Poetical Devices

We have said that the poet ‘teaches’ and ‘delights’ by stirring the reader to an unusual pitch of excitement and by making all the discordant elements of his mind and body move together in perfect harmony. But what is the poet’s secret, that he, with only the materials of the daily round of existence which we all share, can render back to us a heightened sense of the significance of our own lives together with a more serene detachment ? The answer is—

we do not know. We know simply that the poet probably does respond to what is going on about him more finely, more deeply, and with more variety than most of us do ; we know further, that together with a delicate emotional nature, the poet has a power to organize and arrange his thoughts and to fit them into ordered words ; we suspect that this instinct for form not only helps the poet relieve his inner tension, but also actually enhances his original experience. Which moment was more precious to Wordsworth—when the host of golden daffodils burst upon him as he walked beside the lake, or when, long afterwards, the vision became the material for poetry, and flashed “upon the inward eye, which is the bliss of solitude” ?

And then my heart with pleasure fills
And dances with the daffodils.
The daffodils in the poem are singled out ; irrelevancies have dis­appeared. The meaning of the experience is felt and has achieved permanency through form, not only in the mind of Wordsworth, but in the minds of all who read the poem. The freshness, the surprise of daffodils in early spring is caught forever, while the memory of the actual walk died when Wordsworth died. “The emotion of art is impersonal”, says T. S. Eliot. It has its life in the poem itself, not in the personal biography of the poet. The only word we have to explain this transformation of personal feeling into the complete and perfect poem is “form”.
What we mean by the word can best be discovered by a further consideration of the elements of form, rhythm and meter, rhyme, and images. But we must always remember that there are no definite and fixed laws to help us. “In English, by the grace of God and the Muses, the poetry makes the rules, not the rules the poetry”, says Saintsbury. Repeated and sympathetic reading of a poem leads one to tentative observations as to how it is organized, and curiously enough these observations as to the form of a poem usually bring one to a deeper and more satisfying understanding of its meaning. For form and meaning are inextricably bound together : in a sense, the one is the other.
Let us select Milton’s poem On Time for such a reading, and let us approach it pencil in hand prepared to mark and underline it in any way we please. But first let us read and re-read it, until a general sense of its meaning has been borne in upon us, and we feel fairly satisfied with our way of rendering it aloud.
Fly, envious Time, till thou run out thy race,
Call on the lazy leaden-stepping hours,
Whose speed is but the heavy Plummets pace :
And glut thy self with what thy womb devours,
Which is no more than what is false and vain,
And merely mortal dross ;
So little is our loss,
So little is thy gain.
For when as each thing had thou hast entomb’d,
And last of all, thy greedy self consum’d,
Then long, Eternity shall greet our bliss
With an Individual kiss ;
And Joy shall overtake us and a flood,
When every thing that is sincerely good
And perfectly divine,
With Truth, and Peace, and Love shall ever shine
About the supreme Throne
Of him, t’whose happy-making sight alone,
When once our heav’nly-guided soul shall clime,
Then all this Earthy grossness quit,
Attir’d with Stars, we shall for ever sit,
Triumphing over Death, and Chance, and thee, O Time.
After one has enjoyed to the full saying aloud these resounding lines, while they are still echoing in one’s mind, one begins to realize that Milton is dealing with a problem which has always fascinated poets and scientists alike, the problem of time. He is, in this poem, placing Time in its relation to eternity and doing it so effectively that, though the lines are for the most part of a regular alternating heavy and light stress throughout, the pitch and intensity with which one reads them change from a nervous, almost irritable, impatience while one is still concerned with Time, to a serene calm when one mounts with the poet to Eternity itself, there at last to triumph over Death and Chance and Time. The metrical scheme of the lines is stretched and enlarged by the rhythmic urge which animates the whole.
Notice that though the two lines,.
Fly envious Time, till thou run out thy race
Attired with Stars, we shall for ever sit
have each ten syllables and five stresses, we read them with a more solemn tone and a more deliberated emphasis because of our sense of the slowly emerging meaning of the poem. The meter is fairly regular, except for the three-stress lines which do not really break the meter, for one fills out these lines with pauses. The rhythm, however, is varied and shifted by the sense of the poem, which every reader will respond to with slightly different stress, for the thought itself may be said to have a sort of rhythmic urge, quite apart from the metrical scheme of the lines. It is, in fact, this never-ending conflict between the meter of the line and the rhythm of the whole which gives to this poem, and to all poems, poetic intensity.
But there are other ways in which Milton “organizes” the poem, besides his use of meter and rhythm. Let us read the Poem again. Beginning with impatience earth-bound, confused, we finally are wafted into remote and shining regions where everything
is sincerely good
And perfectly divine
dividing the poem directly in two parts of ten lines each comes the “individual kiss” of long Eternity, which frees us from our bonds. Notice that the rhime scheme which Milton uses varies as the emotion mounts. Though the poem sweeps us along in one unbroken sentence with no complete stop until Time is finally vanquished, we might, if we like, consider the first two sets of four lines as two units each marked by its own rhime scheme. Milton’s rhiming in this poem follows no established rules at all ; its effectiveness makes us realize his power to create form for his own purposes. The second four-line unit gains a kind of high and proud defiance by urging the reader through the two short intervening lines in order to bear down on the word ‘gain’, answering with such firmness in vain. These two units are then followed by five sets of rhiming couplets which whirl us up to the “Supreme Throne”, and there with the support of our final unit of our lines, linked as our second unit was linked, we find ourselves m a freer, milder atmosphere where Time cannot endure. Again the form fills out the meaning and the meaning gives the form signi­ficance, and that is the purpose of Time—to make more secure, more firm, more concentrated, the intricately bound thought, which is always attempting to free itself.
Besides Milton’s suitable use of rhythm, meter, rhime, he makes a demand upon our power of seeing, which is another demand of form. One cannot see Time, Eternity, Joy, Truth, Peace, Love, Death, and Chance, and yet in this soaring poem, as in the music of Bach, as in the paintings of El Creco, something visual accom­panies our enjoyment of the mounting thought. Perhaps the fact that Time is addressed directly—”run out thy race”, “glut thy self with what thy womb devours”—gives us a sense of large and shrouded figures of an allegorical sort on a canvass varying from stormy dark to shining images are never more than approximately akin to those in the mind of the poet. The important thing is that calling upon our power to summon up the actual colour and shape of the figures involved we thereby are made to feel more completely the final serenity, when “our heavenly-guided soul” shall sit “attir’d with Stars,” truimphant over Death and Chance and Time. Though the images are intentionally shrouded in this poem, the words themselves have a clarity and precision which cancel the vagueness of the images. One loves to pronounce the words, especially the vowels, as distinctly as possible, each one presenting itself as peculiarly perfect. We do not merely imagine that the very sounds of the words, fit themselves to the nervous impatience of “Fly envious Time, till thou run out thy race,” with array of sharp vowels, and that the l’s of the next line are actually heavy. There is a fullness and roundness to the line, “And Joy shall overtake us as a flood” ; there is a special pleasure in hear­ing the last phrase of the poem, “and thee O Time,” chime with the first. The poet’s power to fit the very sounds of words to the mood of the poem is an aspect of the poet’s sense of organic form, which can never be precisely defined because it varies in every poem.
It is form which gives a poem “life,” quite apart from the actual daily life to the poet. Who knows—and indeed does it matter ?—what personal reasons moved Milton with such truly divine words to express for us our mortal defect in terms of Time, our immortal triumph in terms of Eternity? The poem is “impersonal”; it has what is called form. And now let us examine in more detail each of the four aspects of form touched on here—rhythm and meter, time and images––remembering that it is not a mechanical sort of form, dependent on rules, which interests us, but form which grows out of the thought itself, or, as Coleridge would say, “organic form”.
1. Rhythm
John Livingston Lowes, in an interesting lecture on Shelley’s poetic methods, based on a series of Shelley’s revisions of a single poem, pointed out that the poet in his first sketch for his poem marked out the time with dashes, and only filled in with an occasional word. More words took their place among the dashes as the rhythm became established in his mind and he felt his way towards an articulate expression :
O world ! O life ! O time !
On whose last steps I climb,
Trembling at that where I had stood before ;
When will return the glory of your prime ?
No more—Oh, never more !
Notice the heavy drag of the first two lines ; the balance and poise of the third, which in the next line is gathered together in one despairing question–– “When will return the glory of your prime?”––to sink away at last into utter dejection. The strong rhythm feeling of Shelley’s mood came to him before words were found to give it expression. It is to rhythmic felling, then, that we must ourselves first respond ; the poem will yield its meaning gradually as we surrender ourselves to its emotion.
The physiological fact that we arc ourselves creatures of rhythm is the reason we are able to share in the rhythmic expression, and thence in thought and feeling, of the poets of all ages. Our breathing, our walking, the tempo with which we type a letter, is rhythmic, sloe or rapid, regular or disjointed, according to the mood which we are thus unconsciously expressing in every gesture. Rhythm, then, under-lies all life ; it is not confined to art alone, and it may be defined as that in us which responds to recurrent time intervals. As in music and dancing, so in poetry, time is the chief factor. It was in terms of time that Shelley found expression for his melancholy mood, it is in terms of time that we come to share his mood.
Not only is there a definite rhythm to each line to which one responds as completely as one can ; there is also a rhythm to the whole and this is indicated, by the stanzas, by refrains, by words repeated, by the thought enlarged and finally brought to a close. ‘The second stanza—and there are but two—of this poem reflects back upon the first stanza when we re-read the whole and subtly influences our way of modulating our voices. And for this reason one must read the poem again, that the whole may play upon each part backwards and forwards.
Out of the day and night
A joy has taken flight ;
Fresh spring, and summer, and winter hoar,
Move my faint heart with grief, but with delight
No more––Oh, nevermore !
The resignation, the exhaustion, of the second stanza, make the line. “No more—Oh, never more !” sound on our ears more sadly than the same line at the end of the first stanza. One reads it the first time with less finality, with something of an upward urge ; one reads it the second time with the quiet, even tone of despair.
To D. H. Lawrence “the hidden emotional pattern” of poetry, the rhythm shaped by the feeling of the poet, was more important than meter
I think more of a bird with broad wings flying and lapsing through the air, than anything, when I think of meter……It all depends on the pause—the natural pause, the naturnal lingering of the voice according to the feeling—it is the hidden emotional pattern that makes poetry, not the opvious form.
and this “hidden emotional pattern” is the pattern of rhythm.
2. Meter
Metrical pattern, however, seems to be essential to transport us to the level of consciousness experienced by the poet himself, to enable us to share the thoughts and emotions which are beyond our ordinary range. Rhythm marks prose as well as poetry, meter or regularity of time parts within a line, is the distinguishing sign of poetry. One has only to repeat with exaggerated emphasis Lawrence’s sentence above to observe that it has very beautiful rhythm. But it is equally clear that it has no regular pattern of sound. For the sake of the contrast, repeat Shelley’s stanza. The time-pattern is very regular ; each stanza is made up of two three-stress lines, and ending with a three-stress line. Perhaps irregular rhythmic patterns, such as those used by D. H. Lawrence himself, and many other writers of free verse, will finally displace the more regular material organization of traditional verse. But it is not probable, since the physiological fact remains that in moments of excitement our speech, gestures and steps fall into a more definitely marked rhythm, and poetry is the language of strong feeling. Though we enjoy free verse very much, our enjoyment is essentially that of our pleasure in rhythmic prose.
But to say that meter is essential to poetry is not to say that the poet is bound by an unalterable metric pattern. Though the beat of Shelley’s poem is strong and firm, it only approximates and exact rhythm which we feel subconsciously should be there ; though the meter seems clearly defined for a line or two, it is swiftly shifted only to regain again its original pattern. For the principle behind all art, which is always a struggle between inner spontanity and other control, is that the rigidity of the scheme be constantly modified by the life which flows through it. After two lines of alternating un­stressed and stressed syllables, Shelley, for instance, reverses his pattern and writes,
