In poetry, every piece of work is unique in its own way. However, most pieces of poems follow standard forms. Poems can be entertaining and or educating, depending on the poet’s choice of the role of the poem. The special characteristics that are shared by all poems include:
- Use of limited amount of words as most words are cut out.
- Poems are meant to be read and hard at the same time.
In poetry, there is the emphasis of important words, which may lead to creation of rhythm or repetition.
In this work, I have analyzed four poems by making a comparison of the poems. The poems in question are given in the appendix.
In this analysis, I have considered various aspects including the poem’s structure, the storyline, the viewpoint, the theme, rhyme, rhythm, tone, emotion and mood, imagery, and other advanced techniques like Metaphor, Onomatopoeia, Assonance, and Personification.
All the four poems are organized into stanzas. The length of each stanza varies from poem to poem with Matthew Arnold’s Dover Beach having the longest stanzas. However, Mary Oliver’s WILD GEESE has only one stanza. Alfred Lord Tennyson’s The Oak has the smallest stanzas with five lines in each of the three stanzas and each line having not more than three words.
The most important thing is the meaning of the poem. In my analysis, the guiding question was, “what is the poem about?” When we look at Tennyson’s the Oak, the poet talks about life experience and relates it to that of the oak tree during different seasons. The poem teaches everyone to live his/her own life. Oliver’s Wild Geese is also about life experience. The poet talks about desperation and loneliness as the world moves on. The poem encourages us to do only the things that makes us happy. Arnold’s Dover Beach also teaches about real life experience. We are told to love one another as the life is very dynamic. We are never permanent at the status we are in. Things are prone to change as we continue struggling with life. Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” is another life experience poem. It elaborates on the choices we make in life. The poem teaches us to thoroughly consider the reasons for making a given decision or choice in life. We must also think about the possible outcomes before deciding on a given choice of action.
This is the point of view at which the poet writes the poem. In “The Oak”, third person’s viewpoint is used. Use of words such as thy, his, and he, depicts this. The poem “Wild Geese” is also presented from the third person’s viewpoint. The author directly gives pieces of advice to the third party and this is depicted by use of words such as you and your. Arnold’s “Dover Beach” is presented from the first person’s viewpoint. The poet includes himself in the poem and uses words such as “I”, and “we”. Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” is also given from the first person’s viewpoint. The poet talks about himself and uses the word “I”.
All these poems talk about life experience and the natural world. “The Road Not Taken” is all about life choices and decisions, and the possible outcomes of such decisions. The persona is ready to share his experience with everyone after the decision he made. However, he wonders whether he shall come back and share the experience. The persona in the Arnold’s Dover Beach also talks about life experience and the world around us. In the last stanza, he says “let us be true to one another! For the world, which seems to lie before us like a land of dreams, so various, so beautiful, so new …”
The persona in the “Wild Geese”, though from third person’s point of view, talks about experiences in life. He says, “Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.” He also gives us a clue on how to live in this unpredictable world. He says “You do not have to be good; you do not have to walk on your knees; … You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves”. The persona in “The Oak”, also from third person’s viewpoint, talks about life. He says “Live thy Life, Young and old”. He goes ahead and compares the human life to that of an oak tree, which changes with seasons. In the same manner, the human life changes with the natural world.
In this work I have considered all the three categories of rhyme. They include the end rhymes, the internal rhymes, and the half rhymes.
Considering “The Road Not Taken”, the following rhymes can be observed:
In stanza one, the last word in the first line (wood) rhymes with the last words in lines three (stood) and four (could). The last word in the second line (both) also rhymes with the last word in the fifth line (growth). This forms rhyme scheme which can be described by a given pattern. The same can be observed in the remaining stanzas. This is given below:
Last words in lines 1, 3, and 4 rhyme. The words are fair, wear, and there, respectively.
Last words in lines 2 and 5 also rhyme. They are claim and same respectively.
Lay, day, and way rhymes.
Black and back also rhymes.
Sigh, I, and by rhymes.
Hence, and difference also rhymes.
In Matthew Arnold’s Dover Beach, the following rhymes are evident:
The last word in line one rhymes with the last word in line three. The words are night and light respectively.
Last word of line 5 (bay) rhymes with the last word of line 7 (spray)
Last word of line 8 (and) rhymes with the last word of line 11 (strand)
Other words that rhyme are fling and bring, brought and thought, seems and dreams, light and flight, pain and plain, flight and night, among others.
Imagery is used in poems to make comparisons. There can be direct comparisons and the indirect ones. Considering the poems in this case, imagery has been employed to a great extent.
Let’s start with the poem Dover Beach. Here, we can see some aspects of imagery. Simile has been used, as depicted in the examples below:
i. To lie before us like a land of dreams
ii. And we are here as on a darkling plain
iii. Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled
We can also identify the use of imagery in the poem Wild Geese. An example of the use of simile is, “calls to you like the wild geese”. In “The Oak” an example of imagery used is “Like yon oak”
We can also identify several aspects of personification in the poems below. In the Dover Beach, examples of personification include:
i. The moon lies fair
ii. The cliffs of England stand
iii. Where the sea meets the moon
In the poem Wild Geese, cases of personification include:
i. The world goes on
ii. The sun and the clear pebbles of the rain are moving across the landscapes
iii. The wild geese, high in the clean blue air, are heading home again.
iv. The world offers itself to your imagination, calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting -- over and over announcing your place in the family of things.
In the poem “The Oak”, the oak tree has been given human qualities. The pronoun “his” has been used to refer to this tree as depicted by the phrase “All his leaves”. The tree is also given human qualities like standing, as illustrated by the phrase “Look, he stands”.
In the analysis of poems, we consider the use and application of stylistic devices in such poems. Even though these devices are the same, poets apply them in their own unique way and make every poem unique as compared to others. Although all the above analyzed poems have similar theme (life experience and the natural world), each is different from one another.