tone appears in the volta where the poem becomes more personal, referring to her, 'old griefs', and, 'lost Saints', that would seem to be her brother and mother, who both died young. Do you think she is suggesting that in order to feel great love, we must also have felt great loss?

The term, 'childhood's faith', is also interesting, as children believe things without questioning. There is a quasi-religious tone to her love implied in this phrase as well as the biblical language, 'Saints', 'faith', 'Grace', that also adds to the size or scale of her love. Indeed, once again we could say that the repetition in the sonnet adds a sense of scale to her feelings.

The Browning's eventually married in secret and eloped to Italy together. This poem however, is a good example of how a traditional Petrarchan poem works and compares well to a number of other poems in the pack. Sonnet 29 is a Shakespearean Sonnet that is notable for its anguish and similarities to the rejection of love infered in First Love.

The poem immediately begins, 'Pity me not', requesting that the reader does not feel sorry for the poet. A number of obvious natural processes are then listed, such as the end of day, 'beauties passed away', the, 'waning of the moon', and the, 'ebbing tide'. Although we would not normally regret these things with profound sadness, they are all images that are commonly use in poetic metaphor. Indeed, we have seen all three in other poems during the course. The effect of this is to point out our propensity, or tendency to feel sad about things that are inevitable.

Having done this, Millay moves on to, 'man's desire', the main subject of her wrath. Like these natural processes, she sees man's desire as capricious and short-lived and so concludes that it is folly, or stupid to feel sorry about lost love as it is inevitable that the man will always lose interest. The caesura at the beginning of the third quatrain draws more attention to, 'This have I known always', addind a sense of finality and assuredness to the statement. This is why we should feel no pity towards Millay.

There is also room for comment on specific word choice in this poem. For example, the word, 'wreckage', in the metaphor that ends the third quatrain is particularly poignant and merciless in its portrayal of what love does to us. Love, to Millay is nothing more special than any of the so called phenomena that we have unravelled through science. However, you may wish to comment on her use fo a capital when speaking of, 'Love', in the third quatrain, especially in comparison to, 'man's desire', that is not seen as important enough to warrant one.

Finally, where do you think the Volta comes? It could be in either the thrid quatrain or the couplet. I would argue that it is in the couplet that the real change occurs. Millay changes from, 'Pity me not', to, 'Pity me that the heart is slow to learn'. Hence the final message of the poem is that the heart is not able to learn as quickly as the brain and so love will continue to go on hurting people. This is not the fault of man's capriciousnes, but the foolishness of the heart. So We'll Go No More A'Roving

Byron, even by today's standards, is renowned for his sexual openess and many relationships. He was a merciless womaniser and alcoholic who loved the leasures a man of wealth could enjoy.

This poem is based on a popular drinking song about a man who is caught with a married woman and was sent in a letter to his best friend. Byron exiled himself from England and spent years in Europe, travelling from city to city, expoliting favour and love, before moving on to another. His good friend Thomas Moore had shared many a night and probably many women with him as well. However, at the time of writing, he was back in England. The rhythm and rhyme lend the tone a sense of fun and playfullness that characterise the poet's own sentiments on love.

Whereas First Love, for example, rues the loss of love, this poem would seem to celebrate how short and sweet love can be. Lines such as, 'the night was made for loving', seem to express a desire to find a new lover each night and when we consider the word, 'Roving', in the title, which implies wandering at random, we can infer that Byron sees love as something that we can move in and out of at will and without regret. Indeed, in contrast to Clare, Byron claims that, 'the heart be still as loving', rejecting the notion that love's power decreases each time we feel it.

However, he does suggest that tiredness can force one to quit. He does this both literally, 'heart must pause to breathe', and metaphorically, 'sword outwears its sheath'. There is a sexual aspect to the metaphor, that can be read in different ways. He could merely be referring to physical tiredness from too much sex or more graphically saying that one can quickly get tired of having sex with the same person, or, 'sheath'.

The poem soon ends and due to the playful tone, it is difficult to believe his resolution that he has done with this lifestyle. One can easier imagine that he has scribbled the poem quickly as a joke for his poor friend who is stuck back in England and unable to partake in the fun that he himself is having.
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