Trembling at that where I had stood before
When will return the glory of your prime
No more—Oh, never more.
The first foot in each of these lines begins with a stressed syllable, perhaps to make us feel the physical strain of the weary climb. In spite of this irregularity of meter, we stay close enough to the established pattern to feel the variation only as a deeply satisfying conflict between the urge of the emotion and the control of the form. And it is in this conflict, shifting and changing with every line, that the pleasure of reading poetry aloud is found. Should one read “O world ! O life ! O time !” with a mounting emphasis, or should one almost ignore the stress on “whose” in the next line, and place a borrowed emphasis on “last”, which actually does not carry the stress? How long should one pause at the end of lines one and two and at the beginning of line five ? For a whole beat, silently felt ? The answer depends on the reader’s age, his temperament, his mood at the moment, for he with the poet, is the “creator”, by means of his rhythmic expressiveness of the poem which emerges.
It is clear, then, that though we mark all the stresses of a line in the same way, no two stresses are precisely alike. We shall, how-ever, use the word “foot” in our discussion of various familar meters to indicate a certain number of syllables in a unit, for one’s perception of the basic rhythm of the poem is enlarged by training one’s ear to heat more accurately the different patterns used by English poets. They are :
Iambus : One unstressed and one stressed syllable
Impe/rious Cae/sar dead/and turned/to clay.
Trechee : One stressed and one unstressed syllable
Creep in/to thy/narrow/bed.
Spondee : Two stressed syllables
The gray sea/and the long/black land.
Anapest : Two unstressed and one stressed syllable
I am lord/of the fowl/and the brute.
Dactyl : One stressed and two unstressed syllables
Swiftly walk/over the/Western wave.
The first three kinds of feet are sometimes called “duple” rhythm, each beat representing two counts. This is the rhythm of walking. The last two kinds of feet are often called “triple” rhythm, and may be compared to waltzing. Very little experience in reading poetry teaches one that poetry is not a matter of syllable counting. But a certain amount of syllable counting actually seems to make one’s ear more sensitive to the organic rhythm underloying the whole.
English verse was strongly marked by meter long before rhime was considered a necessary adornment of poetry. Though here has not been a revival of the alliterative verse of Anglo-Saxon and Middle English poetry since the fourteenth century, blank verse which came into vogue with the great Elizabethan dramas, is still the favourite meter for full-bodied, and dignified poetry. Perhaps the essential reason for the hold of this five-stress iambic line is simply that it does not fall apart into two equal halves, as the four-and the six-stress lines are always in danger of doing. For instance, observe the four-stress line :
Bind up, bind up, your yellow hair
And tie it on your neck
And see you look as maiden-like
As the day that we first met.
And now consider the six-stress line :
Then labour in the deep mid-ocean, wind and wave and oar ; O rest ye, brother Mariners, we will not wander more.
Nor has the five-stress iambic line the song-like quality of the three-stress line,
Hail to thee, blithe spirit !
Bird thou never wert—
That from heaven or near it
Pourest thy full heart.
But probably the real glory of blank verse is that, though the iambic beat of the ten-syllable line is maintained, the pressure of the thought is felt filling out the lines with its own strength, disregarding rhime, letting the pauses fall where they will, often, indeed, shifting the meter from iambic to trochee or to spondee. Othello’s greeting to Desdemona when she joins him in Cyprus illustrates the variety, the plasticity, the strength of blank verse.
Othello :
It gives me wonder great as my content
To see you here before me. O my soul’s joy !
If after every tempest come such calms,
May the winds blow till they have waken’d death !
And let the labouring bark climb hills of seas
Olympus-high, and duck again as low
As hell’s from heaven ! If it were now to die,
’T were now to be most happy ; for, I fear,
My soul bath her content so absolute
That not another comfort like to this
Succeeds in unknown fate.
Desdemona :
The heavens forbid………
One observes, in the first place, that one pauses only for the fraction of a second at the end of the first line, that the real pause comes in the middle of the second. But notice, too, that Shakespeare does not let us stray too far from the rhythmic effect of the pause at the end of a line. For the next three lines the pause and the line end together and then we mount again, and with
……the labouring bark climb hills of seas
Olympus-high, and duck again as low
As hell’s from heaven !
Then a long pause, the longest in the speech, for here the whole mood shifts, and Othello begins again in quite a different key, as though he were conversing with himself :
If it were now to die,
’T were now to be most happy ; for, I fear,
My soul hath her content so absolute
That not another comfort like to this
Succeeds in unknown fate.
And Desdemona quickly takes him up, filling out the line with,
The heavens forbid.
One observes, in the second place, that Shakespeare does not maintain the regularity of his stressed and unstressed syllables for long, but gives us a sense of the variety of rhythmic conversation by a quick change of pattern :
It gives me wonder great as my content
To see you here before me. O my soul’s joy !
By disregarding the stress entirely at times, or else by letting it fall lightly, the poet keeps us from feeling the artificiality of meter :
May the winds blow till they have waken’d death.
Neither the nor they are strong enough to bear the stress nor are they required to do so, for the essential time beat is maintained by the rhythm of the whole passage.
The language of Shakespeare, Marlowe, Milton, and many others found scope in the freest and yet the most sustained of English meters. The greatness of the Elizabethan drama ests in part on the fact that the dramatists discovered the strength and range of blank verse by matching impassioned language to the meter of poetry, and by lending to poetry the naturaliness of prose.
3. Rhyme
The greater part of English verse since the time of Chaucer has been rhymed—that is to say, the stressed vowels and the following consonants are alike at the end of two or more lines of verse. Rhymes are frequently arranged in pairs or couplets (aa, bb, cc, dd, and so forth), or else alternately (abab). There may be variations and combi­nations of these two principles. Such as, ababab ; ababcc ; aabcbc : abababcc ; and so forth. In quatrains, alternate lines are sometimes left unrhymed, thus : xaya. Let us now consider why it is that one’s ears are pleased by rhyme, which is, after all, not essential to poetry, as rhythm and meter are.
In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the iambic penta­meter line of blank verse was written in rhythmical couplets and was called “heroic” verse, though it sounds much less heroic to our earss than blank verse. Sir John Denham, standing on Cooper’s Hill in. 1642, looked down on the swiftly-flowing, but self-contained Thames and thought of the river as a perfect example of how noble verse might be made to flow :
O could I flow like thee, and make thy stream
My great example, as it is my theme !
Though deep, yet clear, though gentle yet not dull
Strong without rage, without O’er-flowing full.
One notices at once that the pauses coincide with the ends of the line, though in each line there is also a definitely marked pause in the middle, one observes that the stresses fall on the important word and that there is only a slight disparity between the rhythmic emphasis which the reader is moved to place upon the lines and the metrical stresses of the lines. And this is one of the chief reasons for rhyme, that it marks clearly the metric pattern. The conflict between rhythm and meter is almost resolved in the heroic couplet ; the result is that one does not feel any very strong emotion and is quite willing to agree that now “sense” and “reason” are in control. Rhymed couplets are easier to write than blank verse, for the rhymes themselves are pleasantly distracting and the reader demands century, and many others after him, did indeed and a fresh intellectual quality and a sharp satiric turn, which, as Dryden said, “tickles even while it hurt”. Of George Villiers, Second Duke of Buckingham, he wrote :
Stiff in opinions, always in the wrong
Was everything by starts and nothing long.
Moreover, Dryden was able to use the same meter to express his mood of lonely doubt, as well as his bursts of personal venom :
Dim, as the borrowed beams of moon and stars
To lonely weary wandering travellers
Is Reason to the soul………
Though heroic verse stays more serenely within the limits of the line, the conflict between meter and rhythm remains, as it does in all poetry. But in this verse, in contrast to blank verse, the line structure is reinforced by the rhyme, and the effect is that the grip of the pattern is tightened.
Ryme is not only used to make blank verse walk in more orderly heroic couplets, but it is also used to organise groups of lines into stanzas, from the simplest ballad form, really intended to be sung,
In somer when the shawes be sheyne,
And leves be large and long,
Hit is full merry in feyre foreste
To here the foulys song,
to the complicated rhyme royal, Spenserian stanza, ode, sonnet and other patterns. All of these verse forms are different devices to achieve the same end—to reinforce the rhythm of the verse and hence to make more inevitable our understanding of the poem. Though various pattern have names, the truth is that each poet does what he pleases with the inherited form. Since each poet responds to experience in his own way, the conflict he makes us feel between rhythm and matter is in every case essentially unique. Rhyme is simply another way of tightening the organization of the poem against which the larger rhythm struggles. Listen to the use Wordsworth makes of rhyme, for instance, in his Intimations of Immortality :
There was a time when meadow, grove, and stream,
The earth, and every common sight,
To me did seem
Apparell’d in celestial light,
The glory and the freshness of a dream.
How one holds to the rhyme in this free and drifting rhythm, and how skillfully and quickly Wordsworth shifts his rhyme schemes :
The rainbow comes and goes
And lovely is the rose ;
The moon doth with delight
Look round her when the heavens are bare :
Waters on a starry night
Are beautiful and fair……
The conflict between the larger rhythm and the meter is felt more strongly in rhymed stanzas than in heroic couplets because the thought in rhymed stanzas tends to be more discursive. But this is only a tendency ; the real poet, by the very strength of his feeling, bends any form to his use and makes the reader feel, in the very midst of the conflict between spontaneity and control, the power of poetry.
4. Images and Words
We have said that organic form is the essence of poetry ; that because of our common human response to rhythm, made stronger by meter and rhyme, the poet and the reader of poetry are able to share experience. What we wish to seize from this sharing of experience is a kind of truth, the poet’s truth, and this, after all, is said to us in words, not in rhythm.
Because of the heightened emotional state of the poet, his words are never entirely abstract ; because of our heightened emotional state when we read the poem, we are able to understand the abstract truth behind the concrete pictures the poet gives us. For the poet’s language is the language of imagery, and his images, perfect and satisfying as they are, always represent truth, no matter how simple,. no matter how difficult to translate again into abstract words. It is for the sake of this truth, which Keats says in the same as beauty, that we are eager to enter completely into the thought of a poem.
Though the language of poetry is images, the vocabulary of poetry is the vocabulary we hear around us. Wordsworth settled the question nearly a hundred and fifty years ago when he issued a blast against “poetic” words in his famous Preface, and declared that he was going to use “a selection of language really used by men”. At the same time Wordsworth hoped to cast over his words “a certain colouring of imagination whereby ordinary things should be presented to the mind in an unusual way”. By the strength of the feeling of the poet, ordinary words are made to sing themselves into our hearts and to speak their meaning. Masefield, in Cargoes, gives us two stanzas of “poetic” language. and then, in the third, makes use of “the language really used by men”, over which “a certain colouring of imagination” has been cast.
Quinquireme of Nineveh from distant
Ophir Rowing home to heaven in sunny Palestine.
With a cargo of ivory,
And apes and peacocks.
Sandalwood, cedarwood, and sweet white wine.
Stately Spanish galleon coining from the Isthmus,
Dipping through the Tropics by the palm-green shores,
With a cargo of diamonds,
Emeralds, amethysis,
Topazes, and cinnamon, and gold moidores.
Dirty British coaster with a salt-caked smoke-stack,
Butting through the Channel in the mad March days,
With a cargo of Tyne coal,
Road-rails, pig-lead,
Firewood, iron-ware, and cheap tin trays.
Though the vocabulary of the third stanza may be said to be less “poetic” than that of the first two, the sounds of the last stanza are actually just as beautiful. By the sharp contrast of the images, Masefield makes us understand the romantic feeling with which he observes British ships in the Channel on a windy March day.
Presenting to us familiar images in our own daily language, the poet is able by the way in which he groups and associates his words and images to cast “a certain colouring of the imagination” over ordinary things and thus to express truth for us. For we emerge with a sense of having understood what before we missed, of having extended the realms of our awareness. As John Livingston Eowes puts it, “Poetry starts from the actual and ends in the true”.
Keats tells us in one of his letters, that he spent a morning in a somewhat moody state of mind, listening to the song of a nightingale in a nearby tree. A simple prose statement of how he sat in the garden listening to the bird does not tell us what really happened in this transition from “the actual” to “true”. It can be said only in poetry ; it can be said only by images :
