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Ideas and Questions for Discussion (Additional Task)


Inspired by what he had eye-witnessed during the Civil War in Spain, E. Hemingway wrote a series of stories, one of which was Old Man at the Bridge. What indications are there in the story that it is set in Spain during the Civil War?

Do the geographical names contribute to versimilitude?

What span of time does the story cover?

Is the evacuation drawn in development?

Is the setting described only in the exposition or does it accompany the main event of the story?

Does the setting gradually intensify the emotional strain?

What atmosphere does the setting create? How is it related to the message contained in the story?

What is the climax of the story? Does it reveal the old man's extreme despair?

What role does the denouement play in conveying the message?




What does the writer attain by a first-person narration?

What role does the narrator play in the story?

How reasonable would it be to call the narrator the author's mouthpiece?

Is it a one-scene story?

What form is it presented in: dramatic or pictorial, or both?

What speech forms does the author resort to? What does he gain by them? Does he manage to draw a vivid scene that the reader can visualize?

What emotions does the scene arouse? Is it related to the message?




1. What methods and means of characterization does the writer employ?

2. Are the characters real and convincing? Supply evidence to support your view.

3. Is the old man described economically and laconically? Would you call the word «dust» («dusty») an artistic detail? Or would you rather treat it as a symbol of disaster? Why, or why not?

4. Do the words «blankly», «tiredly», «dully» suggest implication?

5. What effect is achieved by the recurrence of the sentence «I was taking care of animals», and finally «I was only taking care of animals»?

6. What is implied in the sentence? Do you sense the man's utter distress and loneliness in it?

7. Does the repetition of this sentence and the word «dust» intensify the tragedy of the event described? Does it contribute to the message?

8. How is the old man singled out from among the others? What role does contrast play?

9. Is the main character-image related to the message?




1. What neutral words acquire expressive charge in the context of this story?

2. E. Hemingway's style is generally marked for its simplicity. How would you characterize the style in this story?

3. Is the language in accordance with the status of the narrator?

4. Is it the tone, or rather the subject matter that affects the reader emotionally? Supply evidence to support your choice.

5. Is the tone vigorous, excited, impartial or matter-of-fact? Find evidence in the text to support your view.

6. Does the narrator intend to establish an intimate relationship with the reader? Is that relevant in the story?

7. Comment on the phrases placed in the strong position,

8. What makes the end of the story sound ironic?




1. Is the message conveyed mainly by the image of the old man?

2. What makes the reader realize that the story is a protest against war?

3. Does the story lay stress on the fact that war is immoral, that it

4. is merciless to the old, the feeble and the helpless?

5. Are all the details in the plot, in the description of the old man and the setting subordinated to the message and serve to convey it?

6. Does the message penetrate all the elements of the story?

7. Is the story in keeping with Hemingway's principle of omission of all that is redundant?

8. Does the story afford an illustration of Hemingway's "iceberg principle"? What are the implications?

9. Formulate the message of the story.


LECTURE 4. Stylistic Peculiarities of Poetry


I. Rhythm and its characteristic features.

A. Metre and its types.

B. Number of feet.

C. The Stanza. Number of verse lines.

II. Rhyme.

A. Types of rhyme.

B. The functions of rhyme.

Prosody is a theory of poetry – the systematic study of versification, metrical structure, the rhythmic and intonational aspect of language.

Prosody (from Greek) is the rhythm, stress, and intonation of speech. Prosody may reflect the emotional state of a speaker; whether an utterance is a statement, a question, or a command; whether the speaker is being ironic or sarcastic; emphasis, contrast and focus; and other elements of language which may not be encoded by grammar.

Poetry can be analyzed as to its form and its content. Ideally, the two should reflect and reinforce each other in expressing the message of the poem. Form is seen in rhythm, metre, number of feet, number of lines, and rhyme.

I. Rhythm and its characteristic features. The flow of speech presents an alteration of stressed and unstressed elements. Rhythm exists in all spheres of human activity and assumes multifarious forms. It is a mighty weapon in stirring up emotions whatever its nature or origin, whether it is musical, mechanical or symmetrical as in architecture. The pattern of interchange of strong and week segments is called rhythm (Y.M.Skrebnev). Rhythm is a flow, procedure, characterized by basically regular recurrence of elements or features, as beat, or accent, in alternation with opposite or different elements or features. (Webster’s New World Dictionary). Rhythm is primarily a periodicity, which requires specification as to its type.

Rhythm reveals itself most conspicuously in music, dance and verse. In language it necessarily demands oppositions that alternate: long, short; stressed, unstressed; high, low, and other contrasting segments of speech. It is flexible and sometimes an effort is required to perceive it. If rises and falls occur periodically at equal intervals, the text is classified as poetry. On the other hand, if there is no regularity, no stable recurrence of stressed and unstressed segments, the text is an example of prose.

