Rukhaya M.K

A Literary Companion

Category: British Literature (page 1 of 10)

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: 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: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.…

“Poetry Analysis Ted Hughes’ “The Howling of Wolves”


Like the poem ”The Song of a Rat,” the animal in Ted Hughes’ “The Howling of Wolves” is portrayed as a victim. They are victims of their own predatory nature, that has made them live like this according their wildest whims and inherent instincts. This impulse in them inexorably stresses on the theory of survival of the fittest without any qualms. They are therefore “without world” because their only consideration is their inner world. They assert themselves “on their long leashes of sound” that dissolve in mid-air silence. They make their presence felt through the silence of the nights. They have indeed a very keen sense of perception that is put on alert with the crying of a baby). This innocent instinctive cry of the baby is contrasted against the wild howlings.

They also detect very easily the tuning of a violin with their alert ears. The gentle sound is as fragile as an owl’s ear. The poet connotes more than he denotes here as an Owl’s range of audible sounds is different from most of the living beings. Its hearing ability is much more acute at certain frequencies that renders audible the slightest movement of their prey in leaves or undergrowth.

Poetry Analysis: Ted Hughes’ “The Casualty”


In Ted Hughes’s “The Casualty,” he portrays the domestication and commercialization of a tragedy. Farmers and housewives behold the plane crash with an air of indifference .They watched as if they encountered a fight between “a spider and a firefly.”The phrase “between the washing hung out” domesticates the larger scale of tragedy.”Far above the trees” indicates their standpoint: how they comprehend that they are far away from the domain of this disaster. They wait for the evening news with interest as yet another major tragedy is commercialized.

Fallen into a brambled or thorny ditch, the “suddenly smashed stems twitch.” This signifies the vegetation that is completely out of place or the human bones being smashed due to the accident. The pheasant, the hare and the wren respond with their respective reflux actions bewildered at this “unnatural occurrence. ‘The pheasant stands on the ruins in total astonishment. The hare that typically hops reluctantly and quizzically-thinking at every step; in response to the calamity frantically hops away flattening its ears without thinking twice. The wren goes about its duty of warning the others.

The response of people to the crash is elaborated upon in the subsequent paragraph. They “saw fall”, it was not only the fall of the plane, but the Fall of Man as well, where Nature won over science yet again.…

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