My heartaches, and a drowsy numbness pains
My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk,
Or emptied some dull opiate to the drains
One minute past, and Lethe-wards had sunk.
And we, with Keats, sink Lethe-wards, release our hold on the world about us, and let the song of a bird lead us to a comprehension of—what ? Let us listen first, and let each image form itself in our minds:
T’s not through envy of thy happy lot,
But being too happy in thy happiness,
That thou, light-winged Drayd of the trees.
In some melodious plot
Of beechen green, and shadows numberless,
Singest of summer in full-throated ease.
The bird, invisible, is a “light-winged Dryad of the trees”. The very metaphor, together with the reference to hemlock and to Lethe, reminds us that birds were singing as freshly many centuries ago as they are now. Their unchanging music helps us to leave the present world unseen, and to “fade away into the forest dim
Fade far away, dissolve, and quite forget
What thou among the leaves hast never known
The weariness, the fever, and the fret
Here, where men sit and hear each other grown.
“Though the dull brain perplexes and retards,” the song of the invisible bird is enough to realise, us, to let him “fly to thee” “on the viewless wings of poesy”. For now the garden in which Keats is seated has become remote :
I cannot see what flowers are at my feet,
Nor what soft incense hangs upon the boughs.
But in “emblamed darkness”, a darkness made sweet by “the grass; the thicket and the fruit-tree wild”, does Keats, in his mood of rest­lessness, let the sound of the bird’s song lead him further and further away from the “actual,” nearer and nearer to the “true, the true, which, in this poem, is an apprehension of the meaning of the death of the individual :
Darkling I listen ; and for many a time
I have been half in love with easeful death…
Now more than ever seems it rich to die
To cease upon the midnight with no pain,
And the immortality of beauty itself :
Thou wast not born for death, immortal Bird !
No hungry generations tread thee down ;
The voice I hear this passing night was heard
In ancient days by emperor and clown :
Perhaps the self-same song that found a path
Through the said heart of Ruth, when, sick for home
She stood in tears amid the alien corn :
The same that of times hath
Charm’d magic easements, opening on the foam
Of perilious seas, in faery lands forlorn.
The song of the bird, and all the associations which cluster around the song in Keats’s mind, have led him in terms of imagery to a comprehension of the relation between our transitory selves and all the imperishable beauty of the world, a comprehension which we share as we ourselves, led by Keats a he was led by the bird, enter the “forest dim” of our own minds and emerge again into the actual world, depeened and hormonized :
Fled is that music :––do I wake or sleep ?
Just as we can never hope to recapture the exact rhythmic stress which Keats read over his poem, so we can never see the same images. Our images of the flowers in the garden, “fast fading violets cover’d up in leaves,” and of Ruth
……when, sick for home,
She stood in tears amind the alien corn.
are different from the images in Keats’s mind. No matter. The point is that we too create the images as vividly, as wholly, as we can, with as rich association as we are able to evoke—and that the images do give up their meanings to us. For images are the language with which the poet expresses the truths of the heart ; all that the poet has enjoyed and suffered, all that he has observed, will be fused and stilled again by this “image-making faculty,” which Sir Phillip Sidney says in the very mark of the poet.
Why this should be so we do not know. We do know, however, that after moments of excitement, when our minds and emotion seem to be deeply involved, we are apt to call up again isolated images stored in our imaginations—the gesture of a hand, the quality of a voice—which forever symbolize for us the whole experience. The poet, finer in his responses, richer in his power of association, must be able by means of these symbols to fuse the experience for us into one perfect unity, making us feel the abstract in the concrete and the concrete in the abstract, and thus to give meaning to our otherwise not quite realised lives. Coleridge’s description of “the streamy nature of association which thinking curbs and rudders,” helps us to understand the mental process of the poet searching for expression, in which images are integral parts, not superimposed ornaments with which the poet adorns his poem. How better, except by associating the song of an invisible bird to undying music, could Keats have told us that, though we die, beauty is never vanquished ? Evoking image of familiar sights and sounds, the poet makes us feel their Import by suggesting the shadowed truth which they express. Using words that are thoroughly familiar to us, he so orders them that they reverberate in our minds and suggest more than words can ever say explicitly.
Poetry, then, does not make us experience directly the feeling of love, or hate, or, hunger, or humiliation, or relief : by a process only partially understood, the poet takes these emotions known to us all, and bodies them forth in ordered words. By responding us fully as we can to the demands made upon us by poetry to hear it, and see it, and share in its mood, we ourselves learn indirectly the meaning of these basic emotions. Like the poet, we feel a new inner harmony which makes us at once more detached from the world about us and more completely as a part of it. The terms of poetry which we have been discussing here—rhythm, meter, rhyme, and images—are only words which we use to describe an experience of concentrated inten­sity, the exact nature of which we do not understand. True form is a part of the very life of the poem itself. As Coleridge wrote in his essay on “Shakespeare, a poet Generally” : “The form is mechanic when on any given material we impress a pre-determined form, not necessarily arising out of the properties of the material ;—as when to a mass of wet clay we give whatever shape we wish it to retain when hardened. The organic form, on the other hand, is innate ; it shapes, as it develops itself from within, and the fulness of its development is one and the same with the perfection of its outward form. Nature, the prime genial artist, inexhaustible in diverse powers, is equally inexhaustible in forms ;—each exterior is the physiog­nomy of the being within—its true image reflected and thrown out from the concave mirror.” (Adapted)
Simile and Metaphor :
These two devices, by which we compare certain objects, feelings and attitudes with others, help to compensate for the inade­quacies of language. They enable us to bring together various segments of our experience—either real or imagined—in the com­munication of other experiences. Poets are constantly dealing with the endless variety of experiences, thoughts, sensations, and emotions that constitute living. Aristotle said : “The greatest thing by far is to be a master of metaphor. It is the one thing that cannot be learned from others ; and it is also a sign of genius.” Through comparisons, poets are able not only to communicate the most complex materials, but to communicate them more effectively and more meaningfully to the reader.
Comparisons in poetry fall into two main classifications : Similes and metaphors. A simile, according to the dictionary defini­tion, is “a figure of speech b which one thing, action, or relation is likened or explicitly conepared, often with as or like, to something of different kind or quality.”
A metaphor is defined in the dictionary as “a figure of speech in which a word or phrase literally devoting one kind of object or idea is used in place of another by way of suggesting a likeness or analogy between them (the ship plows the sea, a valley of oaths)”. A metaphor, then, as distinct from a simile, is an implied compari­son : in the dictionary examples, the motion of the ship through the water is, by implication, compared with the motion of a plow through the soil ; the oaths, by implication, are compared with bullets or arrows or other missiles.
The poet, in order to make an effective use of simile, has to look for an element of similarity in dissimilar things. This similar­ity, to be an effective one, must be real, credible and meaningful. We cannot call a lipstick as like a cannon because both are cylindrically shaped, for it is not meaningful. In Andrew Marvell’s To His Coy Mistress,
Now therefore, while the youthful hue
Sits on thy skin like morning dew,
what is the similarity between dew and a youthful hue ? is the mistress’ face constantly wet ? Or does she have what advertising copywriters today call “dewy freshness” ? Is the simile built on the fact that both dew and a youthful hue are bright, sparkling and fresh ? The context in which the lines are found shows that Marvell means to emphasize the transient quality of youth and hence compares it with dew, which is also transient. Henry Vaughan uses a simile to communicate his vision and understanding of eternity in these lines from The World.
I saw eternity the other night
Like a great ring of pure and endless light,
All calm as it was bright.
Similes bring together widely disparate units of experience to result in valuable and meaningful comments on life, on love and on death. These similes impose a certain order on human experience.
Metaphors are equally important in producing images and in making the abstract concrete. In Auden’s As I Walked Out One Evening,
In headaches and in worry
Vaguely life leaks away
the abstract concept of life is here made concrete : through the metaphor, it is seen specifically as the contents of a leaky vessel.
Metaphors, too, make their contribution to the process of finding order in life, in the world, in the universe. The difference bet­ween similes and metaphors-a stated comparison and an implied comparison of unlike objects—results in a difference of effect. The comparison expressed through a simile keeps the reader aware of the two elements being compared : in the simile from Donne’s A Valediction Forbiading Mourning. We are aware both of the compass and of the lovers’ souls, which are two and yet one. In a metaphor, however, because the fusion of the two elements is so complete, we ‘usually remain far more aware of one of the elements than of the other. In the lines from Auden’s poem, our attention is centred on life; it is not equally shared with a leaky vessel. Actually, the metaphor results in our seeing life with the characteristics of the contents of a leaky vessel made intrinsic to it.
Irony relies on the difference between what happens and what is expected to happen, between what is said and what is intended. The ironist exercises his intellect in exploring the reality with which he is concerned, and his major concern is distinguishing between appearance and reality–between what is and what seems to be. As the ironist sees one thing in terms of another, usually its opposite, irony touches the realm of the metaphorical. Skillfully used, irony holds in suspense two levels of meaning—one, the level of meaning explicitly stated ; the other, its opposite, of which the reader is aware precisely because the explicit statement is ironic. And the two levels of meaning are communicated with some degree of simultanity as soon as the ironic statement is recognized for what it is, its opposite becomes part of the total complex of meaning.
The poet may use a pun as Shakespeare does to achieve the effect of irony. Hamlet says
I am too much i ‘th’ sun.
meaning that too much attention is being shed on him—and false attention, at that—but also ironically objecting to his hated step-father, Claudius, who had addressed him a few lines earlier as “my son”. Understatement is frequently used to achieve the ironic effect as in Miltons Paradise Lost :
……at length
Not unamazed she (Eve) thus in answer spake,
Eve, is so amazed at hearing the serpent speak and at what he says that she is well on the way toward acting on the advice of the serpent; her act results in the loss of Paradise. Conversely, over-statement is frequently used to achieve irony. Irony can be made effective by speech, gesture, intonation or facial expression.
Paradox :
A paradox is a statement seemingly self-contractory or opposed to what is commonly held to be true but which neverthless contains a truth. When we say that man is born to die, we are stating a paradox because we normally believe that man is born to live––and we hope, to live for a long time. Yet since death comes to every man, man is born to die. A paradox is normally in the nature of a startling statement. The sudden juxtaposition of truth and error gains added attention for the statement : the alert reader is stimulated to realize meaning on at least two levels almost simultaneously.
Paradox can be used for humorous effects, for irony, for the communication of complex experiences. Consider a few lines from this Shakespearean sonnet :
In me thou see st the glowing of such fire,
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie.
As the deathbed whereon it must expire,
Consum’d with that which it was nourish’d by.
The whole concept of the fire here is paradoxical : it lies on the ashes of his youth, yet ashes belong not to the youth but to old age. Yet as a fire burns, it becomes ashes : what was a short time before a “young” fire rapidly becomes a dying fire, a bed of ashes. Its bed, the very core of the fire, becomes its death-bed whereon it must expire. The fire, is killed, eaten tip, consum’d by the very good that nourishd it : the wood fed the fire but also burned it out. The sonnet refers to the protagonist’s growing age : death is coming closer.
Symbol :
A Symbol is anything which stands for, or represents, or suggests something else. Our country’s flag symbolizes everything that our country means to us. In poetry, rose stands for beauty, winter for old age, spring for youth, road for life, sea for death. However, these symbols are not limited in their use. Sea can stand for life as well. If there is symbolism in the poem, it will work in harmony with all the other elements in the poem and it will enrich the mean­ing and total effect.
Ambiguity :
When a statement can be understood in more than one ways, it is considered as ambiguous. Ambiguity in poetry can achieve depth of meaning provided it is controlled and intentional.
Tone :
Tone helps to express certain attitudes. As a poem is an utterance addressed to some audience, the problem of attitude of the protagonist of the poem is important. The poet might be talking to himself as in a lyric or a meditative poem.

