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‘The Kraken‘ by Alfred Lord Tennyson is a fifteen line variant of an Italian or Petrarchan sonnet. The poem can be
divided into two sections, that can then be divided further. “The Kraken” is made up of one octave, or set of eight
lines, that can be divided into two sets of four lines, and one set nine lines. The poem follows a consistent rhyme
scheme of abab cdcd efghhgf.

Summary of The Kraken

“The Kraken” by Alfred Lord Tennyson describes the slumbering bulk of the Kraken, its eventual rise to the surface
of the sea, and resulting death.
The poem begins with the speaker describing how deeply one would have to look in the ocean to find the Kraken. It
is in a place no human can truly go. He continues on to state that the Kraken is not the king of this place, but just
another feature. This is due to the fact that he has been sleeping an “ancient” sleep. He has become a home for all
the creatures of the deep.
In the final lines of the poem it is revealed that eventually the Kraken will wake up, it will bring all its power to man
and angels alike, and then die when it reaches the surface.

Analysis of The Kraken

Lines 1-4
Below the thunders of the upper deep,
Far, far beneath in the abysmal sea,
His ancient, dreamless, uninvaded sleep
The Kraken sleepeth: faintest sunlights flee
The poem begins with the speaker describing a potion of the sea that is far from the reach or full understanding of
humankind. He is describing a place that is unfathomable to the human eye and can only be described in the
grandest of terms. The speaker is laying out the details of the habitat of the kraken and the life it lives.
The place that the kraken resides in is located, “Below,” or under, the layer of the “upper deep.” The portion of the
sea that is accessible to us, that which is referred to as big the “upper” section, is only the beginning. There is much
more to come. As the speaker takes the reader deeper down into the ocean he passes the “abysmal sea.” The
kraken does not reside anywhere close to the surface, he is “Far, far” beneath all the layers of the ocean.
Once the speaker has taken his readers down through the ocean, he comes upon the “Kraken.” He is in a deep sleep.
This is a state that he has inhabited for an innumerable swath of years. His sleep is “ancient, dreamless” and
“uninvaded.” The reader might get the feeling that now that the speaker has taken the narrative to this place that this
sleep might be coming to an end. The reader is now invading the Kraken’s realm.
In the final line of this section the speaker begins his description of what this place, and the beast within it, are like.
Lines 5- 8
About his shadowy sides; above him swell
Huge sponges of millennial growth and height;
And far away into the sickly light,
From many a wondrous grot and secret cell
The next four line provide the reader with a greater understanding of what this world so deep below the ocean is
like. The reader has been taken to a place that no human has been, or will ever go again.
In the realm of the Kraken there is no sun, he is much to deep below the waves for the sun to touch him. The next
lines emphasize the extended period of time the beast has been sleeping there.
He has remained in the same spot for so long that there are millennia of “growth” surrounding him. “Huge sponges”
and sea plants of every form “swell” around him. The Kraken is so deep in the ocean that there is only “sickly light”
about him.
It is in the meagre lighting that life has made its home. The Kraken has slept for so long in the same place that the
creatures of the sea have come to live in his “wonderous grot,” a shortened form of grotto, and within the
“Unnumbered” and “secret” parts of his body. His mass has become nothing more than another part of the ocean on,
in, and around which others have made their home.

Lines 9-15
Unnumbered and enormous polypi
Winnow with giant arms the slumbering green.
There hath he lain for ages, and will lie
Battening upon huge sea worms in his sleep,
Until the latter fire shall heat the deep;
Then once by man and angels to be seen,
In roaring he shall rise and on the surface die.
In the final nine lines of the poem a change is predicted in the realm of the Kraken.
This section begins with the poet’s speaker further emphasizing the fact that the beast has resided in this same place
for an endless number of days. There are “enormous polypi,” or growths, that “Winnow” or cover, his “giant arms.”
One might imagine his being covered with a “green” layer of small green growths.
The speaker continues on to say, “There hath he lain for ages.” Now the narrator goes further, to state that the
Kraken will continue to “lie / Battening upon huge sea worms” while he sleeps; at least for awhile longer.
The final three lines of the piece give a hint about what will happen when the time comes for the Kraken to wake up.
This will only happen when the “latter fire shall heat the deep,” he will be driven up from the floor of the ocean,
either by necessity or by a newly reinvigorated passion.
He will “once by man” and by the angels, be seen again. The world in its entirety will see the beast and know his
greatest. This one act of power and assertion will come crashing down though as “roaring he shall rise and on the
surface die.”
This entire poem can be interpreted as a metaphor for any type of impassioned revolution. The Krakencan be see as
a contingent of people, or a harboured hatred, discontentment or fear that finally reaches its breaking point. This
pure, unencumbered emotion will come “roaring” to the surface, but when it reaches the clear air, it dies. Even the
best intentions can fall short when they are met with the challenges of reality.

‘The Buck in the Snow’ by Edna St. Vincent Millay is a twelve line poem which is separated into one set of five
lines, or quintet, one single line, and then a final set of six lines, or sestet. ‘The Buck in the Snow’ has a very
interesting rhyme scheme inn that the entire first stanza, the single line in the middle, and two lines of the last stanza
all rhyme. Its twelve lines follow the pattern of: aaaaa a bacdaa. This is quite an unusual pattern and certainly works
to create a sense of unity within this piece.
There is no question that the poet wants her speaker to craft a certain tone at the beginning, and then as one will
learn at the poem’s halfway point, shock the reader with its continuance. That being said, it is important to note that
the first five lines of this piece are quite different, but also similar, to the final six. The first half of the poem holds
nothing but peace and images of a pristine world, while the second casts a shadow over this world by bringing in
death. You can read the full poem here.

Summary of The Buck in the Snow

‘The Buck in the Snow’ by Edna St. Vincent Millay describes the power of death to overcome all boundaries and
inflict loss on even the most peaceful of times.
The poem begins with the speaker describing a beautiful snow-covered landscape in which she is exploring. She
immediately turns to address her listener asking him/her if they were able to see the buck and the dear which passed
by the hemlock trees earlier. With this image in mind she tells the reader that now she has found the buck dead.
Death, something the speaker finds to be endlessly interesting and strange, came and took the deer. It has the power
to go wherever and whenever it wants to claim those it desires. Anyone could be next, including the last doe the
speaker saw.

Analysis of The Buck in the Snow

Lines 1-6
The speaker begins this piece by describing for the reader, and her listener, a specific scene. The poet has chosen to
write this piece with a certain listener in mind. The speaker is addressing the entire poem to one person, or perhaps
to one certain kind of person who needs to hear what she has to say.
The scene that the speaker describes is one of peace. There is a “White sky,” that might seem cold and distant, but at
this moment fits perfectly into the snowy world she is within. There are “hemlocks” all around the speaker which
are so heavy with snow that they are “bowing,” or bending. Amazingly, with only a few words the poet has been
able to paint a clear image of her world.
The next line begins with her speaking to the listener. She is asking him/her a specific question, if they saw the
“antlered buck and his doe” at the “beginning of evening.” They were, she says, “Standing in the apple-orchard.”
Whether the listener saw them or not, the speaker is ready to interject saying that she did. She “saw them” and then
“saw them suddenly go.” The animals bounded off without a moments notice.
The deer moved gracefully through this pristine winter landscape. They take “long” and “lovely” leaps. It is as if
they are moving in slow motion, although the speaker knows this isn’t’ the case. The last she saw of the animals, at
least for now, was the sight of their tails going over the “stone-wall into the wood.”
Just as she began this stanza she ends with, “hemlocks bowed with snow.” Here is where they disappeared, the last
place she saw them. At this pint in the piece the tone is quite calm and pleasant. There is nothing to be overly
concerned about, a reader should not be expecting the turn that comes with the floating middle line.

Line 6
This line state that “Now” the buck is in the snow at the speaker’s feet, she has found him with “his wild blood
scalding the snow.” The deer’s life force, something so pure and alive, is fading away. It is moving away in the form
of blood into the cold icy world that killed him.
Lines 7-12
Now that the poem has completed its turn to the darker side of life, the speaker is able to take her time
contemplating what it means to die and how death is a “strange…thing.”
The final sestet begins with just that statement that death is a “strange…thing” able to bring a beautiful, strong
animal like a “buck” to “his knees …in the snow.” She does not feel like there should be any force on earth capable
of this feat. A buck’s life should not drain out of it, nor should its “antlers” be in the snow.
She continues on through this section of the poem to speak of death’s ability to move from place to place. It is not
restricted by any human, animal or immaterial force. It goes where it needs to when it needs to.
In this particular situation, death could, she states, have moved from “Under the heavy hemlocks” which are moving
under the weight of the snow they bare. It could already be on its way to its next victim. The speaker does not doubt
that the next victim could be anther innocent creature, perhaps even the doe herself. The now lonely animal is filled
with “Life” at the moment, staring out into the world, but death could soon come along behind.