Blok’s opinion of rhythm: «The poet is not one who writes verses, but the barer of rhythm». As we know, verse has its origin in song, so the musical element has assumed a new form of existence – rhythm.

Rhythm has meaning – it intensifies and specifies emotions. It contributes to the general sense.

The most obvious rhythmical patterns in prose are based on the use of certain SDs: enumeration, repetition, parallel constructions and chiasmus. As the emotion becomes tenser, the rhythmical beat shows itself more evidently:

«…there passed the thought confused and difficulty grasped that he had only heard her use it,…» (S. Maugham. The Painted Veil).

/ ─│/ ─│/ ─│/ ─│//│/ ─│//│/ ─│/ ─│/ ─│/,

Where / represents an unstressed syllable, ─ a stressed one, │means a pause.

Almost any piece of prose, though in essence arhythmical, can be made rhythmical by isolating words or sequences of words and making pauses between each.

A. Metre and its types. The smallest recurrent segment of the line, consisting of one stressed syllable and one or two unstressed ones is called foot. The structure of the foot determines the metre, i.e the type of poetic rhythm of the line. In classical verse rhythm is perceived at the background of the metre. Rhythm in verse as a SD is defined as a combination of the ideal metrical scheme and the variations of it, which are governed by the standard.

Metre is any form of periodicity in verse, its kind being determined by the character and number of constitutuent syllables (V.M. Žirmunsky). In accented verse rhythm manifests itself in the number of stresses in a line, and in prose by the alternation of similar syntactical patterns. The metre is a strict regularity, consistency and unchangeability.

English has stressed and unstressed syllables. English is considered a stress-timedlanguage. In poetry, stressed and unstressed syllables are often put together in specific patterns. In poetry these patterns are called meter, which means 'measure'. The meters you find in poetry are the same ones we use in everyday speech. The main difference is that in speech these patterns tend to occur spontaneously and without any special order; in poetry they are usually carefully chosen and arranged.

Types of metres. There are 5 possible combinations of stressed and unstressed syllables – two disyllabic varieties of feet and three trisyllabic ones. Disyllabic metres are called trochee and iambus, trisyllabic are dactyl, amphibrach and anapest.

Disyllabic metres.

1. Trochee (Gk. trochaios 'running'). The foot consists of two syllables; the first is tressed: / _ . Disyllabic words with the first syllable stressed demonstrate the trochaic metre: duty, evening, honey, trochee, etc.

2. Iambus (Gk iambos a pre-Hellenic word). Two syllables, where the first is unstressed _ / . E.g. mistake, prepare, enjoy, behind, etc.

Trisyllabic metres.

3. Dactyl (Gk. daktylos 'finger' with one long, two short joints). The stress is upon the first syllable; the subsequent two are unstressed: / _ _. E.g. wonderful, beautiful, certainly, dignity, etc.

4. Amphibrach. The stress falls on the second (medial) syllable of the foot, the first and the last are unstressed, _ / _ , e.g.: returning, continue, pretending, etc.

5. Anapest (Gk. ana 'back' + paiein 'to strike', i.e., a reversed dactyl). The third (last) syllable is stressed _ _ /, e.g.: understand, disagree, interfere, etc.

There are still other meters, but these are mostly from Greek and Latin poetry (spondaic (spondee; Gk sponde 'solemn libation', which was accompanied by a solemn melody) and consists of two consecutive long, stressed syllables:/ /; and pyrrhic (from a word for an ancient Greek war dance); this is a metrical foot having two short or unstressed syllables _ _), and they are not applicable to English poetry. Often the same rhythm will not be used throughout a whole poem, or even a whole line; there may be an extra beat here, one omitted there; or the meter may simply change. Poets often seem to establish a regular pattern, but then put in something 'unexpected' to startle the reader, or to achieve some special effect.

B. Number of feet. Each group of symbols containing just one long, stressed syllable / is called a foot, and counting the number of feet is one way of determining the length of a line of poetry. The metrical characteristics of a verse line depend on the number of feet in it. Here are the literary terms for each line length as regards number of feet, e.g. trochaic lines:

monometer one foot /-;

dimeter two feet /-/-;

trimeter three feet /-/-/-;

tetrameter four feet /-/-/-/-;

pentameter five feet /-/-/-/-/-;

hexameter; six feet /-/-/-/-/-/-;

heptameter seven feet /-/-/-/-/-/-/-.

The number rarely exceeds eight. In some English poetry the metre is irregular. Feet may also be hypometric (incomplete), as /-/-/ or hypermetric (with superfluous syllables), as /-/-/--.

e.g.: …And the dawn comes up like thunder

On the road to Mandalay. (R. Kipling).

