Briefs of the Poem
The poet describes life as something like sword that has two sides: good and bad.
Life in which there may be hope today but hopeless tomorrow; cheerfulness today but sadness tomorrow; laughter today but frown tomorrow.
Life is a mystery that no one can understand. The poet advises that all should be careful because if you have today, someone else will have tomorrow.
- Explain the central idea of the poem.
- What is the rhyming line of the last stanza?
- Write the rhyming scheme of the poem.
- Discuss briefly the rhyming patterns of the poem.
Knowledge Needed for the Analysis of Poems
Poetry as a piece of literary work, whether spoken or written, expresses and communicates thoughts, ideas, experiences, feelings and emotions beautifully by means of imagery, rhythm and sound. It is is usually written in verse with lyrical effects.
In order to achieve effect, a poet, chooses words that conveys meanings through their sounds and that also create images in the readers’ mind. Poetry has music, rhythm and rhyme.
That is words in a poem are arranged in lines, usually with a repeated rhythm, and sometimes with a rhyme in the end. The ideas in a poem are arranged into lines and stanzas.
To analyse a poem, a reader needs to understand how the poet uses words and sounds devices to create images and to bring out his meaning. Thus, the following elements which give poetry its uniqueness in language and meaning will be treated.
The following are major forms of poetry: narrative poetry, satirical poetry, dramatic poetry and lyrical poetry.
Features of poetry
- Poetry is written in verse, in the form of stanzas and lines.
- Poetry is metrical in arrangement.
- It is usually lyrical.
- It makes use of figurative language.
- It expresses thought, ideas and experiences sometimes in a concise form.
Types of poetry
- Ballad: the word ‘ballad’ is out of current use. The poem derives from village festival and is not often written but handed down orally from generation to generation, e.g. Ekun iyawo, Ijala Ode, etc.
- Epic: This poem narrates heroes and their deed , e, g Milton’s Paradise Lost, Soyinka’s idanre
- Elegy/Dirge: The poem of lamentation and a song of mourning and a sorrowful event such as the death of a bosom friend, Thomas Gray’s Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard
- Lyric: A poem to be sung to the lyre. It is sung during burial of the dead or during the marriage ceremonies, e.g. J. P. Clarks Streamside Exchange
- Ode: An ode is a written or spoken poem addressing somebody or something to mark a special occasion.
- Pastoral poem: this poem celebrates the lives of country and people.
- Narrative poem: This is a long poem that tells a story, e.g Samuel Coleridge’s The rhyme of the Ancient Mariner.
- Panegyrics/Eulogy: It is a praise poem dedicated to the glorification (praising) of the attributes or qualities of a person, an animal, a place or event and object.
Tools to consider in analyzing poems
- Stanzas/Rhymes: This is the division in the formal pattern of person. It could be two, three or more lines. Rhyme is the exact correspondence in sound or word-ending, usually at the end of the each poem. The arrangements of the stanzas should be considered. Learn how they are arranged below.
- A two-line stanza is known as a couplet
- A three-line stanza is known as triplet
- A four-line stanza is known as quatrain
- A five-line stanza is known as quintet
- A six-line stanza is known as a sestet
- A seven-line stanza is known as a septet
- An eight-line stanza is known as an octave
- Rhythm: This is a metrical movement determined between sounds and events.
- Tone/mood: These are feelings or state of mind of the poet. It is the frame of mind in which the poet was when composing his work.
- Atmosphere: This is the prevalent mood, feelings and thought of actions of people in a poem.
- Enjambment: This is also known as (run-on-line). It occurs when the ideas in a line of verse move from one line to join that follows it.
- Imagery: It is the use of words to form mental pictures. A poet could use words to draw a picture of situations whose ordinary words cannot convey effectively.
- Metre: This is the arrangement of the stressed and unstressed syllables in a poem to give a particular rhythmic effect.
- The content of the poem: The content is the main body of the poem and you should understand the message and subject matter.
- The structure of the poem: the structure of the poem is to be considered, such as stanzas, verses and lines.
- Language and style of the poem: The style, figures of speech and theme are to be considered. The style is the way the language is structured. It is the manner the poem is done. The theme is the central idea and the dominating pointing of the poem. The figures of the speech are simile, metaphor, personification, hyperbole, irony, euphemism, etc.