Kinds of Poetry

In view of the varied principles on which it is possible to classify poetic compositions it is safer for our purpose to adopt that which is most in vogue, viz. the one which divides poetry into three great classes : Lyrical, Narrative, and Dramatic. It is necessary to observe, however, at the very outset that this division cannot be made with any great precision for, as we shall see, in practically every narrative poem of any recognised merit, we have a good deal of the dramatic and the lyrical elements, and similarly, narration and song cannot be entirely excluded from dramatic poetry. These three kinds of poetry represent three distinct kinds of poetic activity.

The Subjective versus the Objective Poet :
The various kinds of poetry enable us to differentiate between the subjective and the objective poet. “Lyric writer is spoken of as the Subjective or Personal Poet”. A poet is called subjective when he finds inspiration for his work in his own thoughts, emotions, imagi­nation and experiences, and gives expression to his own personal feelings or impulses. When a poet describes the actions, sentiments, and experiences of his fellowmen and not his own, without any reference to his own views or feelings, he is regarded as an objective or impersonal artist. The subjective writer dives within himself, he steeps his theme in his own individuality and sensations ; the objective artist looks outside himself and treats his facts, scenes, characters, and situations, whether observed or imaginary, without drawing attention to his own emotions, reflections or personality. Thus, the Sonnets of Shakespeare or Milton are subjective, because in them we can trace their author’s sensations and views, but Homer’s Ilaid is objective, because it merely describes external facts, persons and events, whether historical or imaginary, and scarcely makes any revelation of the author’s self. Narrative poetry is, as a rule, objec­tive, as we shall see later on. We have tried to distinguish between the subjective and the objective kinds of poetry, but here again, it is necessary to put up a cautionary signal ; it is impossible to draw a sharp line between the two kinds, because, however impersonal the theme of the poet may be, he cannot entirely eliminate himself from his work.
What, then, is a lyric ? The dictionary defines ‘lyric’ as ‘of or pertaining to the lyre ; meant to be sung…Now the name for short poems, usually divided into stanzas or strophes, and directly express­ing the poet’s own thoughts and sentiments’. This definition shows how impossible it is to define the lyric. For instance, it can be argued that all poems except dramatic ones express ‘the poet’s own thoughts and sentiments’, and on the other hand that the lyric by no means always does so ‘directly’ : can we say that ‘Full fathom five’ or ‘O sunflower weary of time’ is a direct expression of the poet’s thoughts and sentiments ? Perhaps ‘immediate’ would be a better word. A lyric can indeed convey states of mind immediately—that is, without apparent context, without argument without comment by the poet. But this leads us into another difficulty, for many such lyrics cannot accurately be called expressions of the poet’s own states of mind : they are pure. or they are impersonal. Pure Poetry, in Mallarme’s sense of a poetry which aspires to the conditions of music, is rare in English : we find it, or something near to it, in certain of Shake­speare’s songs. possibility in Kubla Khan, in a few poems by Beddoes and Christina Rossetti, in Dobell’s The Orphan’s Song, in the non-sense verse of Lear and Carroll—poems from which prose meaning, rational sequence, the tendency of language to communicate through intellectual concepts, have all been excluded. Such poems either do not convey the poet’s state of mind at all, or express it in so oblique and rarefied a way as to render it unimportant for the reader. What is excluded in the impersonal poem is not” prose’ meaning and rational sequence but the poet’s human individuality. The Japanese haiku, the poems of the Imagists, much medieval English lyric—the carols, for example—are of this nature : we can gather from them little or nothing about the personality of their writers : whether they have ‘Anon’ or a poet’s name written beneath them, they sound equally anonymous.
Not all mediavel lyrics are impersonal. But the introduction of a personal note into the English lyric was rare till Wyatt. This development was very closely connected with a major, perhaps the greatest, revolution in English poetry—the gradual detaching of the lyric from music and the establishment of it as a form in its own right. So long as lyric poems were composed to be sung, the lyric remained subordinate to the exigencies of musical form ; and it was also limited by conventions laying down what subjects were appropriate for song, and often by certain conventional attitudes towards those subjects. The stock subject for lyrics throughout the 16th century was love, and the prevalent attitudes towards it were derived from the formal code of chivalry and the Courts of Love. Here and there in this period we find a poem which breaks away from such conventional limitations : Wyatt’s ‘They flee from me’ and ‘My lute awake’, or Drayton’s ‘Since there’s no help’, are poems in which the writer’s personality thrusts through the medium—poems which are the reverse of anonymous, and introduce a realism quite at variance with the traditions of the love song. But it is not till the end of the century that we find, in John Donne, a poet who, impatient both with the technical and the psychological fetters of lyrical tradition, con­sistently applied this realism to his love poetry, exploring the whole gamut of sexual feeling—its violent contradictions, its exorbitant passion, its directness and evasiveness, its idealism but also its disrespect.
Donne was seldom, in any strict sense, a lyric poet. But he and his followers won the revolution which liberated the lyric from its confinement within musical forms and Romance conventions : we can see his realism, diminished sometimes into cynicism or flippancy, in the lyrics of Caroline and Restoration poets : after Donne, a lyric could, theoretically at least, be about anything and written in any metre. Nevertheless, it remains true that not every state of mind, not every kind of rhythm or of language, is in practice adaptable to lyric.
Unless we throw in our hands and call any poem lyrical that is not epic, narrative, didatic or satiric, we simply must draw a line somewhere, on one side of which will be true lyrics, on the other side a mass of hybrids possessing some lyrical quality but mixed in with qualities derived from other kinds of poetry. My own tests for the true lyric are tests of mood, rhythm and language.
It is commonly accepted, if only in principle, that a lyric should be single-minded : it should present, that is to say, a mood or a state of mind which is unequivocal, undiluted, neither modified by intellectual reservations nor complicated by ironic overtones. It can be a cry straight from the heart (‘Western Wind ; when wilt thou blow’) : it may be, on the other hand, a frivolous or a patently ‘artificial’ poem, yet one which nevertheless gives an effect not only of simplicity but of spontaneity (e.g., Rochester’s Love and Life). In other words, it is a song—a form of words which whether written or music keeps something of the immediacy or the artful artlessness that reveals its musical ancestry.
The business of the lyric is to make words sing and dance, not to make them argue, moralise or speechify. For this reason, certain rhythms—differing in different languages—seen more natural to lyric-writing than others. In English, the heroic couplet or the blank verse line is an impossible medium for a love lyric ; and the iambic pentameter, so superb and flexible, and capable (as Pope proved) of infinite subtlety even when kept to its most regular syllabic form, is a meter intrinsically unlyrical. For this reason, we have included very few sonnets, although the sonnet form taken over by English poems from French and Italian was originally associated with music. The five-stress iambic line seldom produces a lyrical movement a four-or three-stress iambic line does, and so may a stanza in which five-stress lines are set in a pattern with shorter ones : why this should be so, we cannot explain. The anapaestic rhythm sound to us a more consistently lyrical one than the iambic. Yet it was little used by English lyricists till the 17th century, when its potentiality was shown in some of Dryden’s songs. Anapaestic rhythm, too regularly used, gives a mechanical and tedious effect, as witness Byron’s The Destruction of Sennacherib, or certain of Thomas Moore’s Irish Melodies and Swinburne’s poems. But a more tactful handling of the anapaest, varying it with the iamb, can produce a beautifully flexible lyrical rhythm—the dancing lilt we get in many of Browning’s and Hardy’s shorter poems.
Finally, there is the test of language. Here we are on much more debatable ground. It is not difficult to recognise lyrical rhythms, or the transparency and single-mindedness of the lyric : but is there such a thing as lyrical language, and if so, how do we identify it ? Suppose I take a line from a poem unknown to a given reader, and ask him to tell me, on the strength of this sample, whether the poem it comes from is a lyric ? For example,
Lo ! what a mariner love hath made me !
It could come from a play, or from a dramatic monologue. In fact, it is from a poem by Surrey which, we should call a lyrical poem. It is wrong, of course, to base any final judgments on isolated lines : we must consider the language of cacti poem as a whole, in relation with the poem’s rhythms and the purity or simplicity of the state of mind it is expressing. Also it would be ridiculous to suggest that there is only one kind of’ lyrical language : for instance, poets have managed to move far from the lyric’s source in song, and write poems in a colloquial language which nevertheless does not disqualify them as lyrics. Yet, although I can offer no all-embracing definition of lyrical language, I seem to be able to recognise this way of saying things when I meet it—and in lines so far removed from each other in time and subject and intensity as Drummond’s ‘A hyachinth I wished me in her hand’ and Heber’s ‘By coil Siloam’s shady rill’.
The most notable line of’ development in English lyrical verse can be traced in its power to deal seriously with a widening range of subject-matter, while preserving its lyrical character. Shakespeare in his sonnets, Donne in his love poems, explored far more deeply into the meanings of experience than any of their lyric predecessors. But their deployment of thought and syntactical patterns were generally too complex for these poems to come properly within my definition of the lyric. Seriousness, depth and resonance of meaning, allied to the authentic lyrical utterance as I hear it, appear most signally in Wyatt, in Shakespeare’s songs, in Marvell, in Blake’s Song of Experience, Wordsworth’s Lucy poems, a few of Emily Bronte’s, and more than few by Hardy and Yeats.
The lyric line appears to have considerable gaps. For instance, there was little good lyric writing between the end of the 17th century and the Romantics. But the 18th century was the great age of hymn-writing ; moreover. Charles Wesley, Isaac Watts and other hymn-writers took over for their own purpose the four-square metre which had been so commonly used in cynical or lascivious songs by Restoration lyricists—anticipating, no doubt, the Salvation Army’s sturdy refusal to let the Devil have all the best tunes. Again, the early 17th century for most of us means the Metaphysical poets, whose work is indeed one of the greater glories of English poetry. But its value was little recognised in their own time, and this kind of poetic thinking had too elaborate a dialectic for the lyrical mode-lyrics do not argue. We must remember. though, that while Herbert, Vaughan, Crashaw and other followers of Donne were writing, there were also lyrical poets at work, who were sometimes influenced by the great Metaphysicals and now seem overshadowed by them : Carew, Waller, Davenant, Suckling, Lovelace, for example, wrote lyrics the best of which have outlived their day.
The verse of the Cavalier poets and the Restoration lyricists may not much appeal to modern readers, who took for irony, tough thinking, sincerity, a roughened surface. These poets, with their smoothness, their rather facile paradoxes and antitheses, their apparent frivolity of attitude, must evidently be rated as minor writers. But we are ourselves disposed to reject lyrics which are technically so accomplished, which run easily, and display such verve, urbanity, or high spirits as those of Dryden, Rochester, Sedley, Gay. ‘Poetry does not have to be great or even serious to be good’, said W.H. Auden in his inaugural lecture of Oxford.
Anyone who has to work his way through the mass of minor verse produced in the 19th century may well regret the loss of that urbane poise and gaiety we find in Restoration lyrics. Pope and his followers made little use of the lyric form ; the Romantics used it for serious purpose. We can see the break most easily in Hood, who wrote some excellent lyrics but kept his lighter side for facetious, punning verse, and never the twain did meet. We have no Victorian writer, except Clough in a few passages of Amours de Voyage, who manages to be at once lyrical and amusing. The great Romantics certainly enlarged the scope of the lyric, as they enlarged human sensibility : very few earlier lyrics have the resonance of Wordsworth’s ‘A slumber did my spirit seal’, or even of Keats’ ‘In a drearnighted December’. But the spiritual pressure behind their finest lyrics was never equalled by their immediate successors. With the Victorians, the Romantic seriousness dwindled into solemnity and all too often into mawkishness. The Victorians did; however, extend the lyric in two directions : the detailed observation of nature––we get this from Tennyson, and Browning, from Patmore, D.G. Rossetti and Meredith, above all from Hopkins ; and the lyrical treatment of human relationships on more intimately personal lines than poets bad cared to attempt before.
Lyric poetry takes various forms, according to the nature of the emotion which inspires it. The various forms of lyric can be differentiated by the matter and the treatment in which that feeling. is expressed. The following are the chief forms of the lyric:
(i) The Lyrics of Religious Emotion, or Hymns : These are the outpourings of the poet’s soul not towards man but towards God and the supernatural. To this class belong the Psalms of David which exhibit to us this species of lyric poetry in its highest manifestation. The Hymns of the Rig-Veda also belong to this class.
(ii) Patriotic Songs: Akin to religious lyrics are patriotic or heroic songs. In these are sung the praises of national heroes, their warlike exploits and other great achievements, or the glory of ones native land. National songs are to be found among all peoples. A patriotic song may breathe the spirit not of the author alone but of an entire nation, as in the case of the French national anthem. The Marseillaise, or the Indian Vande Mataram. Campbell’s Ye Mariners of England, Walter Scott’s Breathes there the man with soul so dead, Moore’s Pro Patria Mori, W. E. Henley’s England and Kipling’s The Children’s Song are some of the best-known patriotic poems. Sublimity, elevation and sincerity must characterise both sacred and patriotic lyrics.
(iii) Love Lyrics : These are the outpouring of the sentiment of love, its bliss and tragedy, its joys, its hopes, and its disappoint­ments. The lyrics so inspired are very “numerous, and every litera­ture, particularly, perhaps, English literature, is rich in them. We have a whole array of them in Francis Palgrave’s The Golden Treasury. The Elizabethan Age of English literature was specially prolific in this respect, as in the works of Spenser (Epithalamion) Marione (Come live with me and be my love), Jonson (Drink to me only with thine eyes), and Shakespeare (Take, O take lips away), to mention no more.
(iv) Elegies : Elegy is derived from a Greek word for a song of mourning or a lament : it is a mournful or a plaintive lyric. Lucy’s Death in Wordsworth, Byron’s Thyrza, Cowper’s Loss of the Royal George are examples of lyrical elegies. Shelley’s Adonais and Tennyson’s In Memoriam, though elegies, are philosophical in their mood and long-drawn out in their treatment. Milton’s Lycidas and Matthew Arnold’s Thyrsis are spoken of as pastoral elegies because the mourners over the dead are represented as shepherds, the scene is laid amidst rural surroundings, and the other details and machinery of the poems are made to accord with the fiction of shepherds lament­ing over the death of one of themselves.
(v) The Sonnet : The sonnet is a short poem limited to fourteen lines” with a definite rhyme arrangement. The sonnet is of Italian origin, and Petrarch was the first great Italian sonneteer. This form of verse was introduced into England a little before the reign of Queen Elizabeth. In her reign there was a lively interest in sonnet writing, and some of the best sonnets in the English language are from the pen of Shakespeare. In the succeeding age Milton wrote very inspiring and perfectly modelled sonnets. In the Restoration Age this form of verse was almost neglected. The sonnet reappeared with the advent of Wordsworth, Byron, Keats and others of the Romantic Revival, and even at the present day it is a form which finds much favour with poets and the public.