--/---/-|--/---/ Anapestic dimeter hypermetric in the second foot.

If not only the number of feet in a line is irregular, but also the quality is varied, we can call it free verse.

C. The Stanza. Number of verse lines. Two or more verse lines make a stanza (also called a strophe). It is the largest unit in verse. It is a verse segment composed of a number of lines having a definite measure and rhyming system which is repeated throughout the poem.

The number of lines may be a clue that a poem belongs to a special verse form, for example, a sonnet, a limerick, which normally has five lines. A poem or stanza with one line is called a monostich, one with two lines is a couplet; with three, tercet or triplet; four, quatrain. six, hexastich; seven, heptastich; eight, octave.

E.g. of a limerick:

There was a young lady of Niger

Who rode on the back of a tiger

They came back from the ride

With the lady inside

And a smile on the face of the tiger.

II. Rhyme.Rhyme is the repetition of identical or similar terminal sound combination of words. Rhyming words are generally placed at a regular distance from each other. In verse they are usually placed at the end of the corresponding lines. Identity and similarity of sound combinations may be relative.

A. Types of rhyme.

We distinguish between:

a) complete/exact/full/identical rhymes (might-right) and incomplete/slant/half/ approximate/imperfect/near/oblique. The first provides an approximation of the sound: cat, cot; hope, cup; defeated, impeded. rhymes (vowel – flesh-fresh-press; consonant – worth-forth), and eye-rhyme (love-prove, Niger-tiger). The full rhyme repeats end sounds precisely, e.g. cap, map; rhymes.

Incomplete rhymes can be divided into two main groups: vowel rhymes and consonant rhymes. In vowel-rhymes the vowels of the syllables in corresponding words are identical, but the consonants may be different as in flesh – fresh – press. Consonant rhymes, on the contrary, show concordance in consonants and disparity in vowels, as in worth – forth, tale – tool – treble – trouble; flung – long.

Eye rhyme looks as though it should rhyme, but does not, e.g. great, meat; proved, loved.

b) single (masculine)–double(feminine) – apocopated – triple.The first ends up with a stressed syllable, another includes two syllables, of which only the first is stressed. Apocopated rhyme pairs a masculine and feminine ending, rhyming on the stress: cope, hopeless; kind, finder. The third involvesthree syllables with two unstressed (dactylic) syllables after a stressed one, e.g.: dreams-streams; duty-beauty; tenderly-slenderly.

c) simple (eye-rhyme)-compound (mosaic). Modifications in rhyming sometimes go so far as to make one word rhyme with a combination of words; or two or even three words rhyme with a corresponding two or three words, as in «upon her honour – won her», «bottom – forgot them – shot him». Such rhymes are called compound or broken. The peculiarity of rhymes of this type is that the combination of words is made to sound like one word – a device which inevitably gives a colloquial and sometimes a humorous touch to the utterance. Compound rhyme may be set against what is called eye – rhyme, where the letters and not the sounds are identical, as in love – prove, flood – brood. It follows that compound rhyme is perceived in reading aloud, eye – rhyme can only be perceived in the written verse.

According to the way the rhymes are arranged within a stanza, certain models have crystallized:

1. couplets – the last words of two successive lines are rhymed – aa;

2. triple rhymes – aaa;

3. cross rhymes – abab;

4. framing/ring rhymes – abba.

There is still another variety of rhyme – internal, which breaks the line into two distinct parts consolidating the ideas expressed in them.

B.The functions of rhyme.

Thefunctions of rhyme are essentially four: pleasurable, mnemonic, structuralandrhetorical. Like meter andfigurative language, rhyme provides a pleasure derived from fulfillment of a basic human desire to see similarity in dissimilarity, likeness with a difference. As a mnemonic aid, it couples lines and thoughts, imprinting poems and passages on the mind in a manner that assists later recovery. As a structural device, it helps to define line ends and establishes the patterns of couple, quatrain, stanza, ballad, sonnet, and other poetic units and forms. As a rhetorical device, it helps the poet to shape the poem and the reader to understand it. Because rhyme links sound, it also links thought, pulling the reader's mind back from the new word to the word that preceded it.


They distinguish between prosodic functions (what the prosody does) and prosodic forms (what the prosody is).

The functions of prosody are many and fascinating. Where speech-sounds such as vowels and consonants function mainly to provide an indication of the identity of words and the regional variety of the speaker, prosody can indicate syntax, turn-taking in conversational interactions, types of utterance such as questions and statements, and people's attitudes and feelings. They can also indicate word-identity (although only occasionally, in English).