The Poplar Field by William Cowper

‘The Poplar Field’ by William Cowper is a five stanza poem which is divided into sets of four lines, or quatrains.
Each of these quatrains follow a consistent rhyme scheme in the pattern of, aabb ccdd eeff.., etc. You can read the
full poem here.

Summary of The Poplar Field

‘The Poplar Field’ by William Cowper describes the destruction of a field of poplar trees and how its loss allows a
speaker to reflect on his death.
The poem begins with the speaker describing how the place he loves no longer gives him shade. The trees have been
cut down and are now more like seats. Their loss has impacted more than just his own emotions though, the
blackbird no longer has anywhere to gain protection from the sun and has been forced to move to a new “scene.”
In conclusion, the speaker realizes that the pleasures of life are incredibly short, so much so that they are sure to die
out before humankind does. The entire situation has forced to speaker to contend with his own death.

Analysis of The Poplar Field

Stanza One
The speaker begins this piece by describing the current state of a place that means a great deal to him. The poet has
chosen to focus on the details of this place rather than fully describing when or where it is. Further description is not
necessary due to the fact that the reader will gain a full understanding of the emotions tied to the setting. The
experiences of the speaker in this place are what matters, not its actual location.
The speaker does devote a remarkable amount of time to describing the individual details of the setting. One very
important detail that is noted in the first line is that the “poplars are felled.” This is important because of the title of
the piece, and the fact that the poet chose to begin the poem in this way. The entire poem is named after this
particular field and the poplars within it. If the poplars are gone, then what is left? What kind of field is it?
The poplar trees have been cut down and the speaker notes to himself that this is a “farewell to the shade.” He is
describing the situation, and truly wishing the past farewell. A place that he cares deeply about has been irreparably
Departing alongside the trees is the “whispering sound of the cool colonnade” and the winds that used to “play” in
the landscape. There is an element of peace that is draining away, and the reader is not yet sure what is going to be
left behind.
This stanza ends with the loss of one other element of the landscape, the reflection of leaves in the River Ouse,
located in Yorkshire, England.

Stanza Two
The second stanza begins with the speaker describing why it is that things appear to be so changed. It has been
“Twelve years” since the first time that the speaker ever set his eyes upon the “view / Of [his] favourite field.”
Once more he turns to what was the grandest element of the landscape, the poplar trees. They have been felled, or
cut down, since the last time he was there. They no longer provide him with the shade they used to. His favourite
tree is now his “seat.” This is a reference to the fact that the trees are horizontal on the ground, they have been cut
down and, at this point anyway, abandoned.
The setting has been transformed and permanently changed within his mind. This descriptions the poet has included
are presented through a setting, but represent something so much larger. Cowper has crafted a larger commentary on
loss and change. As well as the inability to get back something, or some time, lost.

Stanza Three
In the third stanza the speaker turns to another creature that has been impacted by the cutting down of the poplars in
the field. He mentions “The blackbird” which has “fled” the poplar field for some other “retreat” which is now more
hospitable. “He,” referring to the bird, is looking for somewhere that can “screen” him from the heat.
There is no forest to protect the animals from the sun, nor from greater dangers. Everyone, including the speaker, are
newly exposed. The blackbird is seeking out a new sanctuary where he can sing his “ditty.” It no longer echoes
around the “scene” that the narrator remembers.

Stanza Four
In the second to last stanza the speaker directly references the passage of time and how it has brought so much
change to his own life, and to the life of his environment. He sees that his “fugitive years,” or the years of his youth
are “hasting away,” or slipping into the past.
He knows that becoming part of the past is his own fate as well. “Ere long,” or before long, he too will be lost.
When this happens, and he is dead, he will be covered in “turf” or earth, and have a “stone” at his head.
He is describing his own grave, where he will rest in the future. The speaker knows that before this field of poplars
can ever grow back, he will be long dead. He will not live to see it rejuvenated.

Stanza Five
In the final stanza the speaker takes a larger, overarching view of what has happened to his world. The shock of
seeing the field in this state has triggered him to think more deeply about life. It has “engage[d] him” more than
anything else. It has also inspired him to think on the way that the “pleasures of man” so easily “perish.”
As stated above, the poet has chosen to represent loss through the degradation of a much loved landscape. It is the
embodiment of loss, and is made easier to understand through its relatability.
In the last two lines the speaker summarizes what he has learned through seeing the poplar field as it now is. He
knew previously that the “enjoyments” of humankind are short, but now he knows that they “die sooner than we.”
They must be fully appreciated while they exist.
Ode on melancholy
Lines 1-2
No, no, go not to Lethe, neither twist
Wolf's-bane, tight-rooted, for its poisonous wine;

 The poem starts with a repeated denial or rejection—the speaker repeats "No, no!" as though he's telling us
that we're doing something wrong.
 (Fun fact! Earlier drafts of the poem included a stanza before this one, so the "No, no" that opens it actually
came in response to something that had already been said. Check out the "Best of the Web" section for
more information on this deleted stanza, and tell us why you think Keats might have taken it out…)
 The speaker tells us not to go to "Lethe," which is the river of forgetfulness in Greek mythology. According
to myth, any contact with the water of the River Lethe would make you forget all of your earthly cares and
 While that might sound like a good deal, our speaker doesn't want us to forget our troubles. Okay, got it.
 The speaker also tells us not to "twist" the roots of "wolf's-bane" for its "poisonous wine."
 No, he's not talking about the "wolfsbane potion" in Harry Potter that keeps you from becoming a
dangerous werewolf. The speaker's referring to the wolfsbane flower, which is poisonous in large doses,
but which is used in tiny quantities as an analgesic or mild pain reliever in some traditional medicines and
herbal remedies.
 We can't quite tell whether the speaker is warning us not to use wolfsbane as a poison to end pain forever,
or whether he's advising against the use of wolfsbane in small quantities as a pain reliever. Either way,
though, it's clear that he doesn't want us messing around with plants or herbs to deal with our troubles.

Lines 3-5
Nor suffer thy pale forehead to be kiss'd
By nightshade, ruby grape of Proserpine;
Make not your rosary of yew-berries,

 The speaker also advises against taking nightshade to relieve our pain. Nightshade is also a poisonous
plant, but like wolfsbane, it can be beneficial as a medicine in small doses. So again, the speaker's meaning
can be read in at least two ways: we shouldn't poison ourselves to end our suffering, but we also shouldn't
try to relieve it using medicine.
 The speaker makes another allusion to Greek mythology here when he calls nightshade the "ruby grape of
 Let's pause for a cultural side note: Proserpine (a.k.a. Persephone) was the daughter of Demeter, the Greek
goddess of fertility and growing things (she's an important goddess to farmers, for obvious reasons).
 When Hades, the god of the underworld, kidnapped Proserpine and took her to the land of the dead to be
his wife, Demeter was so distraught that all living plants on earth died. This wasn't so good for the earth, so
the other gods intervened and worked out a compromise: Proserpine would stay with Hades in the
underworld for six months out of each year, and would return to her mother on earth for the other 6
 And this, according to Greek mythology, is where seasons come from: when Proserpine is in the
underworld, her mother is in mourning and we get winter. When Proserpine comes back, it's spring again.
So this is a myth about new life and regeneration, and not just about death and sadness. Go check out
the "Symbols, Imagery, Wordplay" section for more on why this allusion to Proserpine is particularly
appropriate in this poem.
 And speaking of the poem, let's get back to it.
 Check out the two references to wine or grapes in these lines. The speaker doesn't come out and say it, but
maybe he's implying that we shouldn't use wine or other alcohol to dull our pain, either.
 The speaker also advises us not to make our rosaries, or our prayer beads, out of yew berries. Yew is
traditionally associated with mourning, but—you guessed it—they are also extremely poisonous.
 Okay, speaker, we get it—we shouldn't poison ourselves to escape from our trouble. That's just plain good

Lines 6-7
Nor let the beetle, nor the death-moth be
Your mournful Psyche, […]

