Rukhaya M.K

A Literary Companion

Category: Poetry (page 1 of 18)

Poetry Analysis: John Dryden’s “Mac Flecknoe”


John Dryden’s “Mac Flecknoe” or “A satyr upon the True-Blew-Protestant Poet, T.S” is a poem in the mock-heroic tradition.

Written in about 1678, “Mac Flecknoe” is the outcome of a series of disagreements between Thomas Shadwell and Dryden. Their quarrel blossomed from the following disagreements: “1) their different estimates of the genius of Ben Jonson, 2) the preference of Dryden for comedy of wit and repartee and of Shadwell, the chief disciple of Jonson, for humors comedy, 3) a sharp disagreement over the true purpose of comedy, 4) contention over the value of rhymed plays, and 5) plagiarism.”(Wikpedia)

Flecknoe comprehends that it is time for his departure as he has for long reigned over the realms of dullness beginning his tenure like Augustus at an early age. The first two lines are an ostentatious platitude on the transience of Life; how Fate eventually wins over the former. The only common aspect between Flecknoe and Augustus was that both of them began to rule young; the insignificance of Flecknoe is contrasted against the huge stature of Augustus, in keeping with the mock-heroic tradition. Flecknoe was indubitably the undisputed King of Dullness in the realms of prose and verse. He has produced a large number of dunces and now seriously contemplates over a successor.…

Poetry Analysis: Yeats’ “Easter, 1916”


Yeats‘ Easter, 1916  describes the poet’s sentiments concerning Easter Rising staged in Ireland against British rule on Easter Monday, April 24, 1916. The people who took part in Dublin in Easter 1916 were commonplace people whom he interacted with on a daily basis. He had quite often witnessed their sparkling faces, and traded greetings with them and shared humorous moments with them. The greeting comprised of “polite meaningless words.” As they continued to thrive in a world of bliss, such was the turn of events that it gave way to something appalling enough to comprehend. The sacrifices for the nation was commendable, but it was heart-rending that it did lead to their death.

Of a mocking tale or a gibe

To please a companion

Around the fire at the club

Being certain that they and I

But lived where motley is worn:

All changed, changed utterly:

A terrible beauty is born.

They thrived in a world where everything was a joke, and they functioned as clowns in such a set up. They indulged in mockeries and jibes just to please the other. And, now everything changes as if there was no reverting back to good times. Though they held vivid faces distinct from one another they were united in the common identity, and united in their thirst for freedom.…

Poetry Analysis: Tennyson’s “Ulysses”


Tennyson’s “Ulysses” is the first modern adaptation of the myth. Homer’s Odyssey lends the poem its narrative background. A closer look at the context through a detailed analysis follows.

Style and Form

Ulysses, by Alfred Lord Tennyson, was penned in blank verse. The poem’s persistent iambic pentameter has intervallic spondees. It slows down the pace and movement of the poem. Therefore, the laboring language reflects the stagnation that had set in the life of Ulysses. Some scholars consider Tennyson’s Ulysses to be a dramatic monologue. However, certain critics maintain that it is a soliloquy as it does not adhere to all the constraints of the dramatic monologue. It does not really become clear as to who the auditor is. At times, it comes across as a soliloquy and sometimes it appears as a public address. The poem was published in Tennyson’s second volume of Poems (1842).

Literary Context

In the eleventh book of The Odyssey, the prophet Tiresias predicts that Ulysses will go back to Ithaca after a tedious expedition. Subsequently, he would undertake a new, enigmatic voyage, and would later die a peaceful, “unwar-like” death that comes vaguely “from the sea”. At the end of Tennyson’s poem, the protagonist contemplates on embarking on this previously mentioned journey.…

Poetry Analysis: Gabriel Okara‘s “Once Upon a Time”


Gabriel Okara‘s “Once Upon a Time” has been published in the Edexcel GCSE anthology. In “Once Upon a Time”, Gabriel Okara speaks of a time when Africans were rooted in the simplicity of tradition and minimalism of sophistication; and how different they have turned out to be with the advent of colonialism. The very title “Once Upon a Time” points to a fairy tale existence long ago that is almost deemed unbelievable .