The forms (or elements) of prosody are derived from the acoustic characteristics of speech. They include the pitch or frequency, the length or duration, and the loudness or intensity. All these forms are present in varying quantities in every spoken utterance. The varying quantities help determine the function to which listeners orient themselves in interpreting the utterance. The screens in the tutorials on prosodic forms are designed to attune your ear to these varying degrees of presence.





I wandered lonely as a cloud

That floats on high o'er vales and hills,

When all at once I saw a crowd,

A host, of golden daffodils.

Beside the lake, beneath the trees,

Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.


Continuous as the stars that shine

And twinkle on the Milky Way,

They stretched in never-ending line

Along the margin of a bay:

Ten thousand saw I at a glance

Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced, but they

Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:

A poet could not but be gay

In such a jocund company!

I gazed – and gazed – but little thought

What wealth the show to me had brought:


For oft, when on my couch I lie

In vacant or in pensive mood,

They flash upon that inward eye

Which is the bliss of solitude;

And then my heart with pleasure fills,

And dances with the daffodils.


1. Analyse the rhythmical arrangement and rhymes of the poem.

2. Find in the text cases of alliteration and assonance. Dwell on the stylistic use of the examples found.

3. Find examples of paronomasia. What is the stylistic effect produced by them?

4. Comment on the contextual meanings of the metaphor "dance" (and "dancing") in the poem and its stylistic function.

5. Speak on the epithets and metaphors used to describe flowers in the poem.

6. Speak on the SDs employed to characterize the state of mind of the poet.

7. Summing up the analysis say what SDs are used to describe nature and what is the poet's attitude to it.




1. That time of year thou mayst in me behold

2. When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang

3. Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,

4. Bare ruin'd choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.

5. In me thou see'st the twilight of such day

6. As after sunset fadeth in the west,

7. Which by and by black night doth take away,

8. Death's second self, that seals up all in rest.

9. In me thou see'st the glowing of such fire

10. That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,

11. As the death-bed whereon it must expire

12. Consumed with that which it was nourish'd by.

13. This thou perceivest, which makes thy love more strong

14. To love that well which thou must leave ere long.



1. Read the sonnet and be ready to translate and paraphrase any part of it.

2. Speak on the structure of the sonnet.

3. Speak on the idea of the sonnet and on the images the poet resorts to in describing his decline.

4. Comment on the implication in the phrase «consumed with that which it was nourish'd by». Note the contrast between the words «to consume» and «to nourish», which are contextual antonyms here.

5. Discuss the thought expressed in the epigrammatic lines of the sonnet.

6. Comment on the following assertion made by a critic that «Shakespeare thought in terms of metaphors».

7. Discuss the use of metaphors in the sonnet. Use the following questions as a guide: a) What kinds of metaphors are used in the sonnet? b) From where does the poet draw his metaphors? c) What idea is revealed through the metaphors employed in the sonnet?

8. Pick out the cases where periphrasis is used, and comment on them.

9. State what SDs are used in the poet's description of night (lines 7,8) and comment on them.

10. Pick out the archaic words and forms which occur in the sonnet and explain use there.

11. State what syntactical SD is used in the first line of the sonnet, find similar cases (lines 5, 9, 13) and comment on them.

12. Pick out cases of parallelism and discuss the function of this SD in the sonnet.

13. Note deviations from the conventional rhythmical pattern (in line 8) and comment on them.

14. Discuss the possible use of a modifier of rhythm (spondee) in line 14: 'To love that well which thou must leave ere long".

15. Summing up the analysis of the sonnet speak on its message and the main SDs used by the poet to achieve the desired effect.





When the lamp is shattered

The light in the dust lies dead –

When the cloud is scattered

The rainbow's glory is shed.

When the lute is broken,

Sweet tones are remembered not;

When the lips have spoken,

Loved accents are soon forgot.


As music and splendor

Survive not the lamp and the lute,

The heart's echoes render

No song when the spirit is mute: –

No song but sad dirges,

Like the wind through a ruined cell,

Or the mournful surges

That ring the dead seaman's knell.


When hearts have once mingled

Love first leaves the well-built nest;

The weak one is singled

To endure what it once possessed.

О Love! who bewailest

The frailty of all things here,

Why choose you the frailest

For your cradle, your home, and your bier?


Its passions will rock thee

As the storms rock the ravens on high;

Bright reason will mock thee,

Like the sun from a wintry sky.

From thy nest every rafter

Will rot, and thine eagle home

Leave thee naked to laughter,

When leaves fall and cold winds come.