 The speaker continues to advise us of what not to do when we feel down in the dumps, but this next one is
pretty tricky, so let's take some time to tease it out.
 First let's look at the "beetle" and "death-moth," and then we'll figure out what he's saying about them.
Shmoopers, it's time for another ancient mythology side note. The beetle may be a reference to ancient
Egyptian mythology in which the beetle was regarded as a sacred symbol of resurrection—scarab
beetles were placed in tombs. Scarabs were associated with Khepri, the god of the rising sun, which
represented new life. Ancient Egyptians believed that scarab beetles were able to generate themselves from
nothing, since this species of beetle is hatched inside balls of dung without obvious parents.
 Okay, so the beetle seems to be associated with transformation, renewal, and resurrection. What about that
 Here's a biology side note. The death-moth, or the death's-head moth, is a common name for the Acherontia
atropos. It got the nickname—and the reputation for being an omen of death—because of the pattern on its
body that looks like a human skull.
 The moth, like the beetle, is often seen as a symbol for transformation and resurrection, since (as we all
know from having read The Very Hungry Caterpillar as little kids), caterpillars transform into moths or
 Okay, so we've got two possible symbols for resurrection and transformation in this line, both of which are
associated with death in some way. The speaker tells us that we shouldn't let them "be our mournful
 Psyche is the ancient Greek root word in "psychology" and "psychic"—it means the "mind" or the "spirit"
or "soul." In other words, we shouldn't allow our minds and souls to become transformed by sorrow or to
become obsessed with these traditional symbols of death.
 But why does he say "Psyche" instead of "soul" or "mind"? Well, "Psyche" has another meaning, too,
which means it's time for another mythology side note.
 In Greek myth, Psyche was the human lover of Cupid, the son of Aphrodite, the goddess of love. Psyche
was married to Cupid without knowing who he was, but was warned never to look at her husband's face
when he visited her at night.
 She disobeyed (hard to blame her), and as a punishment, Aphrodite made Psyche perform a series of cruel
and difficult tasks.
 Cupid pleaded their case to the rest of the gods, who told Aphrodite to back off and allowed Psyche to
become an immortal.
 The story ends happily, with Psyche and Cupid reunited as equals.
 So when the speaker refers to a "mournful Psyche," he could be alluding to the part of the story when
Psyche is abandoned and forced to perform penance for having dared to look at her immortal husband.
 On the surface, the speaker is telling us not to become obsessed with symbols of death, but we should also
be aware of the fact that both the beetle and the death-moth are also associated with transformation and
resurrection—and the myth of Psyche does end happily.
 What's up with that? Perhaps the speaker is trying to suggest—in a very subtle way—that death and
mourning can often be transformed into new life and happiness? What do you think?

Lines 7-8
[…] nor the downy owl
A partner in your sorrow's mysteries;
 The speaker adds that we shouldn't allow the owl—another traditional symbol of death—to become the
"partner" of our sorrow.
 Again, we're not supposed to become too attached to symbols of sadness. Okay, okay, Keats—we get the

Lines 9-10
For shade to shade will come too drowsily,
And drown the wakeful anguish of the soul.

 Finally, the speaker explains why we're not supposed to look for relief from our sorrow from forgetfulness,
drugs, or suicide, and why we're not supposed to obsess too much over traditional symbols of sorrow or
death. It's because doing those things would "drown" our soul's anguish.
 But wait a second. Wouldn't it be a good thing to drown our sorrows? Wouldn't we wantto make ourselves
feel better, if we could? Why does he say this is bad?
 The key word here is "wakeful"—the speaker wants us to be alert and aware of our own anguish. We're
supposed to acknowledge it, and not try to cover it up with medicine or other means.
 This seems like a good place to notice the rhyme and meter of the poem. Check out the ends of the lines.
Notice anything?
Shmoop does: the rhyme scheme is ABABCDECDE—the classic pattern in an ode.
 We've also got ten syllables per line in a sort of daDUM daDUM meter. That, ladies and gents, is iambic
pentameter. Go check out the "Form and Meter" section for more on that.

Lines 11-14
But when the melancholy fit shall fall
Sudden from heaven like a weeping cloud,
That fosters the droop-headed flowers all,
And hides the green hill in an April shroud;

 The first stanza told us what we should not do when we feel melancholy—this stanza tells us what
we should do. Finally, some positive, constructive advice.
 The speaker tells us that when a melancholy mood strikes, it comes down suddenly, like a cloud or a fog
dropping from the sky. Boom: sadness.
 And when that happens, the "weeping cloud" or fog of our melancholy covers up flowers and hides the
green grass on the hills.
 In other words, when we're sad, our bad mood can blind us to the beautiful things around us. Depression
can be like a fog that conceals all the pretty stuff.
 The word "shroud" is used to describe the way a mist or fog rests on a hillside like a veil, but it's also a
word we associate with death—a "shroud" is the cloth that gets wrapped over a dead person at his or her
funeral. Adds a rather depressing note to these lines, don't you think?

Lines 15-17
Then glut thy sorrow on a morning rose,
Or on the rainbow of the salt sand-wave,
Or on the wealth of globed peonies;

 So when that melancholy mood strikes, we're supposed to feed ("glut") our sorrow on beautiful things (like
roses), not on the sad emblems of death.
 Don't go getting too uplifted, though. The beautiful things we're supposed to focus on aren't meant to cheer
us up; they're meant to remind us of the impermanence of joy and beauty.
 "Morning roses" don't last very long before they wilt; the rainbows you see at the beach in salty ocean
spray obviously disappear within seconds; and globed peonies, like morning roses, fade and turn brown
very soon after they open.
 Seems like the speaker wants us to think of beauty and sorrow as being linked together, somehow, because
all beauty fades with time. Maybe this is connected to those earlier images of death (the beetle and the
death-moth) that are also emblems of resurrection or transformation…

Lines 18-20
Or if thy mistress some rich anger shows,
Emprison her soft hand, and let her rave,
And feed deep, deep upon her peerless eyes.

 The speaker offers us another way to "feed" our melancholy mood: if our lover (the speaker assumes the
reader is male and that his lover, or "mistress," is a woman) is angry, we should let her yell or "rave" at us,
and just hold her hand, and contemplate the beauty of her eyes.
 Yeah, because that always ends a fight.
 The speaker keeps using the metaphor of "feeding" or "glutting" our melancholy mood. It seems like he
wants us to keep the melancholy alive. But why might that be?
 Maybe this is connected to the end of the first stanza, when he tells us to be wakeful and alert to our
 What do you think? Why should we "feed" our bad mood, according to this speaker?

Lines 21-24
She dwells with Beauty—Beauty that must die;
And Joy, whose hand is ever at his lips
Bidding adieu; and aching Pleasure nigh,
Turning to poison while the bee-mouth sips:

 The "she" of this line refers back to the "mistress" of the previous stanza.
 She is beautiful, but someday her beauty will fade. That's right, Shmoopers: your mistress will someday
grow old and die, and the speaker of this poem wants us to contemplate that fact.
 The speaker personifies Beauty when he says that the mistress "dwells with Beauty." Why doesn't he just
say that she is beautiful? Why does he make "Beauty" into a kind of roommate that she lives with?
 Maybe it's because her beauty isn't permanent—someday it's going to move out, and she's going to be
living alone, without her beauty. If he said that she is beautiful, it would seem like her beauty were more
 Another personification in the next line: the speaker says that Joy is like a person who blows kisses with his
hand at his mouth to say "adieu," or farewell.
 Yet another personification: Pleasure is "nigh," or nearby, and turns into poison right as you're sipping at it
like a bee sips nectar from a flower.

Lines 25-28
Ay, in the very temple of Delight
Veil'd Melancholy has her sovran shrine,
Though seen of none save him whose strenuous tongue
Can burst Joy's grape against his palate fine;

 Fun fact, Shmoopers: "Ay" is the poetic way of saying "yep."

 Yep, says the speaker, you can be in the midst of pleasure and still find a way to feel melancholy.
 The speaker uses another metaphor to express this—pleasure or "Delight" is personified as a god. You can
be worshiping in the temple of the god Delight, and still find a "shrine" (a holy place) dedicated to
Melancholy with a capital M.
 Note that "sovran" is a contraction of the word "sovereign" to give the word the right number of syllables to
fit the meter—check out "Form and Meter" for more on this.
 But because the shrine to Melancholy is "veiled," or partially hidden, in the temple of Delight, not everyone
can see it.
 Only someone who is able to burst the "grapes of Joy" is able to see how Melancholy is linked with
 You might think that a person who always sees something sad in every "temple of Delight" would be a
terrible pessimist, but the speaker assures us that the person who can see Melancholy in happy places
actually has good taste—they have a "fine palate."

Lines 29-30
His soul shalt taste the sadness of her might,
And be among her cloudy trophies hung.

 The gist here is that the person who understands that melancholy is linked with joy and pleasure will
understand the power of melancholy.
 And that person's soul will be a "trophy" that melancholy has won. The poem ends on a bit of a sinister
note, implying that everyone who experiences melancholy is like some sort of victory of the personified
emotion, like a deer head mounted on a wall.
 Think of it this way: pleasure and melancholy are linked because nothing that brings you pleasure lasts
forever. Beauty is fleeting, after all. And once that beauty or pleasure fades, what's left is grief at its loss—
or melancholy.

The Caged Skylark by Gerard Manley Hopkins

In the sonnet, The Caged Skylark, Hopkins makes an elaborate comparison between the human spirit and a skylark.
There are two stages of this comparison: in the octave the human spirit of a living human being is compared to a
caged skylark; in the sestet the human spirit of the same human being, when resurrected after death, is compared to a
free skylark.