The sonnet is, as we have said, a rhymed poem limited to four-teen lines ; each line is, as a rule, of five iambic fact. The fourteen lines are broken up into sets, a group of eight, called the octave, and a group of six, called the sestet. Sometimes, instead of eight conti­nuous lines, we have two stanzas of four lines each or two quatrains, and similarly, instead of one verse of six lines we have two or three lines each or two tercets. The rhyming arrangement is as follows : in the octave a, b, b, a, a, b, b, a, and in the sestet c, d, c, d, c, d, or c, d, e, c, d, e.
Narrative poems are so called because their principal function is to narrate what has actually happened, i.e., historical incidents, or what men believe to have happened i.e., myths and legends. Unlike lyrical poetry, such verse does present the feelings of the writer or his individual experiences or his thoughts, because he does not invent his facts. Narrative verse is entirely impersonal, except for the element of personality which the poet can convey to it by his style and his treatment of theme.
The following are the main types of the narrative poetry :
(i) Ballad : A narrative poem, usually simple \and fairly short, originally designed to be sung. Ballads often begin abruptly, imply the previous action, utilizing simple language, tell the story tersely through dialogue and described action, and make use of refrains. The folk ballads, which reached its height in England in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, was composed anonymously and handed down orally, often in several different versions. The literary ballad, consciously created by a poet in imitation of the folk ballad, makes use of many of its devices and conventions. Coleridge’s Rhime of the Ancient Mariner, Keats’s La Belle Dame Sans Merci, and Wilde’s Ballad of Reading Gaol are all literary ballads.
The chief quality of the genuine old ballads is their ‘simplicity and their artlessness—plainness of thought, plainness of diction and within their compass, nobility. In a ballad no moral is drawn, no analysis of feeling attempted, no detailed ornament introduced. It appeals by its rapidity of rhythm, its plainness of thought and diction and its inherent feeling of nobility.
(ii) Epic : These conventions, only some of which can be mentioned here, are followed by writers of epic with varying degrees of strictness. The poet begins by announcing his theme, invoking the aid of a muse, and asking her an epic question, with the reply to which the story begins. He then launches his action in medias res, in the middle of things. This action concerns a hero, a man of stature and significance ; Odysseus, for example, is the King of Ithaca, and Aeneas is the founder of the Roman Empire. In the course of the story, the hero performs many notable deeds, one of which is to descend into the under-world. The major characters are catalogued and des­cribed, many of them having dignified set speeches which reveal their characters. There are usually great battles in which the gods them-selves, who are regularly involved in epic stories, take part. Finally the epic poet adopts a style, dignified, elaborate and exalted, suitable to his theme.
Just as in the case of the ballad we have the primitive, and the literary ballads, so similarly in the case of the epic we have the early epics which, like the Mahabharata and the Iliad, were handed down during successive generations by word of mouth—wonderful feats of memory—and the later written epics like Dante’s The Divine Comedy or Milton’s Paradise Lost. The former are spoken of as the ‘epics of growth’, because it is believed that the small, separate, independent songs, celebrating single exploits of their heroes, were gradually put together to form the epic poem, which is not, therefore, in its entirety, the work of any one single author. Thus, it is held by some critics that the Iliad is a collection of lays or ballads, originally short, that were pieced together at a later date by some man or genius whose name may have been Homer. The epic of art or the literary epic, on the other hand, is the work of one single author.
The following are the basic characteristics of the epic, whether it is primitive or literary :
(a)  An epic is a narrative poem.
(b)  It is supposed to have a divine inspiration.
(c)  It deals with a subject of great and momentous importance for mankind.
(d)  The characters of the story are partly human and partly divine.
(e)  An epic poem must contain some one personage, distin­guished above all the rest, who is regarded as the hero of the tale. When there is one principal figure who is the centre of the various activities and enterprises, the unity of the action or plot is rendered more perceptible.
(f)  The epic action must have a beginning, a middle and an end, and to ensure this the author must either relate the whole story in his own person, or introduce some of his characters who will narrate to us the events that precede the opening of the poem. He must satisfy our curiosity in every detail. Thus, in Milton’s Paradise Lost, Satan tells us at the very begin­ning of the poem, in the First Book, the reason why he and his companions are following in a burning lake in Hell. There is no time limit to the duration of the action of an epic. The action of Paradise Lost extends whole ages. It is not essential that an epic should end successfully, i.e., with the victory of the hero, but it usually does, for an unhappy conclusion would have the effect of depressing the mind rather than a stimulating or elevating it.
Paradise Lost is a great epic of English literature which satis­fies the requirements of definition given above. Firstly, Paradise Lost is a narrative poem : it narrates the scriptural story of the creation of man, his temptation and fall, and his expulsion from Eden. There are many elements in the story, as told by Milton, which either do not agree with, or are in the nature of additions to the Biblical account ; these divergencies give scope for the exercise of the poet’s individuality, which, as we have said before, need not be entirely eliminated even in a narrative poem. Secondly, the real author of the epic is supposed to be the Holy Ghost, whose mouthpiece is the author. In the opening lines of Paradise Lost which, in the langu­age of criticism, are known as the ‘Invocation’, Milton invokes the Heavenly Muse, which is another name for the Divine Spirit, to sing
‘Of Man’s first disobedience, and the fruit
Of that forbidden tree, whose normal taste
Brought death into the world, and all our woe.’
Thirdly, the subject-matter of the epic, viz., the fall of Man and his. subsequent redemption by Christ is of stupendous import and significance for mankind. Lastly, besides Adam and Eve, the first human beings on our Earth, there are the three Divine Persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, introduced into the poem, not to speak of the supernatural agency of good and evil spirits that play such an important part in the development of the story.
(iii) Mock Epic : If a long narrative poem should satisfy all the tests of epic poetry, but if the subject which it celebrates be of a trivial nature, like the cutting off of a lock of a woman’s hair, which is the story that is related in Pope’s Rape of the Lock, then such a poem is called a Mock Epic. In a mock epic the poem is supposed to be the inspiration of a Muse, the characters are partly human and partly divine, and the language is stilted and grandiose, but the subject is of a very frivolous and unimportant character.
(iv) Allegory, Parable, Fable, Myth : Allegory is an extended narrative which carries a second meaning along with its surface story. Generally, the characters in an allegory do not have individual psychologies but are incarnation of abstract ideas and may bear such names as Lechery, Pride, Meekness, etc. An allegory may be prose narrative, such as Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progess, a poem, such as Spenser’s Faerie Queene, or a play, such as Everyman.
Allegory is classified into three categories. Firstly, it is religious. Pilgrim’s Progress is the greatest example in the prose form of the religious or spiritual allegory. It tells us of the journey of Christian, the pilgrim, from the City of Destruction to the Celestial City. The journey of Christian is an allegory of the experiences of the soul of a converted sinner going from darkness to light, from death to immortality. Dryden’s The Hind and the Panther is an example of a poetic allegory of religious disputes. Secondly, allegory is political. Dryden’s allegory Absalom and Achitophel is an example of political allegory in verse. In this poem the poet gives an account of the critical state of affairs in England in his own day under the guise of a story taken from the Bible ; contemporary characters are introduced in the semblance of figures from ancient Jewish history. Lastly, allegories lamenting over the wrongs of certain classes in society are called allegories. One such composition is The Vision concerning Piers the Ploughman of William Langland, which was written with the object of bringing about reform in social and ecclesiastical affairs in the England of Richard II’s time.
A Parable, which is a form of allegory, is a short tale or story, the incidents of which are taken from everyday experience, and are intended to suggest a moral or spiritual meaning e.g., the parable of the Sower, or that of the Prodigal Son, in the Bible.
The Fable differs from the Parable, inasmuch as it is not con-fined to ordinary events of everyday life. Dr. Johnson very well defined it thus : “A Fable or Apologue seems to be in its genuine state a narrative, in which begins irrational and sometimes inanimate are for the purpose of moral instruction feigned to act and speak with human interests and passions.” The fables of Aesop and in the Hitopadesa, the well-known Indian collection of ethical tales and fables, are of this nature. The greatest master in the art of fable-writing, in relatively modern times, was the Frenchman La Fontaine.
There is one other literary form which also contains a secondary meaning deeper than is evident from its surface. It is the Myth. The myth is a primitive way of expounding the mysteries of nature and life by parables, drawn from experience, which most people can under-stand. Max Muller’s view is that in early times men, being unable to form abstract conceptions, naturally described the simplest pheno­mena in nature in the same concrete terms which they would use to describe personal actions. Succeeding ages would interest what was originally a description of natural phenomena into a myth about a person or persons. As an instance in point we have the Sun-Myth referred to in our remarks on the origin of poetry.
(v) Didactic Poetry : From the earliest times, English poets have wished to teach their readers as well as to delight them. Poetry in which men set out to teach a lesson, or give a definition, or ex-press some point of view is called didactic. The lessons which they try to teach may be intensely practical, as in the case of jingles used in the old days to teach children the alphabet :
A is for Adam, who was the first man,
He broke God’s command, and thus sin began.
Or, the poet may simply define the ‘merry heart’ :
Jog on, jog on, the footpath way,
And merrily heart the stile-a :
A merry heart goes all the day,
Your sad tries in a mile-a.
Or again, he may give vent in verse to literary criticism or to philosophical speculation. Its function is to convey knowledge and instruction. In fact, didactic poems are sermons in verse. In all such poems which aim at instruction, their merit depends on sound thoughts, correct principles, clear and apt illustration. Among the Romans the greatest didactic, or, more properly, philosophical writer is Lucretius, who wrote a long poem in six books called De Rerum Nature (On the Nature of Things), in which he expounds his atomic philosophy. In English literature Pope’s Essay on Criticism and Essay on Man belong to the class of purely didactic verse.
(vi) Satire : It is ridicule of an idea, a person or type of person, or even mankind. Satire has been used from Classical times to mock human vices and frailities. In his verse satires the Roman writer Horace, scoffing gently at man’s foibles, is amused rather than sternly indignant, whereas Juvenal, severe in his reaction to man’s vices, expresses his moral displeasure with trenchant force. In the Elizabethan Age, John Donne, John Marston and Joseph Hall wrote poetical satires ; their works lack artistic finish, and is coarse rather than witty. In the seventeenth century, Dryden wrote a number of satires : political (Absalom and Achitophel), personal (Mac Flecknoe), religious (The Rind and the Panther). After him came Alexander Pope, the great master of verse satire. The Dunciad, or The Progress of Dulness, in which most of the writers who had the misfortune to incur the enmity of Pope are pilloried, and some of his Epistles, masterpieces of their kind.
(vii) Epistles in Verse : All Epistles in verse are not neces­sarily satiric. An epistle, in its original meaning, is a letter addressed to an absent person ; at the present day we use the term only of letters of an ancient time or of elaborate literary productions which are, or pretend to be, intended for real or imaginary modelled on the Epistles of the Roman writer Horace, which are more or less essays on moral or philosophical subjects. They are chiefly distinguished from other poems by being addressed to particular patrons or friends. Verse epistles need not be confined to moral or critical subjects, for poems of love as well as elegiac poems have been cast into this form. The Epistle in verse was not unknown in the Elizabethan Age. Samuel Daniel used it. Later on, Dryden excelled in this class of poetry (Epistles to the Duchess of Ormond and to Congreve) as did John Gay and William Congreve, but the greatest writer of Epistles in English is Pope (Eloisa to Abelard ; The Epistle to Arbuthnot). Eloisa’s epistle to Abelard is an instance of the sentimental, and the one to Arbuthnot of the didactic form.
(vii) Pastoral Poetry : Pastoral Poetry ‘exhibits to us a life with which we are accustomed to associate the ideas of peace, of leisure and of innocence ; and, therefore, we readily set open our hearts to such representations as promise to banish from our thought the cares of the world and so they transport us into calm Elysian regions. At the same time no subject seems to be more favourable to poetry. Amidst rural objects nature presents, on all hands, the finest field for description ; and nothing appears to flow more of its own accord, into poetical numbers, than rivers and mountains, meadows and hills, flocks and trees, and shepherds void of care.’ A successful pastoral poem, according to the writer just quoted, must give us the idea of a rural state in which there is ease, equality and innocence ; where the shepherds are gay and agreeable, without being learned and refined, and fain and artless without being gross and wretched. They must not be made to discourse, as they are made to do in some poems, as if they were courtiers or scholars, for then the poem would lack the true spirit of a Pastoral.
The Pastoral like the Sonnet was introduced into England from Italy during the Elizabethan period, and Edmund Spencer was one of the earliest to adopt this form in The Shepherd’s Calendar, which was eclipsed by the success of Sir Philip Sidney’s pastoral prose romance, Arcadia. The convention was extremely popular during the sixteenth century, and it was only towards the middle of the seventeenth century that its vogue expired. Phineas Fletcher was the last of the pastrol writers of this age. The fashion was revived for a little while in the eighteenth century, when Allan Ramsay published The Gentle Shepherd in 1725. In our own time this form has found little favour with poets.
(ix) Eclogues and Idylls : Eclogues and Idylls are terms used loosely in modern literary criticism to denote the same kind of Pastrol Poems. Eclogue originally meant a short pastoral dialogue in verse ; and Idyll comes from a Greek word which signifies a descriptive piece or little picture. Both these terms are used indiscriminately of a short poem of pastrol or rural character, which aims at depicting the simple incidents in the life of simple country-folks—the loves and jealousies of sheperds.
Tennyson in his Idylls of the King has used the word in a differ­ent sense. He used it to denote not a poem dealing with pastoral or rural life but a picture-poem, which gives an elaborate and com­plete representation of any scene of life, and which contains one leading idea.
“Idyllic” in English generally suggests a pastoral or rural setting. We may speak of Goldsmith’s The Vicar of Wakefield or of Hardy’s Under the Greenwood Tree as idyllic novels, because they paint the simple life of the country-side.