This is one of Shelley's most tragic lyrics voicing his reflections on the mutability and evanescence of love. According to the poet, it is the weaker natures that are more constant in their affections and therefore suffer more. The pain and heartache of love no longer requited sharpen all other sensations – among them perception of outward things – and make poetically inclined minds project them­selves on their surroundings tinging these with their own emotions.

This process of pain-sharpened perception is here rendered with an amazing concreteness of poetic vision. The very first lines are a bold blend of direct and indirect meaning. A common phenomenon is observed, but it is peculiarly worded: instead of the commonplace word «broken» used in connection with ordinary things, such as lamps, Shelley puts «shattered», with its connotations of catastrophic events, frequently applied to the sphere of emotions (as, for instance, «shattered life»):


When the lamp is shattered

The light in the dust lies dead.


This, of course, is a metaphor based on the vividness of physical sensation: the lamp is broken – it is in the dust – it is the light that is broken and lies in the dust – the light has gone out – it is dead. This train of thought is condensed in the above quoted metaphor. The dead light is at the same time a symbol of dead hope and lost happiness.

Another exquisite metaphor is «the rainbow's glory is shed». To shed means 'to drop, to let fall' (e. g. to shed tears, to shed leaves; thence Shelley's to shed glory). Perhaps the use of shed in connection with the rainbow is justified by the idea that the rainbow dissolves in rain, and its splendour is literally «shed». But this, even if true, is no more than a remote association, and the expression is figurative. The next two statements are more or less literal, with the exception of «sweet tones» and «loved accents» (the latter instead of the more ordinary «voice»). But along with the two previous statements they are effective, because by the end of the 1st stanza Shelley has dwelt upon light, colour, sound and touch and has linked them all by symmetry in meaning and rhythm. The impression of unity and completeness arises because different senses have been appealed to. This is in the spirit of romantic syncretism of imagery which, it is supposed, should act on all senses. It is only in the 2nd stanza we come to realize the full impact of the imagery concentrated in the 1st – that imagery is bound up with the simile which brings out the main idea, that all feeling is finite and leaves behind nothing but deep sadness:

As music and splendor

Survive not the lamp and the lute,

The heart's echoes render

No song when the spirit is mute.

The abstractions of music and splendour that sum up, as it were, the light, rainbow, lute and voice of the 1st stanza are given poetic life by the verb to survive: since they can (or cannot, as may happen) survive, – this means they are, or may be, living realities. Within this simile metaphor jostles metaphor, so to speak: the heart's echoes" (that is, the remains of past love) which «render no song», «the mute spirit» – all these metaphors are further developed: there is no song to come from a mute spirit («No song but sad dirges»). This is followed by a new outburst of similes, the sad dirges are likened to wind passing through a ruined cell and to the sorrowful sound of sea-waves. These auditory images are musically expressed by delicate orchestration of n and m:


No song when the spirit is mute: —

No song but sad dirges,

Like the wind through a ruined cell,

Or the mournful surges

That ring the dead seaman's knell.


The sad passing of love is expressed metaphorically in the 3rd and 4th stanzas in their resolute breach with the hard and fast logic of common sense: the hearts that «mingle» – a metaphor that would certainly be rejected by the classics, the comparison of a strong heart to the well-built nest of love, lines that do not lend themselves to ordinary paraphrase but must be interpreted (as, for instance, the lines «The weak one is singled / To endure what it once possessed», which seems to mean that the weaker heart of the two must be resigned to bear stoically and to still cherish the memory of what had been happiness before) – were certainly new in the poetry of the period. Blake had written things like that – but who ever read him then? So had Coleridge, in a way, but his inspiration soon ran dry, and he left behind only a small body of verse.

The evolution of love is condensed in three images rendering its birth, life and death (cradle, home, and bier). The despair and helpless misery of the forsaken lover is made clear by a string of rare and striking similes, all associated with high altitudes and the cruel cold inevitable high up above the earth, with storms tossing the ravens (as likely as not the association is caused by the nest mentioned in the preceding stanzas, and Shelley was thinking of ravens' nests shaken by north winds and thence about the birds themselves), with the cold beams of the sun, with the rotting nest of love set up eagle-high and pitifully crumbling to pieces.

The climax of the stanza and, probably, of the poem as well, is the profoundly illogical metaphor «leave thee naked to laughter». The literal meaning seems to be 'leave thee naked to be laughed at', but the way Shelley has it points to a figurative meaning – helpless, defenseless before the cruel laughter of others. Bringing together these words from entirely different and logically disconnected planes is a way of depicting broken-down defenses and utter desolation in the most powerful and dramatic manner. The juxtaposition of the lofty «eagle home» and the miserable nakedness exposed to the wintry suns and cold winds, is most poignant.

The poetic illogicality of meaning is seconded by the illogicality of the grammatic structure:


From thy nest every rafter

Will rot, and thine eagle home

Leave thee naked to laughter...


