This is one of my favourite poems:
Delay by Elizabeth Jennings (1953)
The radiance of the star that leans on me
Was shining years ago. The light that now
Glitters up there my eyes may never see,
And so the time lag teases me with how
Love that loves now may not reach me until
Its first desire is spent. The star’s impulse
Must wait for eyes to claim it beautiful
And love arrived may find us somewhere else.
Poetic devices in the poem:
- Alternate lines rhyme
- A little assonance in “Love that loves now may not reach me until”
- Consonance in “And so the time lag teases me”
- Personification in “The radiance of the star that leans on me”
- Alliteration and repetition: “Love that loves…”
- Rhythm: there are 10 syllables in each of the lines, save for the opening which has 11
This is one with which I was entirely unfamiliar:
Symphony in Yellow by Oscar Wilde (1889)
An omnibus across the bridge
Crawls like a yellow butterfly,
And, here and there a passer-by
Shows like a little restless midge.
Big barges full of yellow hay
Are moored against the shadowy wharf,
And, like a yellow silken scarf,
The thick fog hangs along the quay.
The yellow leaves begin to fade
And flutter from the Temple elms,
And at my feet the pale green Thames
Lies like a rod of rippled jade.
Poetic devices in the poem:
- First and 4th lines rhyme, as do the second and third, in each verse
- Metaphors abound:
- “Crawls like a yellow butterfly”
- “…a passer-by Shows like a little restless midge.
- “And, like a yellow silken scarf, The thick fog hangs….” (There are more)
- Repetition of the word yellow in each verse (appears twice in the second verse)
- Another interesting repetition is starting the third line of each verse with And
- Alliteration: “And, like a silken scarf…”
- A little assonance in “…the Temple elms”
- The poem also has a sense of rhythm. All but one of the lines have eight syllables.
Now consider this excerpt from:
Skellig by David Almond (1998)
The main protagonist in the book, Michael, is sitting with his friend Mina. Her mother brings them both a cup of tea and starts talking about Persephone. Michael recalls her words. They finish like this (Persephone has now returned to the world):
“Spring came when she was released and made her slow way up to the world again. The world became brighter and bolder in order to welcome her back. It began to be filled with warmth and light. The animals dared to wake, they dared to have their young. Plants dared to send out buds and shoots. Life dared to come back.”
This piece of text fascinates me. There is repetition; world, became and dared are all repeated. There is some assonance; “The world became brighter and bolder….” The world is personified in the second half of this line; it became bolder and brighter “…to welcome her back.”
I thought it would be interesting to rewrite it like so:
Spring came when she was released
and made her slow way up to the world again.
The world became brighter and bolder
in order to welcome her back.
It began to be filled with warmth and light.
The animals dared to wake,
they dared to have their young.
Plants dared to send out buds and shoots.
Life dared to come back.
It seems to me that the text is as much poetry as prose. The significance of this is its place in the book. Michael is becoming very nervous about his baby sister who has a heart defect. She is in hospital having an operation as he and Mina sit in Mina’s garden watching spring unfold around them. In a tense and potentially difficult situation, the prose brings us a sense of struggle successfully mastered, of renewal and life reborn. The reader knows that his sister will live even if Michael is still fearful for her.
Almond, D. (1998) Skellig London: Hodder
Jennings, E. (1953) Delay At: http://famouspoetsandpoems.com/poets/elizabeth_jennings/poems/14187 (Accessed on 04 August 2017)
Wilde, O. (1899) Symphony in Yellow At: http://www.victorianweb.org/authors/wilde/symphony.html (Accessed on 04 August 2017)