What is this Thing––Poem?

Poetry Appeals to the Imagination :
When we read in a novel that the heroine, as she looked out into the moonlit winter night, quoted softly to herself :
Deep on the convent-roof the snows
Are sparkling to the moon,

it does give us pleasure if we recognize the poem ; but it gives us pleasure even if we do not. The reason is not far to seek. Poetry stimulates the imagination. It enables us to see in our imagination the beauty of the snow ‘sparkling to the moon’ and to feel the cold stillness of the winter night. It recreates for us the beauty of ‘October’s Bright Blue Weather’ :
When on the ground red apples lie
In piles like jewels shining,
And redder still on old stone walls
Are leaves of woodbine twining.
In the dead of winter ‘The Vision of Sir Launfal’ carries us back to June when
The cowslip startles in meadows green, and
The buttercup catches the sun in its chalice.
There is no wonderland to which poetry cannot take us through the imagination, whether it be deep under the sea in
Sand-strewn caverns, cool and deep
Where the winds are all asleep ;
Where the spent lights quiver and gleam
Where the salt weed sways in the stream
or in that ideal land of
Magic casements, opening on the foam
Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn.
Poetry takes us back into the Middle Ages with Keats in ‘The Eve of St. Agnes’ or leaves us
Alone, alone, all, all alone,
Alone on a wide, wide sea
with the Ancient Mariner. It transports us to a snowbound New England homestead,
Content to let the north-wind roar
In baffled rage at pane and door,
with Whittier, or brings us once more to the time when
A boy’s will is the wind’s will,
And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts.
Small wonder, then that poetry is universally read. Through its appeal to the imagination it offers us the surest escape from the stern reality of facts.
Appreciation of Great Poetry Comes Gradually :
Of course, the inexperienced reader need not expect to get an emotional reaction from all great poetry as soon as he reads. There are certain stages along this journey toward appreciation of imaginative beauty, and it is far better to begin with spontaneous enjoyment of Longfellow, Lowell, and Whittier than to give up poetry in disgust just because one can see nothing to ‘Lycidas’, ‘Comus’, ‘Prometheus Unbound’, or ‘Saul’. If you have never cared much for poetry, why not begin with some popular story poem ? Almost every boy likes Kipling, and who is to blame a boy if he gets a thrill out of ‘Gunga Din’ ? On the other hand, who is to blame you if, having been dragged to the Pierian spring of Milton, you refuse to drink thereof ? It is not without preparation that one comes to enjoy :
Hence, vain deluding Joys,
The brood of Folly without father bred !
How little you bested,
Or fill the fixed mind with all your toys !
Dwell in some idle brain,
And fancies fond with gaudy shapes possess,
And thick and numberless
As the gay notes that peoples the sun-beams,
Or likest hovering dreams,
The fickle pensioners of Morpheus’ train.
But, hail ! thou Goddess, sage and holy !
Hail, divinest Melancholy !
It is useless to tell you to hail ‘divinest Melancholy’ if you cannot, from your perspective, see that ‘II Penseroso’ is a better poem than ‘Gunga Din’. But there are fine poems that everyone can enjoy : ‘Fuzzy-Wuzzy,’ the ‘big black boundin’ beggar’ who broke a British square ; ‘Danny Deever,’ whom ‘they’re hangin’ in the mornin’; ‘The-Highwayman,’ who ‘rode with a jewelled twinkle…under the jeweled sky’—to say nothing of Dauber, Right Royal, The Everlasting Mercy, and Enslaved, or Chesterton’s superb ‘Lepanto’ with its
Dim drums throbbing, in the hills half heard,
Stiff flags straining in the night-blasts cold
In the gloom black-purple, in the glint old-gold,
Torchlight crimson on the copper kettle-drums,
Then the tuckets, the trumpets, then the cannon, and he comes
Don John laughing in the brave beard curled,
Spurning in his stirrups like the throne of all the world,
Holding his head up for flag of all the free.
Love-light, of Spain—hurrah !
Death-light of Africa !
Don John of Austria
Is riding to the sea.
Poetry Sharpens Appreciation of Nature :
Once you have acquired a taste for poetry, however, you should not miss the pleasure that comes from reading poems that have nothing to do with stories at all, poems that picture in words the world about you. Perhaps it is ‘Sea-Fever’ with :
a gray mist on the sea’s face and a gray dawn breaking,
a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.
or the woods of Robert Frost, so ‘lovely, dark and deep,’ or Kew in lilack time where
The cherry-trees are seas of bloom and soft perfume and sweet perfume.
Perhaps it is Rupert Brooke’s ‘Grantchester’ :
Ah God ! to see the branches stir
Across the moon in Grantchester !
To smell the thrilling-sweet and rotten
Unforgettable, unforgotten
River-smell and hear the breeze
Sobbing in the little trees,
Or Amy Lowell’s ‘The Garden by Moonlight’ with
A black act among roses,
Phlox, lilac-misted under a first-quarter moon,
The sweet smells of heliotrope and night-scented stock,
or Walter De la Mare’s ‘April Moon,’ that bring,
More lovely shade than light.
That, setting silvers, lonely hills
Upon the verge of night.
Poetry Intensifies Enjoyment of Common Experiences:
At other times, human sympathy is so direct and artless that it meets with immediate and universal human response. That is why most of us understand at once the feeling of Rupert Brooke’s ‘The Great Lover’ :
These I have loved :
White plates and cups, clean-gleaming,
Ringed with blue lines ; and feathery, faery dust ;
Wet roofs, beneath the lamp-light ; the strong crust
Of friendly bread ; and many-fasting food ;
Rainbows ; and the blue bitter smoke of wood ;
And radiant raindrops couching on cool flowers ;
And flowers themselves that sway through sunny hours,
Dreaming of moths that drink them under the moon :
Then, the cool kindliness of sheets, that soon,
Smooth away trouble ; and the rough male kiss
Of blankets ; grainy wood ; live hair that is
Shining and free ; blue-massing clouds ; the keen
Unpassioned beauty of a great machine ;
The bension of hot water ; furs to touch ;
Voices in laughter, too ; and body’s pain,
Soon turned to peace ; and the deep-panting train ;
Firm sands ; the little dulling edge of foam
That browns and dwindles as the wave goes home ;
And washen stones, gay for an hour ; the cold
Gravenness of iron ; moist black earthen mold ;
Sleep ; and high places ; footprints in the dew ;
And oaks ; and brown horse-chestnuts, glossy-new ;
And new-peeled sticks ; and shining pools on grass—
All these have been my loves.
All these are very simple poems about simple experiences, and yet they have given a great deal of pleasure to many people, a pleasure which you, too, can easily share.
Cleanth Brooks, in the Preface to his book, Understanding Poetry, writes ;
Poetry gives us knowledge. It is a knowledge of ourselves in relation to the world of experience, and to that world con­sidered, not statistically, but in terms of human purposes and values. Experience considered in terms of human purposes and values is dramatic—dramatic in that it is concrete, in that it involves a process, and in that it embodies the human effort .to arrive—through conflict—at meaning. We know that to con­ceive of poetry as knowledge is not the only possible way of conceiving it. It is, however, our basic assumption, clung to for many years, and it would be disingenuous not to state it as the assumption behind this book.
What Brooks insists here is that the effect of a poem should be viewed in the context of the whole. We can get at the effect of this “whole” by finding “a way to contemplate, and perhaps to comprehend, our human urgencies.”
In poetry, the poet attempts to communicate attitudes, feelings, and interpretations, including ideas. It is in this matter that poetry can be differentiated from the ordinary speech. This does not, however, imply that poetry relates to things other than those relating to our ordinary life. In fact, it can be based on the incidents of our ordinary life. Brooks says that it is a “specialization of, thoroughly universal habits of human thinking and feeling.”
Poetry is not a substitute for a particular emotion in our life. A poem about grief would not help the reader to get rid of his tears. It is just not the case. It is only an attempt to portray a particular experience which can evoke different responses from different readers. When we define poetry as “an expression of pure realization or of emotion”, what the critic aims is a bit of getting away from the moralistic approach to the understanding of poetry. The use that the poet makes of certain emotions and attitudes is important in poetry, not the emotions and attitudes themselves.
Brooks points to this difficult problem of defining a poem in the following lines :
“……a poem is not to be thought of as merely a bundle of things which are “poetic” in themselves. Nor is it to be thought of, as the “message hunters” would seem to have it, as a kind of box, decorated or not, in which a “truth” or a “fine senti­ment” is hidden……”
There have been various popular misconceptions about the nature of poetry. Some of these have been pointed out by Professor Kreuzer in his book, Elements of Poetry :
……To some people, poetry is an unimportant luxury enjoyed only by “high-brows” with plenty of time to waste. To others, poetry is pleasantly rhythmical writing concerned with such trivial matters as daffodils fluttering in the breeze. To still others, poetry is merely something to be written when one is in the early stages of adolescent love. There are those, too, who believe that poetry consists of needlessly obscure verbiage that can be understood only by an odd few who set themselves apart. To many people, poetry is that which is recited with gestures by children or by politicians at flag-day ceremonies and ele­mentary school commencements. Finally, there are those who regard poetry as writing to be read in the same way as the daily newspaper is read.
Poetry is an art which appeals to man’s aesthetic sense, his awareness of and pleasure in beauty. Poetry creates beauty through rhythm and through sound through the pictures it produces, through the feelings it stimulates, through the thoughts it evokes, through the characters it portrays, through its special use of language, through what it says and what it leaves unsaid.
It would be better to refer to some of the important statements on poetry to get a clear idea of what a poem is. These statements include the pronouncements of those who were either poets or critics or both. Such a collection of statements will have an additional advantage in so far as these would help the student to take note of the shifting perspectives on the nature of poetry, or for that matter, of a poem.
Only the poet……lifted up with the vigor of his own Invention, doth grow in effect another nature, in making things either better than Nature bringeth forth, or quite anew, forms such as never were in Nature, as the Heroes, Demi-gods, Cyclops, Chimeras, Faries, and such like……Nature never set forth the earth in so rich a tapestry as diverse poetry have done, neither with pleasant rivers, fruitful trees, sweet-smelling flowers, nor whatsoever else may make the too much loved earth more lovely. Her world is brazen, the poets only deliver a golden.
—Sir Phillip Sidney : An Appologie For Poetrie (1595)
The poet’s eye, in a fine frenzy rolling,
Doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven;
And, as imagination bodies forth
The form of things unknown, the poet’s pen
Turns them to shapes, and gives to airy nothing
A local habitation and a name.
—William Shakespeare : A Mid-summer Night’s Dream
A poem should be palpable and mute
As a globed fruit
As old medallions to the thumb
Silent as the sleeve-worn stone
Of casement ledges where the moss has grown
A poem should be wordless
As the flight of birds
A poem should be motionless in time
As the moon climbs
×         ×         ×         ×
Leaving, as the noon releases
Twig by twig the night-entangled trees,
Leaving, as the moon behind the winter leaves,
Memory by memory the mind––
A poem should be motionless in time
As the moon climbs
×         ×         ×         ×
A poem should be equal to ;
Not true
For all the history of grief
An empty doorway and a maple leaf
For love
The leaning grasses and two lights above the sea––
A poem should not mean
But be.
—Ars Poetica : Archibald Macleish
A poem is that species of composition, which is opposed to works of science, by proposing for its immediate object pleasure, not truth ; and from all other species— (having this object in common with it)—it is discriminated by proposing to itself such delight from the whole, as is compatible with a distinct gratification from each component part……It (a legitimate poem) must be one, the parts of which
mutually support and explain each other ; all in their proportion harmonizing with, and supporting the purpose and known influences of, metrical arrangement. The poet, described in ideal perfection, brings the whole soul of man into activity, with the subordination of its faculties to each other according to their relative worth and dignity.
—S.T. Coleridge
The experience of a poem is the experience both of a moment and of a life time. It is very much like our intenser experiences of other human beings. There is a first, or an early moment which is unique, of shock and surprise, even of terror (Ego dominus tuus) ; a moment which can never be forgotten, .but which is never repeated integrally; and yet which would become destitute of significance if it did not survive in a larger whole of experience; which survives inside a deeper and calmer feeling. The majority of poems one outgrows and out ives, as one outgrows and outlives the majority of human passions: Dante’s is one of those which can only just hope to grow up to at the end of life.
— T.S. Eliot : The Experience of Poetry
Poetry is not the expression of personality, but an escape from personality…… The poet has not a ‘personality’ to express, but a
particular medium, which is only a medium and not a personality, in which impressions and experiences combine in peculiar and unexpected ways.
—T.S. Eliot
The poet is the father who begets the poem which the language bears.
— W. H. Auden
The rudiment of criticism is the ability to select a good poem and reject a bad poem ; and the most severe test of its ability to select a good new poem, to respond properly to a new situation. The experience of poetry, as it develops in the conscious and mature persons, is not merely the sum of the experiences of good poems. Education in poetry requires an organization of these experiences. There is not one of us who is born with or who suddenly acquires at puberty or later, an infallible discrimination and taste. The person whose experience is limited is always liable to be taken by the sham or the adulterate article ; and we see generation after generation of untrained readers being taken in by the sham and the adulterate in its own time––indeed preferring them, for they are more easily assimilable than the genuine article. Yet a very large number of people, I believe, have the native capacity for enjoying some good poetry, how much, or how many degrees of capacity may profitably be distinguished is not part of my present purpose to inquire. It is only the exceptional reader, certainly, who in the course of time comes to classify and compare his experiences, to see one in the light of others ; and who, as his poetic experiences multiply, will be able to understand each more accurately. The element of enjoyment is enlarged into appreciation, which brings a more intellectual addi­tion to the original intensity of feeling. It is a second stage in our understanding of poetry, when we no longer merely select and reject, but organize. We may even speak of a third stage, one of reorgani­zation ; a stage at which a person already educated in poetry meets with something new in his own time, and finds a new pattern of poetry arranging itself in consequence.
—T.S. Eliot : The Appreciation of Poetry
It is important to hold fast to this : that poetry is at bottom a criticism of life ; that the greatness of a poet lies in his powerful and beautiful application of ideas to life.
—Matthew Arnold
The end of poetry is to produce excitement in co-existence with an overbalance of pleasure.
—William Wordsworth
All good poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feel­ings.
—William Wordsworth
Poetry is the breath and finer spirit of all knowledge ; it is the impassioned expression which is the countenance of all science.
—William Wordsworth
Poetry, in a general sense. may be defined to be ‘the expression of the imagination’ and poetry is connected with the origin of man.
—P.B. Shelley
A poem is the very image of life expressed in its eternal truth.
—P.B. Shelley
Poets are the trumpets that sing to battle, they are the un­acknowledged legislators of the world.
—P.B. Shelley
Poetry should be brief, passionate, intense.
—Edgar Allan Poe
The poet is a man who has a greater knowledge of human nature and a more comprehensive soul than are supposed to be common among mankind.
—William Wordsworth
Primarily poetry is an exploration of the possibilities of lan­guage. It does not aim directly at consolation or moral exhortation ; nor at the expression of exquisite moments, but at an extension of significance ; and it might be argued that a too self-conscious con­cern with ‘contemporary’ problems deflects the poet’s efforts from his true objective.
––Michael Roberts
I would say that the poet may write about anything provided that that thing matters to him to start with for then it will bring with it into the poem the intellectual or moral significance which it has for him in life.
––Louis Marneice
A Poet ! — He hath put his heart to school,
Nor dares to move unpropped upon the staff
Which Art hath lodged within his hand—must laugh
By precept only, and shed tears by rule.
Thy Art be Nature ; live current quaff
—William Wordsworth
Poetry means the best words in the best order.
—S.T. Coleridge
What is poetry ? The suggestion, by the imagination, of noble grounds for the noble emotions.
—John Ruskin
No man was ever yet a great poet, without being at the same time a profound philosopher.
—S.T. Coleridge
The business of a poet, said Imlac, is to examine, not the individual, but the species ; … he does not number the streaks of the tulip or describe the different shades in the verdure of the forest.
—Samuel Johnson
To pass on to posterity one’s own language more highly developed, more refined and more precise than it was before one wrote it, that is the highest possible achievement of the poet as poet.
––T.S. Eliot
A good poet is someone who manages, in a lifetime of standing out in thunderstorms, to be struck by lightning five or six times ; a dozen or two dozen times and he is great.
—Randall Jarrell

When I Read a Poem…

This is how the chapter should begin. Every student faces this problem, and the answer should come in the space indicated by……Whether it is the reading of a poem for enjoyment, or for examination purposes, the student has to answer the question in a highly per­sonalized form : When I read a poem, what happens to me ? A poem is a living entity, an organism and a complete whole in itself.

