Sunday, April 22, 2012

Sunday Afternoon Poetry #16

Good afternoon, I'm delighted you could join me again for Sunday Afternoon Poetry. Today I've got a little something extra for you. I'm going to provide you with some poetic terms and examples. The best part? This particular poem contains so many of them. It's like a one stop shop for an education in poetry and it wouldn't hurt your vocabulary either if you're unfamiliar with these terms or have forgotten them since you last learned them.

Today's poem is also dedicated to my grade nine English teacher, Andy Smith. I would never have developed the interest in poetry I have had it not been for his influence. Thank you.

Out, Out--

The buzz-saw snarled and rattled in the yard
And made dust and dropped stove-length sticks of wood,
Sweet-scented stuff when the breeze drew across it.
And from there those that lifted eyes could count
Five mountain ranges one behind the other
Under the sunset far into Vermont.
And the saw snarled and rattled, snarled and rattled,
As it ran light, or had to bear a load.
And nothing happened: day was all but done.
Call it a day, I wish they might have said
To please the boy by giving him the half hour
That a boy counts so much when saved from work.
His sister stood beside them in her apron
To tell them "Supper." At the word, the saw,
As if to prove saws knew what supper meant,
Leaped out at the boy's hand, or seemed to leap-
He must have given the hand. However it was,
Neither refused the meeting. But the hand!
The boy's first outcry was a rueful laugh,
As he swung toward them holding up the hand
Half in appeal, but half as if to keep
The life from spilling. Then the boy saw all-
Since he was old enough to know, big boy
Doing a man's work, though a child at heart-
He saw all spoiled. "Don't let him cut my hand off-
The doctor, when he comes. Don't let him, sister!"
So. But the hand was gone already.
The doctor put him in the dark of ether.
He lay and puffed his lips out with his breath.
And then--the watcher at his pulse took fright.
No one believed. They listened at his heart.
Little--less--nothing!--and that ended it.
No more to build on there. And they, since they
Were not the one dead,turned to their affairs.

by Robert Frost


So this poem is great, as I said, as it uses so many different forms of poetic language. Let's get down to business. For reference sake's, all definitions will come from Merriam-Webster. Links will be provided.

Allusion - an implied or indirect reference especially in literature; also :the use of such references. The very first example comes before the poem begins; the title "Out, Out--" is an allusion to Lady MacBeth from the Shakespearean play MacBeth.

Onomatopoeia - the naming of a thing or action by a vocal imitation of the sound associated with it. In the first line of he poem we encounter this one: the buzz-saw snarled and rattled. Don't ask me how to remember to spell it because I can never do it.

Alliteration - the repetition of usually initial consonant sounds in two or more neighboring words or syllables. Barely into the poem in line number three we find the example of this piece of poetic device: Sweet-scented stuff. See how easy it is to understand poetic devices? Piece of cake.

Personification - attribution of personal qualities; especially: representation of a thing or abstraction as a person or by the human form. This one here is one we all do on a daily basis; well most of us. Anytime you assign an object a gender or describe it with some sort of human quality, you have personified that object (this happens a lot with men and cars). The example is quite obvious in this poem: At the word, the saw, As if to prove that saws knew what suppper meant, Leaped out at the boy's hand.

Metaphor - figure of speech in which a word or phrase literally denoting one kind of object or idea is used in place of another to suggest a likeness or analogy between them. This one isn't as obvious as I would like as an example but it will get the point across. Instead of saying that the boy has died, Frost instead tells us without saying it by this: Little-less-nothing!-and that ended it. Again, it is a little weak but the gist of it is there.

Simile - figure of speech comparing two unlike things that is often introduced by like or as. This one is easy to identify because of those two special little words. Here is one you might have missed if you read quickly: half as if to keep The life from spilling.

Of course there are many more types and uses of poetic language and devices. I hope you've learned a little something about poetry today and I hope you enjoyed this simple little poem by one of my all time favorite poets.