“Once Upon a Time” they used to laugh with their hearts and eyes in complete sincerity. The eyes are an indicator of the sincerity of a smile. Okara, here, portrays fake, unfelt smiles. A smile being the first greeting a person is received with: If the greeting itself is deceptive; the rest is to be regarded with great suspicion. “Once Upon a Time” they were children in the lap of nature. Though, now they have turned into processed products of pseudo modern existence. They now laugh mechanically with their teeth and ice-block cold eyes. The imagery of ‘ice-block cold eyes’ is suggestive of death and stagnation, and denotes lack of communication. Pictorial vehemence suggests the lurking hypocrisy.

The poet moves from expression to action.Now they shake hands ‘without hearts’ as their left hand probes the speakers’ pockets.…

Poetry Analysis: Thom Gunn’s “In Santa Maria del Popolo”


Thom Gunn’s “In Santa Maria del Popolo” explores the concept of annulled existentialism through religion. The poet lingers in the “The Church of St.Mary of the People’ to visualize the celebrated painting of the transformation of Saul(who later became St.Paul).The painting is by Caravaggio or Michelangelo who founded and established the Roman school of Painting which is profoundly coloured by naturalism ,and was far removed from the ideal. The painting is hazy, the image being Saul fallen from his horse. The rays of the evening lend life to the painting and enhances the theme of transformation. The image of Saul lying on the ground emerges and the face of Saul appears to be hidden. The focus of the painter is the lifted arms of Saul raised to God in submissive surrender.

Saul who appears in a seizure seems to be kinetic while the others around him stand static. The Renaissance period marked the flourishing of art. Nevertheless, there was also the predominance of religion that relegated art irreverently to the background.This explains the phrase the sun being ”Conveniently oblique;” and also the shadowing of the painting.

The speaker deliberates on how the painter left some details deliberately missing. For instance, Ananias baptizing Saul on his conversion, and the purging of his evils.…

Poetry Analysis: Thom Gunn’s “On the Move”


Thom Gunn’s “On the Move” is the opening poem in the collection The Sense of Movement. The poem is said to be “a sociological footnote of the nineteen fifties.” The motorcyclists had become emblematic of reckless vigor and aggressive energy in the East. The subtitle also functions as the epigraph emphasizing the need to keep going on, asserting the hyperactive strain and the kinetic energy that they embodied.

The bird with gay plumage is essentially from the crow family. Its “scuffling movements” exemplify the restless movements as it pursues some hidden purpose. The birds symbolize the motor cyclist–groups owing to their reckless energy and  their proclivityto thrive in communities. They hunt for the instinct that dwells within them or their poise, or rather they seek both. Some exhibit needless or pointless speed. Some put on display their uncontrollable animal instinct.

They arrive in motor-cycles as flies in the heat, their strides across the road appearing smooth. The term the Boy refers to how the motorcycle gang haunted lonely women with their unrestrained attitude, a superlative assertion of their notion of masculinity. The sound of the bikes as they travel in unison bugles to the sound of thunder. The bikes are in supreme control between their calf and thigh.…

Poetry Analysis: Dylan Thomas’ “After the Funeral”


Dylan Thomas’ “After the Funeral” is a tribute and elegy to Thomas’ aunt Ann Jones with whom he shared a deep bond. The death of Aunt Jones left a profound impact on the poet. The poem “Fern-Hill” commemorates the happy moments he spent on Aunt Jones’ farm. This particular poem stands apart from the other poems of Thomas: it is the only one that is associated with an individual while others deal with experiences or abstractions. The poem begins in the typical style of the elegy expressing contempt for the hypocritical mourners whose formal salutations of grief are depicted as “mule praises“ and “brays”. They appear like asses in their superficiality and shook they ass-like ears rendering the tragic situation a mockery. They walked “muffle-toed’ in keeping with the atmosphere of the funeral. ”Tap-tap” also refers to the sound of nails being hammered into the coffin. The phrase ‘tap happily’ implies how the people were secretly happy that the tap was not for meant for them. The phrase “thick grave’s foot” is utilized as a metaphor where the coffin is imagined to be the foot of the grave, for it serves the purpose of carrying dead bodies to their grave. ’Blinds down the lids’ refers to the shutting of the coffin.…

