Comparison of pre 1914 poetry Essay
In the selection of pre 1914 poems I have studied, I have noticed many similarities. They share common themes and structures; the use of language is similar in that the descriptions are very full and often indirect. For example the poet will often use metaphors and similes rather than direct language.One such common theme is death. Thomas hardy – author of ‘The Going’ and ‘The Voice’ speaks widely on this subject. In his personal life, he was deeply touched by the death of his wife Emma, and makes frequent reference to how she left him so suddenly and without warning;”Why did you give no hint that night…”Death is also a favourite topic of Alfred Lord Tennyson. Again, in his life, he was shattered by the death of a loved one. In the poem ‘Break, Break, Break’, the breaking waves remind the poet of his life which is greatly affected by a death;”But the tender grace of a day that is deadWill never come back to me…”In a similar poem, ‘Crossing The Bar’, his approach to death is described as though he were a ship leaving harbour:”Sunset and evening star,And one clear call for meAnd there may be no moaning of the barWhen I put out to sea.”Christina Rosetti was another Victorian poet touched y the fascination of death, common to the era. In her poem called ‘Song’, the message is plain;”When I am dead my dearest,Sing no sad songs for me;Plant thou no roses at my head,Nor shady cypress tree:”All the poets mentioned so far make use of the regular form of stanza in their construction. In the previous example,Christina Rosetti’s verses are each eight lines in length and rhyming alternately.Tennyson uses a similar structure in his short poems but varies the rhythm and rhyme in his longer poem, ‘The Charge of The Light Brigade’. The irregular length of the stanzas and the fact that each couplet rhymes gives this poem a slightly different feel to the previous examples:”Half a league, half a league,Half a league onward…”The sounds of the words in the quotation mimic the rhythm of horses galloping into battle and this sets the tone for the rest of the poem.Tennyson wrote the poem after reading a newspaper article of the battle and the chaos and horrors of war is accentuated by the quick fire tone of the words.”Cannon to the right of them,Cannon to the left of them,Cannon in front of them,”The above example also shows how the poet made use of repetition. Again this is commonly seen in all the examples when the authors wish to highlight certain features.The use of alliteration is another method common to the poets at the time, used when they wish to stress recurring ideas.An example of this can be seen in the poem ‘A Portrait’ by Christina Rosetti:”She schooled herself to sights and sounds uncouth…”Each word group begins with an ‘S’ which immediately grabs the readers attention.The poem is also different in that she makes use of the sonnet form, where each stanza is fourteen lines long. The rhyming arrangements are also slightly different:”All pain had left her; and the sun’s last rayShone through upon her, warming into redThe shady curtains…”The rhythmic, almost musical quality of this poem and indeed all the others of the period emphasize that the poets intended them to be read aloud.I can conclude that similarities exist mainly within the themes of the poems, whilst they differ in their technical construction and language.