In this essay I intend to look at two poems: Sparrow by Thom Gunn and Rose by Walter de la Mare. I will analyse each poem in terms of their tone, treatment, subject and verse technique and then compare them to see if there are any significant similarities or differences between them. Both poems are examples of lyric poetry. The main features of lyric poetry are strong emotional feeling and extensive use of imagery. Lyric poetry covers everything from hymns, lullabies, and folk songs to the huge variety of love songs and poems. The content of lyric poetry is as varied as the concerns of people in every period and in every part of the world. Attitude and manner were the distinctive aspects of 20th century poetry.
Gunn felt that to sentimentalise was to diminish the meaning within a poem. His poem Sparrow completely exemplifies this opinion and the overall style of 20th century poetry. It is written as a speech from a homeless beggar and it gives the reader an outlook on his life. The title of the poem is the nickname of the beggar, Sparrow. Gunn is using a nature comparison by comparing the beggar to the bird; he perhaps feels that sparrows are scavengers and are as helpless as the beggar is. It could also be because living on the streets means the beggar is close to nature. The poem is structured into seven stanzas, each with four lines.
Each poem must include the title and poet. For each poem, you must also include where you found it (bibliographic reference) at the bottom of the page. Up to five (5) of your poems may be song lyrics; they must be school appropriate lyrics! You must also explain in a sentence which item the poem is for (from the above list) and identify the part of the poem where you found it: (EXAMPLE: this will ...
This is quite a simple structure, which could serve to represent the intellect of the beggar. The first stanza stands out on the page, as it is slightly indented and also has a different rhyme scheme to the rest of the poem (a, a, b, b).
This has the effect of drawing the reader’s attention to it and making it seem more significant than the other stanzas. Its tone differs from that of the other stanzas in the poem, as it acts as a soliloquy; it is the cry of the beggar. Gunn uses the repetition of “change Sir” to create emphasis and add to the desperation of the tone. Using ‘Sir’ to address the person he is pleading to, suggests that Sparrow is polite and respectful, which allows the reader to sympathise with him more.
If he were being aggressive the reader would feel that he deserved to be homeless and ultimately would not be moved by the poem. Moreover, I feel that the poet himself empathises with Sparrow’s situation and is subtly coaxing the reader into sharing his empathy. The following quote backs up my opinion, and outlines the underlying intentions of Gunn’s poetry: “flowing like a vein of lava under the surface is a burning empathy — a ferocious outrage over so much meaningless human pain; the kind that lovers inflict upon each other, society upon the homeless, what is felt by AIDS victims, the lonely, and everyday outcasts.” http://www.sonic.net/~goblin/8gunn.html The style of the first stanza is quite childish as it is in the third person, which could again represent his level of intelligence and make him sound even more pitiful. The use of alliteration in “pity poor” could be a rhythmic device to help the poem flow, and it could also be used to link the two key words to give the overall idea of the poem, i.e. Sparrow is poor, therefor we should pity him. The other six stanzas of the poem form the beggar’s speech and are written in first person. The rhyme scheme is a, b, a, b and is made up of full rhyme, which makes it very simple and clear.
A negative lexical set is used throughout the poem; ‘bruised’, ‘dirty’, ‘sour’, ‘stale’. This makes Sparrow a perfect example of the way in which modern, 20th century poetry addressed the ugly and dirty things in life. Gunn appeals to the senses of the reader throughout the poem by describing smells, tastes and appearance. This helps to create another dimension to the poem; a vivid picture of what life is like for Sparrow which helps in the reader’s understanding of his situation. The beggar is very honest in the way he describes himself: “in a loose old suit bruised and dirty I may look fifty years old but I’m only thirty” His direct and brutal honesty helps in his (and the poet’s) bid for the audiences sympathies. There is a noticeable and complete lack of punctuation throughout the poem, which creates a ‘rambling’ effect and helps the poem to flow along continuously. This gives an idea of how Sparrow would be speaking.
Turtles Hatching The poem Mark O'Connor wrote "Turtles Hatching" at a time in his life when was closely studying nature. In this poem Mark O'Connor closely observes turtles hatching and contemplates the ritual that turtles share with the beach. This poem also has close connotations to life cycle and family. Mark O'Connor begins the poem with one single line which emphasis the information that he ...
The third stanza is where Gunn uses the most vivid descriptions. He uses consonance where he repeats the harsh, sibilant ‘s’ sound to reflect the harsh and cruel nature of Sparrows existence on the street: “My feet smell bad and they ache the wine’s gone sour and stale in my pores my throat is sand I shake and I live out of doors” The poet doesn’t just use a simile to say Sparrows throat was like sand, he uses a metaphor; “my throat is sand” which makes it very powerful and direct. It is also an example of hyperbole, which is deliberate over exaggeration to create more sympathy. In the fourth stanza it says “in a leaky doorway in leaky shoes”, the poet uses repetition of the word ‘leaky’ to create emphasis and sympathy because even though he has tried to shelter from the rain it is in vain. Sparrow makes a pathetic attempt to deny his alcoholism in the fifth stanza, which makes him sound nave and innocent like a child: “I need some change for a drink of sweet wine Sir a bottle of sherry it’s the sugar in it I think will make me merry” Sparrow then goes on to fantasize about what he would become once he is drunk. His dreams are hopelessly vague and pathetic, as the reader knows he could never fulfill them. It is significant that longer words are used in this stanza like ‘daredevil’ and ‘millionaire’ because they draw out the length of the lines which represents the beggar not wanting his dreams to end.
Life is a beautiful thing that should not be wasted. Life must be lived without warning; it is not to be taken for granted. We will never fully understand life, not even in a million years. The theme of John Keats' "To Autumn" is to enjoy life, even as you grow old and it begins to move away from you. He spreads his message through the time frame, imagery, and diction of the stanzas. To begin ...
There is also a significant use of soft nasal sounds created by the use of the consonants ‘m’, ‘n’ and ‘l’, which represent the change from harsh reality to the calm of dreams. The final stanza of Sparrow is, in my opinion, the most significant: “The bastard passed me by fuck you asshole that’s what I say I hope I see you cry like Sparrow one day” After all of the honesty and pleading, the man passes the beggar by and has no sympathy for him. The poet again uses repeated ‘s’ sounds along with fricatives: ‘ck’ and ‘c’, to create a harsh tone. Shocking expletives are used which help to emphasize the anger and astonishment that Sparrow feels at the way the man treats him. All the way through the poem Sparrow has been polite and harmless, so although he swears and shouts it seems to restore his dignity as a human being and secure the reader’s sympathies. His final hope of seeing the man suffer as he is suffering is the most pitiful of all, as the reader knows that there is no chance he will.
I feel that the powerful and explosive nature of this last stanza highlights the strong feelings of Gunn himself about the way in which society treats the homeless. You get the impression that Gunn is using Spar ….