Here the absence of will before leave makes for a certain difficulty. The same grammatical lapse can be observed in the 2nd stanza, where in the line «Like the wind through a ruined cell» the words that passes (or that sounds, or that blows) are omitted.

Those hurried skippings over words logically necessary further the impression of the unbearable emotional strain that is created by accretion of the boldest imagery expressive of destruction, decay and disaster (shattered lamp, light dead in the dust, shed glory of rainbow, broken lute, mule spirit, ruined cell, dead seaman, bier of love, storm-rocked ravens, wintry sky, rotting rafters, falling leaves, cold wind).

The high concentration of images does not impress one as being artificial because they seem to flow quite naturally. It is the easier to believe in that spontaneousness on account of the logical lapses mentioned above and still more on account of the simple, unaffected colloquial intonation of the whole poem.

The metrical stresses coincide with the stresses that would fall on the same words in ordinary speech. This is the case in 21 out of the 32 lines of the poem; this gives it an easy and natural flow. In the remaining 11 lines, where that natural flow is impeded by repeated heavy spondees, the weakening of the metrical scheme has the effect of utter freedom of versification, of freedom from the shackles of verse and of spontaneous feeling breaking through metrical restrictions. As a matter of fact, this occurs in one line of the 1st, descriptive and restrained, stanza, in the most emotionally laden line, by the way: «Loved accents | are soon | forgot». In ordinary speech we would stress: È| È .Now the metre requires no stress on loved, i.e. È |ÈÈ . The same is repeated in two lines of the 2nd arid 3rd stanzas (the third and eighth lines of the 2nd stanza, the second and fifth lines of the 3rd) and in six lines (all but the first and fourth) of the last and most intensely tragic stanza.

The natural intonation of a spoken confession, painful and passionate, is kept up by Shelley observing the direct and ordinary word-order. The exceptions are «Sweet tones are remembered not», «Music and splendour survive not the lamp and the lute» and «Why choose you the frailest?» Two of them are due to omission of the auxiliary verb do in negative and interrogative sentences, which is common in old ballads and songs and does not sound bookish or artificial. The only inversion proprement dite is the one in the final stanza:


From thy nest every rafter

Will rot...


But in this case it agrees well with the general feeling of disrup­tion, of shattered life and hope and with the strongest shift in metre, as has been demonstrated above. The inverted word-order seems therefore natural here. The spontaneous quality of Shelley's poetry is, as has been pointed out, largely due to his versification. In the present poem it is as daring as ever.

Each of the four stanzas consists of two quatrains, with the rhyme-system ababcdcd, with feminine and masculine rhymes in strict alternation. Each line is composed of a complex pattern of iambic and anapaest lines, the metrical scheme very loose and entirely original, more free even than that adopted by Coleridge. Shelley varies the number of syllables. Thus, in the first and third-lines of all stanzas the number of syllables is uniformly six, the only exception being the last quatrain of the last stanza where it is seven. In the second and fourth lines the number of syllables varies from seven in the 1st stanza to eight and seven in the 2nd, from seven, eight and nine in the 3rd to nine, eight and seven in the 4th. The number of stresses is fairly uniform, namely two stresses in the first and third lines, and three stresses in the second and fourth lines – with the exception of the above mentioned eleven lines where extra stresses, spondees, appear when required by the intonation of the spoken language.

If the total number of syllables and of stresses is with obvious deviations adhered to throughout the poem, the distribution and interaction of stressed and unstressed syllables vary freely from stanza to stanza and, one might almost say, from line to line. Only in four cases out of sixteen (namely in the first and third lines of both quatrains of the 1st and 3rd stanzas) is the interrelation of stressed and unstressed syllables the same. But it is never the same in second and fourth lines of any stanza.

Together with the strict observance of the alternation of masculine and feminine rhymes, one might be justified in saying that there is enough uniformity to give the impression of metrical structure, of a rhythmical and melodious pattern – and enough variety for a sense of unfettered motion.

To sum up the comments to both texts, it should be pointed out that in Shelley's poetry the romantic revolt against things established, against set social laws, against hard and fast lines regulating matters of conscience, opinion and taste reaches its highest peak. His are a readiness to sacrifice self in the service of a great human purpose, a nobility and refinement of feeling, a daring of idea, expression and verse that have not been surpassed in English poetry. He might truly be called the Prometheus of his century.





The quarrel of the sparrows in the eaves,

The full round moon and the star-laden sky,

And' the loud song of the ever singing leaves,

Had hid away earth's old and weary cry.


And then you came with those red mournful lips,

And with you came the whole of the world's tear's,

And all the trouble of her labouring ships,

And all the trouble of her myriad years.


