“The Writer” – Analysis

Blog: Just a free reflection this time: what do you think is the message of the poem? Why?

I really like this poem because of the way it portrays its message through the use of similes and metaphors. The first metaphor is comparing the girl’s life to the sea. The first line uses the word, “prow”, and on the second line, the speaker says “the windows are tossed with linden”, both relating to situation to a journey at sea. The linden being the ocean and its waves. On the sixth line, the speaker uses a simile, comparing the girl typing to “a chain hauled over a gunwale.” Throughout this poem, the girl’s life is used metaphorically with the sea. She often pauses, connoting the struggles she faces in writing her story, but even more to represent the obstacles in life. Her father wishes her a “lucky passage”, also relating to a ships journey, hoping she will do well. The journey in this case is the girl’s life and how her father can get the ship to start, but the girl has to guide and steer it. This idea is portrayed in the majority of the second half of the poem, when a starling was trapped in the same room the girl is typing in. Her father watched and waited for it to find the open window, careful of not frightening it. This is a similar situation to the idea of opening the door for the daughter. Finally, on lines 26-30, the bird gathers its brains to find the open window and escape the room, and “Clearing the sill of the world.” The father wants his daughter, the writer, to face the world.

“Digging” – Analysis

Blog: Contrast the first stanza of the poem with the last, considering specifically the replacement of “snug as a gun” (2) with “I’ll dig with it” (31). What kind of attitude toward the speaker’s work does each phrase suggest? What does this slight change from the beginning of the poem to the end represent? Can you support your analysis with evidence from the middle stanzas?

I really enjoyed the way this poem was written and how it portrays its message of following you talents, but begin aware of what came before you. The first and last stanzas are the same, except Heaney added “I’ll dig with it” to the last stanza, referring to the speaker’s pen. As it says in the first stanza, the pen rests as “snug as a gun” in his hand, suggesting that he feels comfortable with the pen, and the pen fits well in his hand. Throughout the poem, he watches his father dig outside, “Stooping in rhythm through the potato drills.” He sees how well his father digs; how he has been digging for his whole life: “Bends low, comes up twenty years away.” The fifth and sixth stanzas describe the young man’s grandfather digging out his years as well. The speaker says, “Through living roots awaken in my head, but I’ve no spade to follow men like them,” connoting his desire to follow a different path. He takes the strong qualities that he has seen growing up in his father and grandfather, and uses them with writing. The last stanza says, “I’ll dig with it,” showing how he will use his pen to dig like his elders. The young man is breaking the tradition, however, he will still dig with the pen, symbolizing the spade, but this time through writing.

Shakespeare’s Sonnet 138 – Double Meaning Words

Throughout this sonnet, there are a few words with multiple meanings:

Lie(s) – Line 2 says, “lie(s)”, which can either mean not telling the truth or during that time, sleeping with another lover. On the second to last line, Shakespeare writes, “Therefore I lie with her and she with me,” which in this case can be about them lying to each other, or how they remain a loving couple. On the last line, “And in our faults by lies we flatter’d be,” I feel like “lies” means to not tell the truth, because of the word, “faults” before it. The two use their lies to balance out their relationship. I just want to point out that on the first line, he calls his lover “my love” showing they stay together, despite the lying.

Vainly – The next word with two meanings is, “vainly”, which is on line 5. In one case, it means that she just thinks he is young and inexperienced, or it could mean that she does not want him to learn about her infidelity.

Simply – The word “simply” is located on line 7, and the two meanings I pulled out of it are something made solely up of one thing, or something easily done. In this context, I think the meaning would be the latter.

Habit – The last double meaning word is “habit”, on line 11, I found very difficult to grasp. The only meaning I found other than something random (a loose garment) and a regular practice, which seems to make more sense. The line would explain how love is best seen is though trust.

“Meeting at Night” – Imagery and Musicality

Blog: Choose one of the poems and make some observations about the effects of the imagery and musicality (meter, assonance, rhyme, etc.)

I found this poem to be harder than “The Forge”, but I was able to pull some things out of it. The first use of musicality I noticed is the word “the” in the first three lines. Each “and” pauses the line, making the reader wait to hear what the other half of the line is. There is “the gray sea and the long black land”, “And the yellow half-moon”, and finally “And the startled little waves”. Each of these seem to set a nice setting for the poem, showing where it takes place. Lines 3 and 4 make a perfect rhyme, with “leap” and “sleep”. Next, on line 6, I heard the “sh” sound in the words “quench” and “slushy”, which both let the reader to hear what is happening. In the following line, I somehow sense serenity, with the soft “s” sounds, such as “sea-scented”. This helps one imagine a “mile of warm sea-scented beach”. The next line feels much faster, using many unstressed syllables to do so. When I read the line, I made it, stressed, unstressed five times, stressed, and the last two stressed. This speed in this line bring excitement to the poem, helping the reader feel what the character does about being so close to his destination. Something else I found is on line 9, where it says, “quick sharp scratch” helps me hear the man at his lover’s door. Lines 9 and 10 have a perfect rhyme with, “scratch” and “match”, connect the two lines in a sense that allows the reader to hear a knock at a door, and see a match being lit in a pitch-black room. Lastly, on the last line, I made out, unstressed thrice, stressed, unstressed twice, stressed, and the last two stressed.