Thus, it demands a response, the reaction to this stimulus in verbal form and an expression to the vibrations in our person the moment we read it. It may be very difficult to explain the process by which a poem touches the various strings in our heart, yet the reaction in its final form is our answer. The process is mysterious and the student has to grope in the dark recesses of his heart with the aid of his sharp intelligence (manifested in his perceptive powers) and sympathetic outlook.

When I read a poem, what do I look for in it ? To put the question in this manner is a little naive. The literary “pundit” may pounce on me by saying that I am advocating preconceived notions. With the look of a large-hearted philosopher on his face, he might tell me that I should “go” to the poem with an open, receptive and sympathetic mind. But I would stick to my question, if not for our literary ‘pundit’, at least for our students for whom poetry apprecia­tion is to begin through a process of training and exercise. There are various things which a beginner needs to look for while tackling a poem. These may largely be grouped as : content and technique and the overall impression. What is the subject-matter of the poem in terms of the prose statement and the various subtleties arising out of it, would be covered under the first group. What is the form that this subject-matter evolves for itself, for its verbal expression, would be the concern of the second group. The second group would tend to account for various poetical devices with help of which the feel­ings intended to be conveyed are brought into focus. The third group would require the reader to sum up his impression of the poem. This may roughly be considered as satisfying, stimulating or not so satisfying. Given literary terms, it may refer to the tone and the I armonious combination of content and technique.
All these would be dealt with at great length in the subsequent chapters. What is of concern here is the background which every student needs before he is exposed to an exercise in practical criticism of poetry. All this is only systematic following of a set plan which has to be imposed on the book. It has already been made clear that there are no fixed laws for the appreciation of poetry, it is Only the student point of view that guides us to talk in this manner. As has been intelligently pointed out by Elizabeth Drew :
“It (the task of criticism) is not to lay down laws for what is good or bad in poetry, nor to be like a college professor des­cribed in one of the novels of H. G. Wells : “He was one of those who teach us how to appreciate poetry and prose, and when to say Oh ! and Ah ! and when to shake one’s head about it discouragingly like a bus conductor who is proffered a doubt­ful coin.” The aim of any critic who is a lover of poetry must be to make the reading of it an exploration, which constantly reveals new insights to the reader about himself as well as about the writers and writing of poems. It must be an invita­tion to look, to listen, to linger in the presence of poetry and to feel its spell.”
Appreciation of poetry thus becomes an education of the mind, profitable for its own sake.
The Age:
A poem, as an organism, is a product of many-fold things which the reader has to unravel for himself. As a poem is born in a particular time, a period and in a particular set of socio-cultural circumstances, it presents in some way or the other a mirror of the conventions, fashions, tastes and values of the period in which it was written. When the reader concerns himself with this aspect of the poem, he assumes the role of a socio-cultural historian. He considers the representativeness of the poet as a witness, he extends his inquiry into the socio-cultural history of the period and into the other writings of the poet. It is through this process, through diving deep into journals, magazines, books and other records, that the reader is enabled to form a picture about the age in question. Such an approach has been widely propagated by critical authorities like Edmund Wilson and Lionel Trilling, and by cultural historians like Spengler and Toynbee. A warning at this stage would not be out of place. Such an approach should not be practised in isolation. A poem, to some extent, does exist outside its age, or, let us say, exists within itself and for itself. Merely guided by this historical approach to criticism, the reader would be blinding himself to other insights, quite significant in their own right.
The Poet Himself :
A poem may refer to some aspect of the poet’s own life, his intense experiences of varying nature or at times his own dissatisfactions and satisfactions. This helps a reader to assert that art basically is a highly personalized form. It is later that a dimension of objec­tivity is granted to it. It is the intense heat caused by the magnitude of an experience that inspires an individual to seek different outlets. Our poet seeks the outlet in his creative work. Thus a poem throws sufficient light on the poet s manner of life, his qualities of mind and the structure of his personality. This general line of inquiry has a long tradition extending from Longinus in antiquity to the critical writings of such moderns as T.S. Eliot, Kenneth Burke and Ernest Jones. Much of the aid has been provided by advances in the science of psychology, the credit of which should go to pioneer psychologists like Freud, Jung, Adler and William James and many others. Elizabeth Drew refers to this aspect in a very lucid manner :
“……For though the sociologists tell us that man’s basic needs are food, sleep, shelter and sexual fulfillment, it seems that he has always had another need—something that on the face of it seems quite superfluous and useless—the urge to self-creation in art. Life under natural conditions may be, as Hobbes des­cribed it, “nasty, brutish and short”, but one of the things that has always distinguished man from his brothers the brutes, is his compulsion to make things of beauty out- of his own experience which embody his consciousness in some more endur­ing form. Even in his most primitive stage he adorned his cave walls with drawings. As he developed his civilizations, he fashioned jewellery and metal work and decorated his dishes and pots and funeral urns. He danced and chanted rhythmical incantations, and for the last two to three thousand years we have records of how he used his speech, not only for the utilitarian purpose of communicating directly with his fellows but to create in musical patterns the stories of his people and the records of his thoughts, his feelings and his sensations.”
The psychologist Jung bases a great deal of his observation of psychological phenomena on the existence of what he calls the Collec­tive Unconscious. He sees this as an inherited storehouse of related images and of large symbolic patterns which he thinks exists un­consciously within every human being. He believes this inheritance accounts for the appearance of these same patterns again and again in dream, in myth, and in imaginative art. Whether, the presence of a collective unconscious can be proved is very uncertain, but it is quite certain that literature can well be called the written record of the collective consciousness of man. “Man is the great venture in consciousness” said D.H. Lawrence, and we have an inheritance of thousands of years of this growing consciousness recorded in script on papyrus and vellum and parchment, and for the last five hundred years in the printed word.
Dramatic Images of Human Condition :
Poetry represents human condition, and the manifestation of human condition is in the form of verbal expression. It is bound to influence a reader’s life, his thoughts, his reactions to certain situations which were previously set or interpreted in a particular manner. Looked from this angle, the reader is stimulated to ask questions about the moral implications of the human action, the probability and fidelity of the dramatic representation, the quality of the characters and actions enumerated and the overall line of thinking embedded in the work. The reader may then go on to compare the breadth, complexity and truth of the vision of life that it portrays with that of the other poet or poets. This can be called, in broad terms, as relating literature to life, the social commitment of literature. Plato, Sidney, Shelley, Arnold, Bradley and T.S. Eliot are some of the critics who have heralded such a message in their writings.
The Poem Itself :
This is yet another approach to poetry appreciation. The reader, here, has to concern mainly with the poem without paying any attention to the historical background, the moral implications or the insights in the personality of the poet. The poem in itself assumes utmost significance, becomes an independent entity. It is here that the reader comes under the direct influence of what has been termed as New Criticism ; “Damn the other things, read just the poem,” is their clue. A poem comes into being because the poet makes it, gives it a design according to certain impulses which guide him at that creative moments The reader, in such a state, has to concentrate on the way the poet plays with the words. As we read widely the work of a poet, we begin to develop an awareness of a characteristic style. It may be elevated than ordinary speech (Milton), fastidious and exotic (Wallace Stevens), wittily urbane (W.H. Auden), sensuously opulent (John Keats), plain and straightforward (Edwin Muir) or casual and colloquial (Robert Frost). There may be many more ‘terms, for styles are highly individualized in nature. The next stop for the reader is to seek out the device of language which produces such a characteristic in an individual’s style. Is it in the choice of words that the poet’s individuality is marked ? The words chosen by the poet may be concrete or abstract, long or short, technical or everyday, strange or familiar, standard or belonging to dialects. Does the poet use the normal order of sentence construc­tion or inverts it ? Is he economical or generous’ in the use of modifiers ? Does he prefer simple or complex sentences? Does he withhold his meaning until the end of the sentence ? Does he rely heavily on similes and metaphors ? What. is the areas of experience from which these devices are derived ? Does he make use of sym­bolism ? , Is he fond of allusions ? Does he have a marked preference for certain kinds of metres and stanza forms ? Does he like to work out intricate relations between the stanza structure and the evolution of thought and feeling in the poem, or is he more content with a flexible blank verse that stamps no definite mould on the turns of thought ? Such questions as these do not exhaust the stylistic devices that may contribute to the distinctive quality of a poet’s style, these however act as guidelines for the beginner.
The Material Represented :
We come back to our original proposition : the content or subject-matter of the poem. What are the feelings, kinds of persons or ideas that the poet prefers to represent in his work ? With the vast poetical work with us, we can say that poets prefer a certain area of experience more than others for their work. Browning’s emphasis has been on human relationship, Frost’s on happenings of nature, Wordsworth’s on personal problems of value and conduct, etc. In almost every area of creative choice the possibilities are endless. The characters may range from grave and lofty to flippant and insignificant, from emotionally expensive to stoically restrained, from innocent to sophisticated, from exuberant to world-weary.
The Response :
After the reader has one through the fundamental acquaintance with the subject-matter and the various techniques and approaches, he has to tackle the problem of emotional response to this created whole. Is it pity, indignation, laughter, sympathy or surprise ? The problem of the emotional response to a poem is difficult in its nature. Readers with differing backgrounds would react to the same poem in different ways. Each may see a different thing in the poem. How-ever, training tunes one to being more objective in the response. As one reads more of a poet’s work, one learns to discriminate in a better way. This response would be guided by the way the poet has chosen to present his work. Here the reader is confronted with terms like the point of view, selection of detail, ordering of parts and the way these parts are handled. Some poets are fond of elaborating the circumstances which give rise to the lyric activity before presenting the activity itself. Others plunge immediately into the experience of feeling or thinking and withhold its causes until the end or leave them to be inferred. Some poets prefer to make the connections between one thought and the other to be solved by the reader. In different kinds of poems—expository, narrative, lyrical or dramatic—the poet will have different choices.
A Central Poetic Concern or the Poet’s Vision :
Is there some central poetic concern or some pervasive view of the world engaging the artist’s attention over a period of time which explains his predilection for certain poetic contexts, certain lyric utterances are exclamatory, marked by the strong but irregular rhythms of passionate speech, and intensified by heavy alteration, Internal rhyme, and onomatopoetic effects. And most characteristic of all, his impatient urgency causes him to jam nouns together without the connectives that normally accompany deliberate speech.
It is always important to remember that a poet may have more than one poetic vein, that he may work in a variety of modes. Indeed, it is useful to distinguish between poets who have but one voice and those who have many. It is also important to remember that a poet may undergo development during his artistic career. William Butler Yeats, for example, began as a romantic poet aiming at nebulous and tenuous effects, but in mid-career he began to sense the powers of plainess and directness in poetry. Thus, in seeking the poet’s vision, you will do well to keep in mind the possibility of diversity.
It may have occurred to you by now that the effort to define a poet’s vision can be an interesting inquiry in its own right. To grow familiar with the particular quality of an artist’s imagination, to observe the range of his interests, and to trace out how his imagina­tion forms, certain techniques of representation, and certain devices of diction ? This notion of a central poetic concern—what we have called the poet’s vision—might be understood if we think of a poet as having a particular susceptibility to certain kinds of experience, or a pre-occupation with certain moral or intellectual problems, or a reliance upon certain assumptions about life. These susceptibilities, pm-occupation, or assumptions are about life. These susceptibili­ties, pre-occupations may operate at moments of inspiration in influencing the many choices that creative writing requires.
The poetic vein that seems to nourish much of Hopkin’s poetry, for example, is his susceptibility to moments of intense religious feeling, a feeling that ranges from a fervent joy and wonder at manifes­tations in nature of “God’s grandeur”—a kestrel riding the air, a kingfisher in a flashing dive, or a fresh spring day, to agonizing despair when he feels no longer sustained by God’s grace. His interest in such manifestations is influenced by his technological as­sumption that each thing has its own peculiar essence and that when that essence is expressed in the proper functioning of the object or living being, God’s glory is most fully revealed. But whether he feels in or out of a state of grace, Hopkins tends to write lyrics portraying intense movements of passion. Consequently his poems begin at a fever pitch, elaborate a single burst of thought or feeling, and are soon done (the sonnet provides his favourite stanza pattern). H. and his interests are bodied forth in his art and are always increasing your awareness of human possibilities. But more important, an understanding of the poet’s vision allows you to return to his poems as a better reader and critic. Having learned to recognize his special habits of language, his favourite contexts, and his preferred techniques for disclosing his subject, you will be that much more adept at coming to artistic terms with any one of his poems ; and, having surveyed the range of his work, you will be that much more able to see how that poem was, perhaps, a tentative experiment, or that it achieved a triumphant solution to a persistent problem, or that it merely repeated earlier efforts, or that it marked a turning point in his career.
Changing Characteristics of the Poetic Art front Period to Period :
Here the aim is to acquire a sense of the changing characteristics of the poetic art from period to period. To trace the intricate lines of development in the lyric and to uncover the causes of change are undoubtedly the tasks of mature scholarship, but even the amateur may add zest to his reading by beginning his own list of observations regarding the evolution of conventions. One of the interesting experiments that may be carried out while you are reading through a poetry-anthology is to take as a constant one of the topics and then ask what changes take place in that area from age to age. For example, you may take a certain poetic form—say, the serious meditative of delibe­rative lyric which concludes with an important solution or choice for the speaker (perhaps Milton’s “Lycidas.” Gray’s “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard,” Keats’s “Ode on a Grecian Urn.” Arnold’s “Dover Beach,” and Yeats’ “Sailing to Byzantium”). Then you might note what changes occur from period to period in the diction employ­ed with the form, the types of situations that provoke the response, the premises that are involved in the solution or choice, the types of characters engaged in the experience, the nature of the conclusion, the devices of representation employed, and so on. Or you may hold a certain subject-matter constant (say, love, death, war, childhood. nature, or feminine beauty) and consider what variations it undergoes over a period of time. In what poetic forms does it appear ? What images are associated with it ? Is it treated lightly or seriously ? Or you may hold a certain conventions constant, such as the con­vention of the pastoral poem or the ode, and observe the variations it undergoes from generation to generation. Or you may trace the changes in poetic diction over a period of time, as Josephine Miles has done in her detailed studies of poetic language. Experiments of this kind are limited only by your curiosity and ingenuity, but they should all be aimed at refining your sense of what characterizes each age and at locating the sequence by which changes came about.
These, then, are some of the broad and far-reaching avenues that lead out from the study of single poems. To grow intimate with the ways of an individual poet, to savour his distinctive qualities in the setting of his own time, to glimpse art of a given culture—these are all pleasurable exercises of the mind in their own right, but it should be remembered that their greatest value is that they bring you back to the individual poem with strengthened powers of discrimina­tion and enjoyment.
(Norman Friedman and McLaughin)