And now the sparrows warring in the eaves,

The curd-pale moon, the white stars in the sky,

And the loud chanting of the unquiet leaves,

Are shaken with earth's old and weary cry.




Why should I blame her that she filled my days

With misery, or that she would of late

Have taught to ignorant men most violent ways,

Or hurled the little streets upon the great,


Had they but courage equal to desire?

What could have made her peaceful with a mind

That nobleness made simple as a fire,

With beauty like a tightened bow, a kind


That is not natural in an age like this,

Being high and solitary and most stern?

Why, what could she have done, being what she is?

Was there another Troy for her to burn?



The first poem is characteristic of Yeats's earlier, though not, perhaps, his earliest manner. It is original in thought and design, even if it begins traditionally, with the escapist note fairly strong in the insistence on oblivion to reality for the sake of the beauty of nature. But while tradition demands that love should be a healing power, one to ensure forgetfulness of all that is foreign to it, with Yeats it seems to call for a return to painful reality: the sorrows of love are used with the sorrow of the whole world. All that had seemed secure from the misery of men now appears to be affected by that misery.

All the elements of the opening stanzas that stood for the unreflecting serenity of nature – even its small discords, such as the quarrel of the sparrows – are evoked in the closing stanza again, only to be treated as reminders of the inherent sadness of life Sparrows, moon, stars, sky, leaves are all there again, but with a difference: the «full round moon» becomes «curd-pale» (an image highly characteristic of the whimsical style of the esthetic school of poetry), the stars turn white, the song of leaves is unquiet and the quarrel of the sparrows grows into a war. What was full, loud, weighty (not for nothing was the sky «star-laden»!) is now subdued, toned down: the song is a mere chaunt, the epithets are somewhat sickly («pale» and «white», the latter very unusual in connection with stars). The despair of the poet transforms the more ordinary meaning of this symbol and turns it into a symbol of unrest. The final metaphorical verb – «are shaken (with earth's old and weary cry)» – goes very far in colouring the whole stanza: the notion of the sparrows, moon, stars and leaves as shaken by the cry of the earth gives the poem an unexpectedly tragic pitch entirely lacking in the first two stanzas.

The substitution of this one word «shaken» for the «hid» of the first stanza makes more difference than all the other alterations introduced in the last stanza. One should also note the stylistic function of tenses: the Past Perfect in the first, the Past Indefinite in the second and the Present Indefinite in the last, contrasting the state of things preceding the arrival of the loved one and things as they are now, the Present tense giving the last stanza an urgency not to be denied.

The poignancy and immediacy of the final stanza are prepared by the central stanza in which the girl's arrival suggests to the poet «the whole of the world's tears» – the enormity of the hyperbole being toned down by the simple colloquial phrase «the whole of», and the striking combination of the concrete verb «came» with the abstract «the whole of the world's tears». The juxtaposition of the girl – and the eternity of time («myriad years»), along with the vastness of the doings boldly associated with the «world» («the labouring ships»), reveals the strength of the poet's love which, in his imagination, is not only the equal of the world's toils and endeavours, but in some ways even dominates it, because it is through love that the poet apprehends things.

The contrast between the intimate sphere of feeling and the grandeur in time and space, of the phenomena that are associated with it, is peculiarly strong owing to the highly subjective poetic logic of the parallel between the labouring ships and myriads of years. The extreme vividness of the picture we have of the girl, with the implied contrast of vitality and sadness (the «red mournful lips» – a detail typical of the beauty ideal in esthetic poetry, an ideal of spiritualized sensuality), is opposed to the poetic vagueness of the world of tears, and ships, and years. The rhyme of lips and ships intensifies this contrast.

The vivid visual imagery is more than borne out by the music of the poem. The twitter of the sparrows rendered by the alliteration of r (in «quarrel» and «sparrow», or in «sparrow», «warring»), «the loud song of the ever-singing leaves», – a daring image made vocal by the lssl alliteration, the persistent anaphora of the second stanza:


And then you came...

And with you came...

And all the trouble of her...

And all the trouble of her... —

all these give the poem its melodious quality.

Just how much depends on the music of sound is clear from the comparison of the first and third stanzas: in the first the long and short vowels are fairly equally distributed, in the last – the long ones have a decided predominance, lending the poem a pensive and melancholy intonation.

The elegiac iambic pentametre of the poem with frequent lapses from the regular metrical scheme when the stress falls on articles and prepositions, is a fit medium for the verbal music filling the whole of the poem. The music, the imagery, the symbols are all there to suggest a mood and an atmosphere.