“The Forge” – Imagery and Musicality

Blog: Choose one of the poems and make some observations about the effects of the imagery and musicality (meter, assonance, rhyme, etc.)

I saw a lot of imagery and musicality in this poem. The poem really paints a picture of a blacksmith inside his workshop. It had a dark, rusty feel to it, that allowed me to look into the poem. The first line grabs the reader with its mysterious words; “All I know is a door into the dark.” There is alliteration with the words, “door” and “dark” which add to this mysterious feel. The poet then talks about the outside of the workshop: “Old axles and iron hoops rusting.” This line leaves a small pause at the end, right after the word, “rusting” making the next line about the inside of the room dramatic. The speaker talks about some things inside the room, such as “the unpredictable fantail of sparks” and the “hiss when a new shoe toughens in water.” In these two lines, I can hear what is going on inside the workshop. The word “sparks” sounds like a spark, and “hiss” sounds like something hissing. These type of words help the reader hear what is happening in the poem. Line 9, talks about the blacksmith in his environment: “Where he expends himself in shape and music.” This line lets me see into the room, a man, “leather-aproned, hairs in his nose.” One rhyme I found is on lines 10 and 12; the words, “nose” and “rose”, somehow tying the two lines together. The words, “shape” and “music” can be related to his work, the shape being what he makes, and the music is the sounds that release from the room. Finally, the last line, “To beat real iron out, to work the bellows” is nice imagery, again showing the reader a man working, bending over to tend the fire.

UPDATE: One thing I noticed in class today that I did not see last night while reading this poem is how the blacksmith hears hoofs, but looks out the window and looks out the window seeing “traffic in flashing rows”. This shows how this blacksmith is stuck in a time where horses were used as transportation, but looks out the window, seeing cars and the present time; he and his job remained the same, while everything surrounding him evolved into a new world.

Sounds in “An Essay on Criticism”

Blog: Identify at least five brief examples in “An Essay on Criticism” when the sound echoes the sense, and explain each connection. If you wish, this can be more of a series of brief examples and explanations than one sustained paragraph, but it still should exceed 200 words.

“Though oft the ear the open vowels tire” (9)

– In this line, the speaker talks about repetitive open vowels becoming boring, and he uses this example in the line. There are many vowels in the line, showing exactly what his point is.

“While expletives their feeble aid do join” (10)

– This is a perfect example of Pope showing the reader what he is talking about. He writes about the use of expletives, or as the footnote says, unnecessary filler words (like “do” in this line). He uses the word “do” and at the same time, he is criticizing filler words that are of no use.

“And ten low words oft creep in one dull line” (11)

– The poet’s point in this line is to show how ten words move slowly through the line to reach its tired rhymes. The line has ten words, giving the reader a chance to experience the example.

“In the next line, it ‘whispers through the trees'” (15)

– This example really sounds like what it says; the word “whispers” allows the reader to hear a soft breeze blow past the tree. It is such a soft word, which is why the example is able to work here.

“Soft is the strain when Zephyr gently blows” (30)

– Again in this line, Pope uses wind to present his example. There are many s’s in this line making it truly sound like gentle winds blowing. Also, the use of the word “Zephyr” adds to that sound, with an open “e” and the “ph” to make a light “f” sound.

An Essay on Criticism Excerpt – Paraphrase

I found this poem very difficult to understand and this is my best shot at paraphrasing (starting at line 28):

There should be a certain sound when rhyming.

The “s” sound sounds like wind, the soft sounds flow in a river, but when a loud line comes it picks up the rhythm.

When trying to pick up the pace, the poem is over worked, making the reader slow down, but not to worry because a line like this can be easy to read.

Listed to the elements of the poem and be surprised.

Once understood, emotions come into play and the poem can be understood.

However, the meaning can change.

Do not make the poem difficult, and people should not be happy with such difficult pieces.

Do not let anyone reject your work, which shows too much pride or no sense.

Some parts are meant to be where they are, and they confuse people causing them to give up.

Do not let anyone comment too highly, as dullards look up upon and the smart ones approve; some things look like they have great meaning through the shade, but lacking interest can never enhance the meaning.