Theme of The Caged Skylark

Man has a spirit which aspires upwards, which rises to soar to heaven but is kept back by the prison of the body, just
as a skylark, imprisoned in a cage, finds it impossible to fly upwards to the sky. The skylark, who is free, sings gaily
and, when tired, drops to rest in his own nest (not in any cage). The human spirit, too, will be glorified and attain
immortality after the death and resurrection of the individual. Thus, the theme of the poem is Resurrection. Similar
to the caged skylark, the human individual reacts against his confines, aspires above them, and is frustrated by them.
But after Resurrection the individual will no longer feel encumbered by the flesh or the body.
Before we start with the poem, let me tell you that the idea of the spirit being a prisoner in the body was a familiar
one during the Renaissance. In John Webster’s play, The Duchess of Malfi, there is a passage with which the octave
of this sonnet shows a striking similarity: “Didst thou ever see a lark in a cage? Such is the soul in the body: this
world is like her little turf of grass, and the heaven over our heads, like her looking-glass, only gives us a miserable
knowledge of the small compass of our prison.”
Besides, this poem is also said to be personal allegory of Hopkins’s life which was restricted and cramped by his
routine duties and by the constant frustration of his creative impulse. The religious life to which he had dedicated
himself placed a great mental strain upon him. He never wavered in his devotion, but he had to pay heavily for it. He
suffered terrible fits of depression and the torments of self-disgust which came upon him from time to time.
All this is reflected in the following lines in the present poem: “This in drudgery, day-labouring-out life’s age./ Yet
both droop deadly sometimes in their cells/Or wring their barriers in bursts of fear or rage.”

The Caged Skylark Analysis

As a dare-gale skylark scanted in a dull cage,
Man’s mounting spirit in his bone-house, mean house, dwells —
That bird beyond the remembering his free fells;
This in drudgery, day-labouring-out life’s age.
In the poem, The Caged Skylark, the poet compares the spirit of man to a caged skylark, which though possessing
the courage to face a storm, may be confined within the bars of a dull cage, so the spirit of man, which has the
courage to soar to heaven, is confined within the dwelling of the body which is a mean house of bones. Further, just
as the skylark can no longer remember the time of his freedom to fly over the wild mountain scenery, so the spirit of
man endures the drudgery of a slave, spending his long life on earth toiling and sweating.
Though aloft on turf or perch or poor low stage
Both sing sometímes the sweetest, sweetest spells,
Yet both droop deadly sómetimes in their cells
Or wring their barriers in bursts of fear or rage.
Continuing the comparison, the poet now says that there are times when both the man and the skylark, despite their
confinement, experience a secret joy and sing the sweetest songs, the skylark sitting aloft on the turf-covered floor
of the cage or on its perch in the cage, and the man below on the poor, humble stage of this world. But there are also
times when both the man and the bird experience the weight of this weary world and droop as though in death, or
else they grow desperate in their efforts to break out of their prison, with alternating outbursts of fear and anger.
Not that the sweet-fowl, song-fowl, needs no rest —
Why, hear him, hear him babble & drop down to his nest,
But his own nest, wild nest, no prison.
The poet then turns his attention to a skylark that is free. In spite of his freedom, this singing bird too needs rest
sometimes. After this bird has babbled his song up there in the sky, he must drop down to his nest. What makes all
the difference, however, is that the free bird can rest in his own nest, amid the wildness of Nature, not in a cage
where he would be deprived of his freedom.

Man’s spirit will be flesh-bound, when found at best,

But uncumberèd: meadow-down is not distressed
For a rainbow footing it nor he for his bónes rísen.
The poet, in this last stanza of the poem, says that in the same way, the human spirit, in the final state of
resurrection, will be bound by flesh, for such is man’s nature (composed of body and soul). But then man will feel
no hindrance from the flesh just as the down or fluff of dandelions, growing to seed in a meadow, feels no weight
from a rainbow. The ‘bones risen’ or the resurrected human body is compared to the down in a meadow, while the
human spirit is compare to a rainbow.)

Imagery used in The Caged Skylark

The aptness and vividness of images presented in this poem must also be admitted. The comparison made by the
poet in the poem of the soul being held a prisoner in the body with a skylark held as a prisoner in a cage is most
appropriate, though not new or original. The disparagement of the earthly life of human beings is expressed in
forceful language. ‘This is drudgery, day-labouring-out life’s age.’ The picture of a free skylark ‘babbling’ his gay
songs and then dropping into his nest for rest is vividly presented. The metaphor with which the poem closes is,
however, somewhat elusive because it contains an unfamiliar image; ‘meadow-down is no distressed/For a rainbow

Stormcock the Elder by Ruth Pitter

‘Stormcock the Elder’ by Ruth Pitter is a seven stanza poem which is separated into sets of six lines, or sestets. Each
of these sestets follows a specific and structured rhyme scheme. The lines follow a patter of ababcc, alternating
stanza to stanza as the poet saw fit.
The repetitive, and somewhat simple nature, of this rhyming pattern imbues the poem with a sense of unity and
continuity. By the time one gets to the second stanza, one should be able to predict the upcoming rhymes. This
structure also helps to keep the narrative on track. There are no moments in which the story goes off topic or away
from the main subject of the “stormcock.”
Another point that a reader should take note of is the definition of the word “stormcock.” It is a less common word
used to refer to a mistle thrush (a bird which is easily found across Europe, Asia and North Africa). You can read
the full poem here.

Summary of Stormcock the Elder

‘Stormcock the Elder’ by Ruth Pitter describes the nature of a mistle thrush which sings in close proximity to a
The poem begins with the speaker stating that she is within her “hermitage,” looking along a shelf for bread, when
she hears the sound of a bird singing. She goes to investigate and sees the stormcock, or mistle thrush, alongside her
dilapidated home. It does not notice her.
She spends the next stanzas describing what the bird looks like in great detail. The speaker takes note of everything
from the eyes, to the throat and tail feathers.
In the last lines she promotes a life of optimism. One should attempt to live as the mistle thrush does, singing out
even in February.

Analysis of Stormcock the Elder

Stanza One
In the first stanza of this piece the speaker begins by stating that she is alone in her “dark hermitage,” or small
dwelling. This is a strange situation for a speaker to be in and may raise a number of questions among readers. All
that one is aware of at this point is that she is “aloof,” or hidden…
From the world’s sight and the world’s sound,
She has placed herself in this position, or made her home in this particular spot, in an effort to hide from the world.
The speaker does not want to be a part of it. In the next lines she describes how she was moving along her hovel
near the “small door” along the roof, looking “along the shelf for bread.”
Instead of finding bread she comes upon “celestial food instead.” This is the first reference in the poem to another
body or force at work. She has stumbled upon something which is outside her confined world.

Stanza Two
In the sound stanza the speaker clarifies, at least somewhat, what it is she has found. The first thing she describes is
a noise “close at [her] ear.” It is “loud and wild” and seemingly filled with “wintry glee.”
The noise is a shock to her ears, but not an unpleasant one. She refers to the singer of the song as being an “old
unfailing chorister.” It is someone, or something, which is used to singing. It has honed its craft over many years but
still cannot resist breaking “out in pride of poetry.”
From her spot in the roof of the structure the speaker can see “Him.” He is “glorified” by his singing.

Stanza Three
In the third stanza the speaker describes how the source of the sound, which the reader will understand as a bird, is
“an arm’s-length from [her] eye.” While she might be extremely close to the bird it has yet to see her.
She is so close that she can see his “throbbing throat” and knows that it is the source of his “cry.” The speaker is also
able to see the bird’s
“breast” and how it is covered in “dew from the misty air,” as well as the “pointed tongue” inside its mouth.

Stanza Four
The speaker continues her description of the bird in the fourth stanza. She begins by focusing on the “large eye”
which is…

ringed with many a ray

Of minion feathers.
She is noticing the complexity of the bird’s colouring and feather patterns. They are “finely laid.” She also takes
note of the “feet” and their ability to “grasp the elder-spray” on which he is perching. The poet uses the rhyme
scheme to great effect in these lines when she writes, “The scale, the sinew, and the claw.”

Stanza Five
The fifth stanza is the final which focuses heavily on depicting the bird. She concludes her description by speaking
on the way the bird’s colors are all distinctive but eventually “Merge into russet.” The bird seems to sport…

Gold sequins, spots of chestnut, shower

Of silver, like a brindled flower.
It is not a simple stormcock any longer. It is so much more beautiful and complex.
Stanza Six
In the sixth stanza the speaker departs from her description of the bird to speak on its larger impact on the world.
She completes this task by first comparing the bird’s jovial nature to “northwest Jack.” This person is described as
being a “Soldier of fortune.”
Just like the bird, he does well and makes “so brave a show” in the coldest months of the year. He, and the mistle
thrush singing so close to the speaker’s face, are like “rich merchant[s] at a feast.”