The second poem radically differs from the first in tone and manner. Again the subject is love, – moreover, love for the same woman, the beautiful Maud Gonne who had also inspired the first lyric. It is no longer the purely emotional musical effusion that rang in the first poem. Here is the unmistakable intonation of the speaking voice.

The poem consists of four questions: two long ones, comprising five lines each, and two short ones, each of a line. The stanza pattern, though formally the same as in the previous poem (i.e. quatrains consisting of iambic pentameters with the rhyme-scheme a b ab) is practically done away with, for the questions run on – the first beyond the limits of the first stanza, the second – beyond the second stanza and the third and fourth are hurriedly posed in the third and last stanza.

The sharply conversational tone is also kept up by numerous enjambments: four in twelve lines, the first occurring in the very first line, thus tuning the whole of the poem. The enjambments are very marked, separating noun and preposition («...my days / With misery»), the auxiliary and the main verb («she would of late / Have taught») and bring the poem very close to the idiom and movement of modern speech.

The poetic symbols of moon and stars, the vague outlines of the world of tears have given way to a distinctness of utterance and thoughts – feeling and sensation have given way to reflection.

The image of the beloved is much more definite than it was in the first poem – not merely a vivid portrait appealing to the senses and emotions, it is a full-length intellectual portrait and certainly a complex one: she is, we hear, beautiful, noble and fine, yet she teaches «to ignorant men most violent ways». This is a hint at Maud Gonne's political activities: a fiery nationalist, she did not draw the line at violence – a tendency that Yeats strongly disapproved of.

The whole attitude of the poet to his mistress is thus different here: he loves, but he criticizes, he is fascinated, but he analyses the whys and wherefores of his fascination. Beauty is no longer looked upon as divine bliss. It is certainly a mixed blessing, for it makes a woman dangerous to the peace of her lover and a danger to the community.

The imagery is infinitely more concrete; it is hard and crisp, flights of imagination alternating with bald statement. The first line opens with words that would do very well as the beginning of a sentence in prose («Why should I blame her...»). The metaphor in the last lines («she filled my days/With misery») is also one that might occur in ordinary conversation. The discrepancy is still more obvious in the following lines:

...or that she would of late

Have taught to ignorant men most violent ways...


The grammatical structure (the Future Perfect in the Past a form most unusual in poetry), the familiar phrase «of late», the abstract, publicistic style of «ignorant men» and «violent ways», are all typical of the colloquial habits of a modern, concerned with problems of social existence. They are, however, followed by the extraordinary metaphor: «Or hurled the little streets upon the great, / Had they but courage equal to desire?»

The verb to hurl with its connotations of violence and power, the arresting image of streets fighting one another, at the bidding of a woman, form a distinct contrast to the conversational tone of the poem. In the manner of one thinking aloud and weighing different possibilities Yeats asks:

What could have made her peaceful with a mind That nobleness made simple as a fire...?

To begin with, the idea is paradoxical: she whose mind has been made simple by nobleness cannot be peaceful. The received notion, obviously, is that nobleness and peacefulness are inseparable. Yeats reverses it. The simile of «simple as a fire» is surprising, for simplicity is hardly ever supposed to be a property of fire. The simplicity is that of destruction, and is associated with lack of peacefulness. So the simile sounds illogical at first, but has a convincing inner logic: being noble, she cannot put up with the ignoble and petty way of things; she fights against them with the devastating energy and single-mindedness of fire – thence nobleness «simple as a fire». This simile is supported by the next: «beauty like a tightened bow», also pointing at the destructive power of beauty. Again the epithets «high and solitary and most stern» do not at first sight appear to have a figurative meaning, being far removed from the noun they modify. But when applied to «beauty» they are poetic and intense, – all the more so by contrast with the businesslike prosaic style created by the use of the absolute construction («Being high and solitary and most stern»).

Then after the simplest question worded in the idiom of conversation («Why, what could she have done, being what she is?») comes the unexpected allusion to Troy, the Troy of ancient legend that was burnt down for Helen's beauty. The allusion has very little of the truly classical about it, as it lacks the awe and respect for ancient lore that generally go with this kind of allusion. It is introduced casually, almost carelessly. The final question seems so simple as to almost make us forget that it is metaphorical: Helen did not burn Troy, – it was burnt because of her. Neither is Maud actually expected to burn cities, but the implication is that in an age where beauty is «not natural» no towns can be burnt for her sake. The detached way Yeats has of speaking of his love only emphasizes the strength of a devotion that triumphs over his criticism.

The conditional mood of verbs, the heavy syntax, coming close to the language of scholarship, the run-on lines and stanzas, the current idiom of the day deprive the poem of the suggestive music and the elevated poetic phraseology of the earlier lyric and give it the hard, analytical style that is popular in modern English poetry.

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