Poetry Analysis: R.Viswanathan’s “Grandfather”


“Grandfather” by R.Viswanathan is written to eulogize his grandfather who had an infectious joviality about him . The poem is about the death of the grandfather. However, it does not have a mournful tome or an elegiac tone. He is said to have laughed his way through life overcoming all trials and tribulations with ease. The alliteration in the phrase ‘lived long’ points to his harmonious life that was drunk to the lees. He made his folks laugh many times till all their bones broke.The speaker implies that his humour infused their very being and his buoyancy was the very core of their existence. Even while he was ill and the others around him were very pessimistic he inspired them with his incorrigible optimism and cracked jokes. Their bones broke but never did his spirit die. Though the speaker was not home during the incident, the experience was communicated to him with all the positive vibes intact. Therefore, grandfather transported his positivism to people at a distance also. The speaker was not home even when grandfather died, yet his still body seemed to laugh, according to the versions of others. His static body appeared to be kinetic.

The speaker comes home for Sanjayana to administer the last rites and goes with his Dad to the crematory.…

Poetry Analysis:Ted Hughes’s “Thrushes”


Ted Hughes’ “Thrushes” is one of his frequently anthologized poems. The poet is enamoured at the violent streak in the thrushes rather than their singing ability. He is amused at their ability to “stab”. They are by themselves ‘sleek’ or stylish. They are single-minded in purpose, and therefore very attentive. With their iron will, they come across as coils of steel rather than mundanely humane. The “dark deadly eye” foregrounds the scene fixed in its stare, and the poise they assume is indeed to be regarded. The fragile legs are triggered to stirrings beyond sense, that is, it is driven on instinct-“with a start, a bounce, a stab.” Swiftly according to impulse, they prey on the writhing thing. They indulge in no irresolution, no lethargy and no postponing; they are characterized by immense presence of mind.

No indolent procrastinations and no yawning states,

No sighs or head-scratchings

It just takes a rapacious second for this predatory being to satisfy ts urge.

Is it their single-mindedness characterized by their solid skulls, or their body that is inherently well-trained, or is it the undeterred genius, or the poet asks is it the “nestful of brats” or the lineage with the killer-instinct. The adjectives “bullet” and “automatic” exemplify how the act looks automated, mechanized and triggered.…

Poetry Analysis: W.H.Auden’s “The Unknown Citizen”


W.H. Auden’s “The Unknown Citizen” pertains to Auden’s middle period of creation. It was the time of authoritarianism in Europe, and amid dictatorship in the various countries in Europe, Man as a rational individual was losing his stance, distinctiveness and identity. The definition of the average citizen was confined to how well he conformed, how far he was predictable and how smoothly he rendered himself a cog in the wheel of society.

. The beginning of the poem in the passive voice is indicative of the citizen’s lack of initiative. The individual is paid a tribute by constructing a marble monument for him Just as, the Taj Mahal, ‘the poetry in marble’ was gifted by Shahjahan to his better-half Mumtaz Mahal. However, Mumtaz Mahal’s life was filled with blissful love. Here, the unknown citizen’s life is constrained by the dictums and doctrines of the state. The state is said to ‘construct’ him, as he is described, at the outset, in terms of statistics. Furthermore, he is acknowledged as ‘unknown’. Only his presence is acknowledged, not his individuality.

Subsequently he is attributed with certificates of conduct. ‘Saint’ is categorized as an old fashioned word that has lost the connotations that olden times gifted it with, in the modern day context.…

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