Stanza Seven
In the final stanza the speaker concludes her narrative on a more somber note. Up until this point she has been
celebrating the beauty and resilience of the bird. She spent time on each part of its body, making sure the reader
understood how important it is to her, and should be to any who hears her words.
In these last lines she speaks on one’s inability to know all parts of the world. This is in an effort to interest a reader
in the fact that many more will never know the mistle thrush, than do. The speaker has spent her time glorifying the
bird, but time will move on and these thoughts will be forgotten.
She speaks to the reader and asks that “you” go ahead and “sing your song” and then go about your life. The speaker
hopes that any reading these lines will take some of the resilience and optimism of the stormcock into the future
colder months.

London Snow by Robert Bridges

‘London Snow’ by Robert Bridges is a twenty-seven line poem which is all contained within one block of text.
Bridges has chosen to give this poem a specific, and consistent rhyme scheme that only diverges from its pattern
every few lines. The poem begins with the end rhymes, ababcbcdc, the second set of lines ends with different words
but follows the same exact pattern. The rest of the poem continues in a similar form, with only one or two misplaced
words per stanza.
It is also important to note the repetition of general ending sounds that are used in the poem. Bridges has emphasized
the ‘ing’ sound in the first three sections. Even if all the words do not perfectly rhyme, they often create half or slant
rhymes. You can read the full poem here.

Summary of London Snow

‘London Snow’ by Robert Bridges describes an early morning snowfall in London and the reactions of those who
walk within it.
The poem begins with the speaker stating that it is snowing in the city, and since everyone is asleep, no one yet
knows. When finally the city begins to wake, all are quiet. No one wants to disturb the peace of these moments.
They all know it is fleeting and will not come again soon.
The narrator eventually flips the poem and begins to speak of himself in the first person. He becomes a character
that walks along the trees of London listening to the yelling of school boys, and enjoying their excitement over the
beauty of what they are seeing for the first time.
In the final section he describes the “brown” of humanity returning to the snow as the sombre men walk to their
workplaces. While it seems to be a depressing scene, in reality they are lighter in mind and heart than usual and do
find some pleasant diversion in the vastly changed landscape.
Analysis of London Snow
Lines 1-9
The first lines of this piece take the reader to a place that is at once familiar, but also magical. Immediately one is
placed in a position of knowledge as the subjects of the poem, the men and women of the city of London, are still
sleeping as the main action occurs. There is a snow falling over the city of which no one is yet aware, aside from the
narrator and the readers, of course.
The speaker describes the snow as if it has its own agency. It “came flying,” seemingly by choice, “In large white
flakes.” It has come to grace a city which is usually “brown.” The London of this era, just like many other cities,
then and now, was known for dank streets and dirty thoroughfares. Snow, in all its purity, seems out of place within
the “brown” muck of compressed humanity.
The poet continues to make use of anthropomorphism to describe the actions of the snow. It is gliding into the city
“Stealthily.” Its inherent quietness disturbs no one and guarantees a surprise when everyone is finally awake. The
streets begin to be covered by a layer of it, “hushing” the traffic of the still sleeping town. The wheels of the cars
make no noise as they pass over the snow.
Bridges uses a large number of verbs to describe the actions of the snow. They fall one after another creating a semi-
rhyming pattern within the lines of the poem. The flakes are “sifting,” “floating,” “drifting and sailing” to the

Lines 10-18
In the second set of lines the speaker continues to describe the path of the snow and how it came to the streets of
London that night. It continued to fall all through the night until it reached a “full…seven” inches. For London this
is a remarkable amount of snow, but it still manages to lay in “lightness” on the ground.

By the time the city is getting up, the clouds that created the snow are long gone. They “blew off” from the sky
leaving a clear view out over the newly white landscape. The light that this clearness creates brings everyone out of
bed earlier. All the people of the city are used to much darker mornings.
While to some, a snowfall might seem unimportant, to the people of London it is a marvellous feat. Everyone is
dazed by the “whiteness” and amazed by the silences of the streets as everyone contemplates the landscape. The city
has undergone a true transformation. There are no cars or carts on the street, and those who do venture out, do so
quietly. The “morning cries” are “thin and spare.” They are quiet and infrequent.

Lines 19-30
The next set of lines signal a change in the poem, the speaker introduces himself using the first person pronoun, “I.”
He has left his house, intent on walking through the newly made city. The narrative of the piece narrows down and
turns to focus on what the speaker can see from his perspective.
From where he is walking he can hear the “boys…calling.” They are on their way to school and stop to pick up and
taste the magical snow. It contains what he calls, “manna,” meaning something unexpected. The snow is a benefit
that no one was looking for.

The young boys are truly amazed by what they are seeing. So much so, they call to one another and express
particular fondness for the trees. It seems as if they have never seen snow before. Perhaps this is the first time it has
snowed since they were born.
There are only a few “carts” on the road and those which are there move along very quietly. Everyone is doing their
best to preserve the peace of the morning for as long as possible.
The sun has only just come up, but most of the city is already awake, due to the brightness of the snow. The light is
illuminating St. Paul’s Cathedral and spreading across the ground. It brings further glory to the landscape, but also
alludes to the fact that the snow will melt sooner rather than later.

Lines 31-37
In the final seven lines the speaker returns to focus on the moment he is living. The perfection of these few minutes
and hours begin to come to a close as all the working men are forced to carry on with their lives. As they leave their
homes a “war is waged with the snow.” They fight against it as they walk, in “trains of sombre men.”
The men are innumerable and serve as a stark remember of the reality of the city. They bring their humanity with
them, dirtying the snow as they go, returning it to the brown of the city.
The happier initial tone of the poem reasserts itself and the speaker looks into the minds of the men. They are not as
depressed as they usually are.The landscape is serving as a distraction that helps keep their minds, for a moment
anyway, off their realities.

Watching for Dolphins by David Constantine

‘Watching for Dolphins’ by David Constantine is a six stanza poem which is divided into sets of six lines, also
known as a sestet. These stanzas do not conform to single pattern of rhyming lines, but vary as the poem progresses.
In the first two stanzas the poet follows the general schemes of abacbd, and then with different ending sounds,
abcadd. The next stanzas diverge once more following the patterns of abacdd and aabcdc. The final two stanzas are
the most different of all with schemes of, abcdda and abcdef.
This varying pattern is created in an attempt to keep a reader on their toes. It does not allow one to slip into
complacency and easy expectation of what rhyming sound is to come next.
There are two place names in this piece which are important to know before beginning an analysis of the work,
“Piraeus” and “Aegean.” The second is the easiest to recognize and refers to the “Aegean” Sea which is located
between the mainlands of Greece and Turkey. The second place, “Piraeus,” is a little more unusual. It is a port city
in the Attica region of Greece and is the destination of the ship which serves as both a character and setting in
‘Watching For Dolphins‘. You can read the full poem here.

Summary of Watching for Dolphins

‘Watching for Dolphins’ by David Constantine describes the passage of a ship into port and the hope among its
passengers that they will spot dolphins on the journey.
This work describes the joys, disappointments, and ways of coping, that exist throughout ones life. From the
beginning to the end of the journey one will experience a number of different emotions, these are detailed by
Constantine through an experience on a passenger ship.
The poem begins with the passengers being drawn to the bow where they hope to see dolphins. They have all come
together at this point and speculate about what it will be like to see these animals jumping up and out of the water.
Before they know it they have returned to port having seen nothing.

Analysis of Watching for Dolphins

Stanza One
In the first stanza of this poem the speaker introduces the reader to an activity that he participates in on a regular
basis. This speaker is commonly on board a passenger ship or ferry which takes him and many other travellers to
“Piraeus.” For more information of “Piraeus,” see the Introduction.
The crossing on which the narrator embarks only occurs during the summer, but is common enough to where he
describes the movements of the passengers and ship fluidly and with great and convincing detail.

The following actions which he describes are ones that he sees on “every crossing.” This is an interesting detail as
the passengers, many of whom have surely been on this ship before, still yearn for the same things. Additionally, it
does not matter who the passengers are, or what class they prescribed to. All people, from all parts of the ship,
“From seats in the packed saloon,” move to the deck of the ship, up to the bow.
Everyone feels some of the same desire, to see dolphins. There is an element of wonder in this activity which
inhabits all the commuters for this short period. They do not consciously realize they are moving together with the
same purpose, but the narrator does. He has been on enough of these journeys and is able to keep track of where
everyone is. This raises the question of whether or not he still cares to see the dolphins.

Stanza Two
In the second stanza the narrator elaborates on the fact that this common goal forces all thoughts of one’s own life
and ambitions, temporarily, from one’s head. “Every other wish” that one might have, is “Turned…on the sea.” The
lovers who are sailing together replace their desire for one another with the desire to see dolphins.
The same goes for a “fat man” who is toting around “equipment to photograph the occasion.” The man came
prepared for this exact moment. He knew ahead of time that there was a chance he’d get to see dolphins on this
voyage. This was so important to him that he brought all of his photo equipment with him. He is, the speaker
describes, looking through “sad bi-focals.” His countenance appears to be downcast, or perhaps pathetic feeling to
the speaker. This is the first hint the reader gets that things may not turn out as everyone is hoping.
In the last two lines of this sestet the speaker shows another way that the commuters attempt to see the dolphins.
Some of them, those who have children, believe they are the best chance they have. They want to think that “if
anyone would” see dolphins it would be the young people.