A Critical Plan

Follow the steps given below :
1.   Make a prose statement of the passage set in the exami­nation.
2.   Explain the development of the ideas in it ; Structure of the Poem.
3.   Who is the protagonist ?
4.   What is the tone ?
5.   Take note of the diction—what kinds of words are used? Do they refer to some particular area of meaning? Do they create any ascendant or descendant progression ? Are they helpful in creating the musical effect ? Do the sounds match with the nature of the feelings expressed? Is the language simple or obstructs in understanding ?
6.   Figures of speech. Ironical Contrasts, Simile, Metaphor.
7.   Versification or Rhyming : the assonance pattern of lines—onomatopoetic effect. Rhyme Scheme.
8.   Final Evaluation.

Discuss Main Themes in For Whom the Bell Tolls/ The relevance of Donne’s Quotation to the main theme.

Hemingway’s choice of a John Donne poem as the source of the novel’s title and epigraph emphasizes a major theme of For Whom the Bell Tolls: “No man is an island,” that is, no person can exist separate from the lives of others, even others living in far-away countries. The theme is demonstrated by the actions of Robert Jordan. Throughout his participation in the Spanish Civil War, he has fought actively for a cause of antifascism. As the novel progresses, his involvement with the guerrillas and his love for Maria, teach him the value of the individual as he or she affects a larger society.

He doesn’t believes in the abstract ideology which doesn’t represent people. For Jordan, Maria represents human love, the first he has ever known. It is for her that he stays behind to allow the rest of the band to escape, demonstrating his realization that others depend on him as he has depended on them. His decision not to commit suicide at the end of the novel represents his ultimate understanding that he must fight for the people whose lives are affected by the cause. Apart from the relationship of individual and society, death is another theme:

“his heart beating against the pine needle floor of the forest.”
The main topic of the novel is death and violence as effected by war. When Robert Jordan is given the mission to blow up the bridge, he knows that he will not survive it. Pablo also knows that it will lead to their deaths. El Sordo faces that inevitability also. Almost all of the main characters in the book contemplate their own deaths, and it is their reaction to the prospect of death, and what meaning they attach to death, especially in relation to the cause of the Republic, that defines them. Violence haunts the novel, death of Maria’s parents, Joaquin’s tragedy and above all, Robert Jordan awaits his death feeling his heat beating on the floor of Spanish land at the end. The war has affected the lives of people physically as in Maria who loses her physical innocence when she is raped by Fascist soldiers and also psychologically as  the changed behaviours  of characters like Anselmo who has to suppress his aversion to killing human beings, and Lieutenant Berrendo to quell his aversion to cutting heads off of corpses.  War even costs the innocence of people who aren’t involved in it directly as War journalists, writers, and we as readers who abandon innocent expectation. In war, Hemingway shows that morality is subjective and conditional, and that the sides of right and wrong are almost never clear-cut. All these conditions are resulted by fascism which Jordon calls ‘a lie told by rods’. Later, he talks of the threat of fascism in his country:
“…many who do not know they are fascists but will find it out when the time comes”
Thus, salvation lies in romantic love which is another main them of the novel. Even though many of the characters in For Whom the Bell Tolls take a cynical view of human nature and feel fatigued by the war, the novel still holds out hope for romantic love. Even the worldly-wise Pilar, in her memories of Finito, reveals traces of a romantic outlook on the world. Robert Jordan and Maria fall in love at first sight, and their love is grand and idealistic. Love endows Robert Jordan’s life with new meaning and gives him new reasons to fight in the wake of the disillusionment he feels for the Republican cause. He believes in love despite the fact that other people like Karkov entertain “purely materialistic” outlook. Romantic love is one of the most important ways in which Robert Jordan rejects abstract theories in favor of intuition and action over the course of the novel. Loving her transports him from his intellectual world of ideology to the world of real-life relationships. Maria represents the love that humanizes Jordan, making possible his transition from a political partisan to one who recognizes the worth of the individual. For Maria, Jordan‘s love is the healing touch she needs to cure the psychic wounds and a moving spirit for Jordon as he declares:
“I have not found one [woman] that moved me as they say they should move you.”
The most important theme which is the integral part of Hemingway’s novel is heroism, especially code-heroism. To be a hero, Hemingway believes that a man must display grace under pressure. Most of his characters put themselves into dangerous situations and then act with remarkable bravery in the face of danger. Robert Jordan is no exception. During the novel, Robert Jordan becomes the true Hemingway Code Hero, displaying a penchant for action and grace under pressure. Even though he realizes the dangerous nature of his mission and questions the orders of General Golz to carry it out in daylight after the offensive has commenced, he never doubts his own ability to accomplish the task. Even after Pablo steals and destroys some of his key equipment, he does not run from the danger. Jordan more clearly displays grace under pressure after he has been injured by fascist gunfire. Paralyzed and unable to easily escape with the others, he insists upon being left behind with a gun. When Maria begs to stay with him, he convinces her to leave by telling her his mission will have been worthwhile if her life is saved. Thus unable to travel to safety, he faces death with bravery, firing his gun at the enemy to give the others time to get away. He exemplifies the Hemingway code because the code heroes also fight to the last bit as he stated:
“there is something you can do yet”
Finally, there are other themes in Hemingway’s ‘For Whom the Bell Tolls’ ranging from the power of superstition and divination as in Pilar, suicide as in Jordon’s father, the Spanish War and its tragedy and hypocrisy and theme of solidarity as in Robert Jordon. Jordan laid down his life for a cause but the irony of the situation is that he couldn’t make a total commitment to his “cause” for the Fascists to be killed are, also human beings. “No man is an island”.  Thus the novel takes a pure ironical stand in the situation of Spanish War.

The Crucible shows the relationship between individual and society, discuss/ The main theme and contention of the drama, ‘The Crucible’

No person can completely steer clear of the trials and tribulations of his or her society. He who does may be vulnerable to serious allegations. If a man is to work well in his surroundings, he must partake in all aspects of his society or he is leaving himself open to unfavorable charges. In Arthur Miller’s, The Crucible, John Proctor’s lack of involvement in the Salem witch trials ultimately leads to his execution. John Proctor tries to avoid any involvement in the Salem witch trials. His reason for this attempt is motivated by his past fault of committing adultery with Abigail Williams.

The guilt connected with his lechery makes Proctor hesitant to speak openly because he would condemn himself as an adulterer. Basically, then, in the first act he attempts to isolate himself from the primary proceedings, saying to Reverend Hale:

“I’ve heard you to be a sensible man, Mr. Hale. I hope you’ll leave some of it in Salem
Proctor tries to wash his hands of the entire affair, than to instead deal with his own personal problems. His wife Elizabeth constantly badgers him about his adulterous affair and he retorts with “Let you look sometimes for the goodness in me, and judge me not”. Rather than interfering in the witch trials he is still trying to defend himself in the dangerous love triangle.  In Act I, Proctor attempts to retire to the private world of his farm and remain completely oblivious to the events arising in Salem. This refusal to become involved is brought to an end when his servant, Mary Warren, announces that she is an official of the court and that Elizabeth Proctor has been “somewhat mentioned” by the woman who with whom he had copulated. Proctor still wishes to dismiss the hearings, but his wife uses his guilt about infidelity to extract a covenant that he will expose Abigail as being an impostor. Proctor is being coerced by his wife to become involved, it is not his free and open decision. Indirect characterization can be surmised in the aforesaid situation that Elizabeth is very influential upon Proctor’s character. Harold Bloom avers that this demonstrates that “Proctor’s sense of guilt is central to any understanding of him as a dramatic character”. Before Proctor is forced to take the next step, Reverend Hale arrives and then, Herrick with a warrant for Elizabeth’s arrest. In anger over his wife’s conviction and arrest, Proctor accuses Hale of being a “Pontius Pilate” and later tells him that he is a coward by saying:
 “though you be ordained in God’s own tears, you are a coward now!”
The significant self-laceration which John Proctor undergoes while struggling to make his choice is finally convincing because it is perfectly in character, Harold Bloom says: “Miller uses Proctor as a vehicle for the play’s major moral questions”. Proctor is weak, like most men, but he has the potential for greatness likewise common to all men. When John Proctor shouted: ‘’I am no saint”. He asserted his human frailty and vulnerability. As the tragic hero of Miller’s drama, Proctor faces his downfall due to his lack of commitment to humanity. Proctor feels guilty about his relationship with Abigail when he is visited by Hale and asked about his commitment to the church and his knowledge of the ten commandments. Proctor inadvertently forgets one commandment:  “Thou shalt not commit adultery”. Proctor accounts for his lack of attendance at church in Act 1 by proclaiming that he will not listen to the “hellfire and bloody damnation”, preached by Parris. In Act 2 he states:
“I like it not that Mr Parris should lay his hand upon my baby, I see no light of God in that man”
An act the towns people and the court view as a revolt against the supremacy of God. This quote also highlights Proctors’ otherwise principled approval to his life, he is not prepared to do something just because it is expected by the rest of the community. Proctor’s relationship with other characters highlight aspects of his personality. In Act 2 Giles Corey and Francis Nurse come to him for help following the arrest of Rebecca Nurse and Martha Corey. It is apparent from this that he is respected by them. Proctor’s character is also highlighted through how he is seen by his wife. Elizabeth is cooking for him and it is clear that she is wanting to please him. This shows that Proctor is obviously making an effort to please and be loving towards Elizabeth, but she is finding it hard to forgive him for his behaviour. “Spare me! You forget nothin’ and forgive nothin’. Learn charity woman. I have gone tiptoe in this house all seven month since she is gone. I have not moved from there to there without think to please you, and still an ever-lasting funeral marches round your heart”.
It is important to Proctor how he is seen by other people in the community and for this reason he is reluctant to go to Salem’s court early on, as he would have to admit to the affair with Abigail. He eventually acts correctly, in order to show his love for Elizabeth who risks condemnation from the court on evidence from Abigail.  The outraged court officials summon Elizabeth Proctor to find out the truth about Proctor and Abigail. When asked about her husband, Elizabeth‘s soul is twisted, for reporting the truth could destroy her husband’s reputation, but lying means breaking the solemn oath to God. As she is selfless, Elizabeth choose to lie and save her husband, but perhaps condemn herself to hell for such a sin. This scene indicates dramatic irony, for Proctor knows that which Elizabeth is not aware of, and this is that he has already “confessed it”.
In Act 3, Proctor remains loyal to his friends who;s wives have been accused . He is tempted to withdraw his charges against Abigail when he is told his wife is pregnant and in no immediate danger of being hung, but he goes ahead to support his friends. Despite Proctor’s lack of integrity in his relationship with Abigail, Proctor is initially tempted to save his own life by confessing, but he eventually decides to die rather than lose his good name, Proctor’s recognition is his discovery that he contains goodness. “for now I do think I see some shred of goodness in me” . Elizabeth supports him through her confidence that he is a “good” man. “he have his goodness now. God forbid I take it from him”. John Proctor is not a perfect man, but his beliefs and values are in the right place. Proctor listens to his soul, a lesson the whole world should learn to follow. John Proctor is a “good” man.