Stanza Three
In the third stanza the people of the ship are all gathered. They are all gazing out into the water and wondering
amongst themselves whether a rough or “flat” and “calm” sea is more favourable. They are trying to convince
themselves that the elements, one way or another, predict their chances of seeing the dolphins. Gulls are also
discussed as an omen. They wonder whether they are a “sign, that fell / Screeching from the sky.” Does that mean
the dolphins are near?
It is clear that the passengers are quite restless. This one goal has overwhelmed all others, to the point that they are
unable to pull themselves way from the bow.

Stanza Four
In the fourth sestet the traveller’s faces are still set to the sea. Each in its own way is begging, or “implor[ing]” the
sea to make the dolphins show themselves. This is an action, and a way of being, which many of the commuters are
unprepared for. Many, the speaker states, are not used to wanting an “epiphany” or a moment of wonder and
realization. Usually life presents itself easily and without much effort, but in this case, what the passengers want is
completely beyond their control.
They do everything they can think of, including”Praying the sky would clang.” They want to experience a
reverberation going out along the Aegean, in the hopes that the animals will surface. This is the climax of the poem.
All the people on the deck are convinced they are going to see something and are ready to celebrate.
Stanza Five
The hope for a successful dolphin sighting continues into the fifth stanza in which the speaker describes how
everyone would act if they saw the animals in the water. They would observe the dolphins’ “snub-nosed” faces and
lift up the children in celebration.
Everyone would share in their mutual joy and wonder at the creatures. The ideal scenario would have the dolphins
leaving their element and jumping “three or four times” into the air and “Looping the keel.”
From that point the dolphins would be felt going “Further and further” into the depths of the ocean.

Stanza Six
This ideal scenario is not what happens though. Before the passengers realize what has happened, the ship is back
“among the great tankers,” edging toward port. They are sailing under the enormous chains that hold the ships in
place. The passengers have not seen any dolphins.
Everyone is suddenly awoken from the trance they were in and “blinking,” with down cast eyes, prepare to land in
the city. Everyone is deeply disappointed, but unwilling to admit it. Their previous joy seems childish now and they
dismiss it in an effort to rejoin their lives.

The Sea Eats the Land At Home by Kofi

The Sea Eats the Land at Home is a poem by Ghanaian poet Kofi Awoonor. The poem is four stanzas long of
varying line length. The first three stanzas are similar, four to five lines each. But the last stanza is eighteen lines
long, a drawn out conclusion to the poem. The poem has no rhyme scheme but does utilize a good amount of
repetition and personification. The sea is the main character in this piece and is described throughout as if it is
making considered choices.

Summary of The Sea Eats the Land At Home

This poem is a story of a simple town through which sweeps the anger of a personified sea. The sea eats up the town
and all the belongings of those that reside in it. The poem focuses on the general loss of the town but then zooms in
on two women who have different experiences with the loss they go through. One, Aku, has lost everything and is
left in the cold in what used to be her her kitchen, and Adena, who has lost the trinkets that were her dowry. The
poem concludes by saying that the sea that eats the land will eat anything, nothing is off limits. You can read the full
poem here.

The Sea Eats the Land At Home Analysis

First Stanza
The Sea Eats the Land at Home begins with a line that is as evocative as it’s title,
At home the sea is in the town,
Immediately this brings to the surface images of water running down streets and flooding houses. Perhaps it has
gone even farther than that and the town is more sea than streets and buildings. The reader is given more information
about the extent of the damage in the next line. The sea is said to be,
…running in and out of the cooking places,
One can assume that this is a reference to interior kitchens but also areas out of doors in which bonfires and cooking
fires are lit. This strange phrase, “cooking places,” supports this conclusion, if the “places” were only indoors they
would be called kitchens.
The firewood from the hearths of the “cooking places” is said to be collected up by the sea. It is at this point that the
personification begins. The sea does not sweep up, or wash away the wood, it is said to pick it up. As if the sea was
in possession of arms and hands capable of this motion. After collecting the wood the sea sends it back “at night.” It
has been washed away and then washes back in with the tide. The sea, personified once more, “sends” it back. This
first stanza is concluded with a repetition of the title line.

Second Stanza
The second stanza begins with the start of the story. How the sea came “one day at the dead of night.” Awoonor
writes this line as if it was a conscious choice made by the sea to come at night. The sea is given reasoning abilities,
it is portrayed as being sneaking, knowing when the residents of the town will be more vulnerable.

The sea destroys the cement walls, proof of its immense strength, and carries away the fowl. Their homes are
destroyed and their livestock is killed. The sea does not stop there but as it washes into the cooking places it takes
the pots and ladles too. Once more the title line is repeated at the conclusion of this stanza.

Third Stanza
The third stanza begins with a description of the emotion that comes with this kind of loss. The speaker describes the
sadness of the wails, and how the “mourning shouts “ of women can be heard. The speaker says these shouts are to
the gods to protect them,

…from the angry sea.

Again the sea is personified. It is given sentience and is said to be “angry.” But just as the motives of the sea are
impossible to determine, so too is the response of the gods. They do not come to the aid of this town, in fact, their
plight is only emphasized.

Fourth Stanza
The fourth and final stanza of this poem is more than twice the length of the other three. In it, a specific woman is
named, Aku. The description of how she was personally impacted by the “sea eat[ing] the land” forces the reader to
greater empathy with the town in general. Until now the town was just unnamed, but now it has a face.

Aku stood outside where her cooking-pot stood,

With her two children shivering from the cold,
She stands outside in the inclement weather, with no where else to go. She is standing in what was probably her
kitchen, a place that used to be symbolic of warmth and home, and is now part of the freezing sea. She is not alone
here though, she has the burden of two children to care for. She weeps with her hands on her chest for her home, and
for the future of her family.

She does not understand why this has happened to her, it seems to her that her,
…ancestors have neglected her,
They should be watching over her and her family but for some reason have allowed the sea to destroy her home. Her
gods, too, have abandoned her. She is spiritually alone.

The speaker then pans out from the situation and looks over the whole town once more and the reader receives some
additional context.

Once more the day is said to be cold. But we know now it is morning, perhaps only the morning right after the
storm, and it’s a Sunday.

The storm is described as “raging,” and the livestock is placed by the speaker in the water, they are struggling to
swim against the sea.

Once again the sea is personified, described as being angry, but now also cruel. As if it, on purpose, swept into this
town with the intention to destroy it.

The poem then turns to describing the water, how it is lapping against the shore and how its interior hum, its life
force and power, is stronger and louder than the sobs, and deep low moans of the townspeople.

The poem concludes with continued emphasis on what physically as lost. Another woman is named, Adena. She has
lost her dowry, much of which were “trinkets.” These trinkets are described as being her joy, turning the poem to a
rare glimpse of materialism. The last two lines describes,

…the sea that eats the land at home,

as eating the “whole land at home.” Nothing and no one is left untouched. Some lose trinkets, others lose entire
homes and lively hoods.

In Praise of Creation by Elizabeth Jennings

The speaker of this poem, In Praise of Creation, is in awe of creation. That much is quite obvious. However, the
speaker is deliberately vague about why nature is so inspiring and awesome, in the truest sense of the word. While
some attribute the order and detail of creation to a creator, others attribute it to chance. The fact that the speaker uses
the word “creation” in the title, suggests her belief that something or someone intelligent is behind the order and
wonder of nature. However, she does not delve into that aspect of creation with her poem. She simply stands in awe
of all that creation is, from the sky above, to the tiger, down the mating rituals of the birds. The speaker finds it all
unspeakably awe inspiring.

In Praise of Creation Analysis

Stanza 1
The speaker notices the small things in creation that have caused her to stand in awe of it. She has studied “that one
bird” and the “one star” for long enough to acknowledge that the beauty and wonder behind one tiny little bird is too
much for her mind to comprehend. She realizes that the light from one star travelling from millions of light years
away, is enough to cause her to stand in complete awe of the universe. She then refers to “the one flash of the tiger’s
eye”. She finds the tiger to be a specimen truly unique and fascinating. One flash of his eye reveals the intricate and
complicated nature of creation. The speaker claims that these parts of the earth and the universe “clearly assert what
they are”. She does not explicitly claim that they assert a creator. Nor does she deny one. Rather, she claims that the
bird, the star, and the tiger in themselves assert what they are, and by their very natures testify to what they are.
There need be no ceremony. Rather, they testify by simply doing what is in their nature for them to do.

Stanza 2
The speaker continues to explain the claims she implicitly made in the first stanza. She claims that what these
magnificent parts of creation testify to, is “order” and “rule”. This seems to give the implication that nature does not
lend itself well to the idea of it’s being there due to chance, but rather demands the idea of order and rule. She goes
on to explain that the way “the birds mate at one time only” and “how the sky is…full of birds” are all signs that
there is an incredible about of order and rule in creation. She is amazed at the changes of the moon, and the way that
it is “sometimes cut thinly” and other times is full. This indirectly reveals her awe at the way the universe is set up
so that the moon orbits the earth and the earth the sun in such a way that to the human eye, it seems that sometimes
the moon is “cut thin”. The fact that the birds mate at only one time also strikes the speaker fascinating. If mating is
something instinctual, why do the birds wait until a certain time of year? All of the speaker’s observations re-iterate
her awe at the order and rule that seems to exist in the universe, from the moon, to the birds in the sky, the speaker
marvels at the way the earth and universe function.

Stanza 3
With this stanza, the speaker finds it amazing that an animal as dangerous as a tiger comes with a visible warning
sign. She sees the tiger’s stripes as a type of cage, warning other animals of the dangerous nature of this beast. Yet,
though it is a dangerous animal, it still is “watchful over creation” as though it plays a very important role in the way
that nature functions. The speaker then describes the way the tiger rests and waits “for the blood to pound” and “the
drums to begin” The language used here reveals that something intense is about to happen, though the speaker does
not yet reveal what that is. She simply says that the tigress will cast a shadow.

Stanza 4
With this stanza, the speaker gives further detail concerning this event. She describes the way the shadow of the
tigress would fall over the tiger, and there would be “a passion” and “a scent”. It is clear now that the speaker is
referring the mating of the tiger and the tigress. In the midst of the mating of these two magnificent creatures, the
world seems to go “turning, turning”. This language, quite obviously, reflects that of William Butler Yeats in one of
his most famous poems, The Second Coming, in which Yeats seems to suggest that the world is spinning out of
control. The speaker in this poem, however, uses similar language to convey a meaning just the opposite. She seems
to see the world as maintaining order, and the mating of the two powerful beasts suggests not that the world is
spinning out of control, but rather that it continues to turn in uniform, as it was created to do, allowing the seasons to
change and time to go on. This, the speaker suggests, “sieves earth to its one sure element”. The speaker does not
directly reveal what this “one sure element” is, but the next line suggests that mating practices of all of creations’
beings are that “one sure element”. She claims that when the tiger and tigress meet for mating, “the blood beats
beyond reason”. This is an interesting line, because throughout the rest of the poem, the speaker seems to evaluate
creation, seeking reasoning behind the seeming order and rule of nature. However, here she admits that when it
comes to mating, the “blood beats beyond reason” and one simply cannot understand the nature of it.

Stanza 5
After the mating is done, the speaker describes the “quiet” and the way the “birds [are] folding their wings”. She
notices that after the few minutes of mating, “the new moon” still sits there, as it was, “waiting for years to be stared
at here”. Once the mating has taken place, “The season sinks to satisfied things” and leaves man, once again, “with
his mind ajar”. The speaker’s description of this mating reveals some parallels to what is likely personal experience,
and thus, a human sexual experience. The use of the word “man” at the end of the poem further suggests this view.
Thus far, man has not been mentioned in the poem. The speaker simply reflects upon nature and all of creation. At
the end of the poem, after her description of the mating of the tiger and tigress as something which is “beyond
reason” she mentions another human being whose mind is left “ajar”. This suggests the idea that even the instinctual
act of sexual intercourse with another human being is subject to order and rule, and that even though it is an act that
seems “beyond reason” it still leaves people with their minds open, pondering life, humanity, and creation just as the
speaker does throughout this poem.

Cetacean by Peter Reading

‘Cetacean’ by Peter Reading is a twenty-three line poem which is does not follow a particular rhyme scheme. The
piece has been written utilizing a variety of line lengths, ranging from thirteen words to four. This intrinsic element
of variety, as well as the initially random seeming line breaks, add to the visual and auditory interest. The title of
this piece is a word which is not common in every day speech, “cetacean” refers to a certain species of ocean
animal, such as a dolphin, whale or porpoise.
The individual verses often break in unexpected places where one would not naturally pause in their speech, this is
called enjambment and is used to draw attention to, speed up and slow down, certain elements of the poem.
Additionally, the poet has chosen to write using short choppy phrases within his long lines. A great example of this
is in the second line, “to observe Blue Whales-and we did, off the Farallones.”
One other aspect to note about ‘Cetacean’ is the way that Reading has chosen to construct the poem as more of a
narrative than lines of verse. The individual lines are longer than an average poem’s, and he has not put emphasis on
rhyme or meter. You can read the full poem here.

Summary of Cetacean
‘Cetacean’ by Peter Reading describes a speaker’s whale watching experience off the coast of California and the
overall grace of the blue whales he observed.
The poem begins with the speaker stating that it was on an early Sunday morning that he, and his companions, set
out to see the whales. They were intentionally going out to see blue whales and traveled to a set of islands off the
coast of California, the “Farallones.”
The speaker is successful in his quest and the rest of the poem is devoted to describing that experience. He
frequently takes note of the grace of their bodies, as well as their general mass. He is amazed by their movements,
and struck by the “diminutive” nature of their dorsal fins.
The whales dive back under the water, rolling through the waves, showing off all the markings of their bodies. The
display finally ends when they dive into the depths, leaving the narrator with the image of their “flukes,” or tail fins.

Analysis of Cetacean
Lines 1-8
The poem begins with the speaker describing the setting. Due to the format of Reading’s writing in this piece it
might take more than one reading to understand the first few lines. The words appear out-of-order, and the choppy
nature of the phrasing is quite unusual.
The speaker, and his unnamed companions, are setting off from San Francisco, early on a Sunday morning. They
have left behind “Fisherman’s Wharf” and are headed out to sea. These simple phrases are evocative and bring to
mind endless images of the tossing ocean and hardy sailors setting out on a great quest. Taken in tandem with the
title, one might assume that this is the beginning of a hunt.
The poem continues on to describe a closer element of the setting, the boat itself. As the speaker looks around he
knows that the “vessel” is “sixty-three feet” from the “bow to stern,” or front to back. The following line provides
more context as well as the reason for the trip. He and his companions are setting off in the hopes of seeing “Blue
Whales” off of “the Farallones,” a group of islands off the California coast.
The story is not about whether or not the speaker will see the whales though, as the following two words confirm.
He saw the whales as they came quite close to the boat. They were swimming and rising “slowly” from the water.
They breached at an angle and appeared as “grey as slate.” Their bodies were covered with “white mottling” and
compared to the overall size of their bodies, their “dorsal” fins were small.
In the final line of this section he states that their “broad flat heads” were impressively large. The speaker knows a
lot about these animals and relays, scientifically, to the reader that they were “one quarter their overall body-

Lines 9-17
In the next set of lines the speaker continues to describe the interaction he had with these blue whales off the coast
of California. After the whales had come to the surface they “blew” out water. These streaks were enormous, and
“straight and slim as upright columns..” They rose up to “thirty feet.” This is a fact that clearly impresses the
speaker. He sees these creatures as both beautiful and highly impressive.
In the next lines, the show is over. The whales descend back into the water and momentarily disappear. The poet is
trying to evoke a sense of loss— through his speaker he has described something wonderful, and then taken it away.
They were gone from the surface, but could still be seen rolling through the water. Their “backs” would “hove into”
the speaker’s view and he could tell that they were longer than “the vessel herself.”

Lines 18-23
In the final four lines the speaker brings the narrative of whale watching to a close. He has glimpsed the mass of the
whales, and has been impressed by their biological distinctiveness. He notes the fact that as they rolled he once more
caught sight of their “diminutive dorsals,” (an interesting use of “d” sound alliteration by the poet).
In the last two lines the whales departed from the scene entirely. They “arched” up their backs and their tails. The
speaker knows they are getting ready to dive. They do so, and the last thing he is able to see are their “flukes,” or tail
fins. One can easily imagine the grace of these movements and the true sense of loss that would be experienced
when the whales were truly and finally out of sight.

Coming by Phillip Larkin

‘Coming’ by Phillip Larkin is a nineteen line poem that can be separated into one set of nine lines and another set of
ten, or a straight forward analysis. Although there is no rhyme scheme in this piece, it is unified by the similar
lengths of the lines, as well as the blissfully peaceful tone that runs throughout the piece.
Starting with the first lines, Larkin crafts a narrative that seems to build towards something spectacular. It reaches
that place in the final line; it is a climax of unadulterated happiness and laughter.

Read the full poem here.

Summary of Coming
‘Coming’ by Phillip Larkin describes a culmination of blissful emotions within a speaker that are a result of the
soon to arrive season of spring.
The poem begins with the speaker stating that he is living within a world that is filled with a certain kind of
emotional physicality. This particular evening is a prime example. It is simply perfect, with the “Light,” the “chill,”
and the yellow color of the sky. It is a depiction of the sunset and all the resulting sights and sounds.
The world around the speaker is filled with the sound of a bird singing from within the garden. It is buried behind
layers and layers of laurel bushes but its voice emerges as pure and unadulterated as it could possibly be. The
speaker describes it as being “Fresh-peeled” as if it has never sung before. All of these elements are so strong that
they “astonish” and inflict a positive impact on the houses of the neighbourhood.
In the second half of the poem the speaker is looking forward in time. He sees the coming spring, and wishes,
through the use of repetition, for its swift arrival. The narrator continues on to state, using a long metaphor, that the
happiness he feels over the arrival of spring is comparable to that which a child feels who sees a reconciliation
between adults. He does not know why it makes him so giddy and blissfully happy, but it does.
The peace, joy, and promise of spring rubs off on this speaker and he is returned to a childish state of mind. He feeds
off of the season as a child feeds off the happiness of its parents.

Analysis of Coming
Lines 1-9
The speaker begins this piece by placing his narrative within a specific setting. The poem is based around two
interconnected elements of the speaker’s life, that of the setting, and of the emotions related to specific sites and
sounds. The speaker walks the reader through what is essentially an emotional landscape played out through images
of domesticity and natural beauty.
In the first lines the speaker informs the reader that there are certain evenings that are somewhat more special than
others. At these times, in which the air feels “Light, chill and yellow,” there is an inescapable serenity to the scene.
It is an element that doesn’t just exist in this world, but has bathed the surroundings. A “serene” feeling covers
everything in this place and is said to “Bathe” the front, or “foreheads” of the neighbouring houses.
Now that the basic emotional and physical context has been set, the speaker moves on to provide the reader with
some additional details that add to the scene.
In this place the narrator can hear a “thrush,” a commonly found small bird, singing in the laurel. It is “surrounded”
by the bush but its voice belts out of the garden. There is nothing to truly stop or obstruct the sounds it makes. The
notes are so pure they sound “fresh-peeled” as if they’ve never been sung before.
Larkin makes interesting use of personification when he describes how the emotional landscape touches the physical
space. The sound of the thrush is so arresting that the “brickwork” of the neighbourhood houses is said to be

Lines 10-19
In the second stanza the speaker turns away from the present moment to cast his mind into the future. He knows
what all these sights and sounds portend—spring is coming soon. Larkin has chosen to repeat this line twice. By
doing so, the phrase becomes a briefly recognized mantra. It has been said before, and will be said again, as if
speaking it will hurry the season.
For the first time in this piece the speaker refers to himself in the first person. While it might be tempting, one
should not assume that these memories belong to the writer himself, more supporting evidence would be needed to
support that claim.
Now speaking about himself, the narrator explains that he had a childhood that was unremarkable. It was filled with
boring days that were so un-noteworthy that he has all but forgotten them. He brings up his childhood in the effort to
create an impactful contrast when describing his following emotions.
With his listless youth in mind, he is experiencing the present moment as if he is once more a child and has come
upon “a scene / Of adult reconciling.” He imagines himself with the mind of a child, and feels as if he is witnessing
something that is good, but which he is incapable of fully understanding.
While one is young, the complexities of adult lives are far out of reach, and for this projecting narrator he feels, and
accepts that. He knows he will never be able to grasp what it is that makes spring, and its coming, so joyful.

In the final lines the speaker comes to the conclusion of the piece, as well as what could be considered the climax of
this short narrative. The emotions he is experiencing culminate in unstoppable laughter. He feels as if he is feeding
off the joy of the world, just as a child feeds off the joy expressed by a parent.

Afternoon with Irish Cows by Billy Collins

‘Afternoon with Irish Cows’ by Billy Collins is a five stanza poem that is separated into sections of seven lines. The
stanzas are not structured through any particular rhyme scheme, but each one does contain at least one complete
phrase. In all of the stanzas, expect for the second, the poet has chosen to stretch one sentence over all seven of the
lines. This forces the reader to complete an entire stanza before coming to the conclusion of the thought. You can
read the full poem here.

Summary of Afternoon with Irish Cows

‘Afternoon with Irish Cows’ by Billy Collins describes one speaker’s presumptions about the interior lives of cows
and the power that sound has over human understanding.
The poem begins with the speaker describing how he is able to see a cow field from his house, and the cows that live
in it, everyday. The field is more often than not filled with a “few dozen” cows which are there to greet him as he
comes and goes.
Sometimes though, they seem to disappear. One moment they are grazing happily, and the next they are gone. As
quickly as they disappeared, they return and are back to eating and lying on the ground “waiting for rain.” The
speaker does not see much use in being a cow, he is confused by their apparent patience and simplicity.
The next stanzas describe how he sometimes hears a horrifying sound coming from the fields. This “bellowing”
emerges from the “dark” depths of a female cow who, he realizes, is declaring her “cowness.” He sees the sound as
being the embodied essence of what it means to be a cow and is moved by the humanness of the moment.

Analysis of Afternoon with Irish Cows

Stanza One
Afternoon with Irish Cows begins with the speaker describing a particular location he is very familiar with. The
exact area of the speaker’s interest is not made clear, but using the information supplied in the title, and only that
which is spoken in the first line, the reader can come to a fairly clear conclusion about where the poem is taking
The first line describes the speaker seeing “a few dozen.” This enigmatic “dozen” is not defined any further for the
time being, and if one did not read the title, it would not be completely clear that the speaker is describing seeing
The cows are close to the speaker, so much so that he sees them everyday from where he lives. They are “across the
road” and he can observe them from the window of his house. This makes the animals a crucial and repetitive part
of the speaker’s everyday life. It would be unusual for him to walk out his door and not see these animals, a fact
which comes up in the following lines.
He continues on to describe how the cows spend the entire day, “stepping…from tuft to tuft.” Their lives seem
simple to him, and their appearance is summarized in this stanza through the size of their heads. Throughout the
poem the speaker gives a bit more detail, one line at a time, about what the cows look like. The trickling in of
context would slowly reveal to one unable to see the title, what the animal the speaker sees is.
The lines continue on, and the speakers describes how usually the cows are always there, but sometimes he looks out
the window and it is if they have “taken wing” and somehow managed to “fly off to another country.”
Many readers will be able to relate to this strange phenomenon, whether through bird watching, or other large
animals like horses and sheep. One moment the cows are there, and the next they seem to have vanished.

Stanza Two
The second stanza brings the reader further into the speaker’s day. It is later on in the same afternoon and he is
describing another moment where after seeing the field without cows, he looks out the “blue front door, “ and sees
that the field is “full of their munching.” They are back where they’re supposed to be, “lying down” on their sides.
They are doing no more than they were previously. Perhaps, the speaker thinks, they are “waiting for rain.”
The final two lines of this stanza describe how the speaker sees their interior lives. He is unable to penetrate their
thoughts and the only conclusion he can come to is that they are “patient and dumbfounded.” He sees them as being
incredibly quiet and “mysterious.”

Stanza Three
In an effort to make real the world of cows in which he is living, the speaker jumps to another moment of
observation that has to do with sound. Not only are they visual mysterious, they are also strange in the noises they

He describes how “every once in a while” he will be engaged in a simple task, like cutting up an apple, and suddenly
jump at a noise coming from the field. The sound seems to him to be one of intense pain. He imagines that a cow is
being killed or, “pierced through the side with a long spear.”
The speaker says that he often walks down to the field to check on the animals, just to make sure that none of them
are injured.

Stanza Four
The origin of the mysterious noise that the speaker heard and investigated in the third stanza is revealed in the
fourth. Once he has walked down to the fence surrounding his neighbour’s property, he sees “the noisy one.” It is a
female cow and she is “anchored” to the ground on “all fours.”
He states that “her neck” is stretched to its limit and she is “bellowing” to the sky. Her sounds are “full-bodied” and
seem to have originated from the “darkness of her belly.” The noise is simply the essence of cow. It is a “bellow”
strictly possessed by cows and expressed as only they can. It cannot, and should not, be understood by humans.

Stanza Five
In the final stanza of this piece the speaker continues to describe the sound that the cow made and his thoughts about
her during its aftermath. He no longer fears that the cow is in danger. Instead, he comes to the conclusion that she
“was only announcing…herself.” She was expressing her “unadulterated cowness.” The noise contains, as state
previously, all that it means to be a cow.
The noise represents more to the speaker than he initially thought. As he contemplates its depth, beauty, and
purpose, he sees it stretching beyond this particular cow to all of her kind. It expands along “all the green fields” and
up into “the gray clouds.” There is no force on earth, nor barrier, that can stop its progression.

In the final two lines the speaker is brought back to the reality of the moment, and shocked by wildness of the cow’s
expression. He now sees in this animal much more than he did previously. All it took for him to change his opinion
of the mental capacity of this creature was to look directly into her eyes and consider for a moment why she was
really doing what she was doing.