Amy De Ann Curtin
September 28th, 2015
I would define, in brief, the poetry of words as the rhythmical creation of Beauty. ~Poe
Poetry is a literary form that gives special intensity to the expression of feelings and ideas. The aesthetic and rhythmic qualities of language are used with particular care given to vivid imagery, strong metaphors, rhyme, and structure. By analyzing these elements, a deeper comprehending the authors’ message can be discovered. Understanding the components of Lewis Carroll’s “Jabberwocky”, Craig Raine’s “A Martian Sends a Postcard Home” and William Butler Yeats’ “The Stolen Child” all cover varying subjects but still, at their very foundation have similarities.
Lewis Carroll’s poem “Jabberwocky” is the tale of a young boy that goes out into the woods to hunt the Jabberwock as told by the narrator, most likely his father. This is a poem that is constructed of primarily nonsensical, made up words. The nonsensical words add to the fantasy and whimsy of the story. By examining the grammar, morphemes and syntax in the piece you can derive the meaning of much of the nonsense words with relative ease. The word Jabberwocky can actually be found in the dictionary and the definition is a noun that means meaningless speech or writing. Its origin is credited to Lewis Carroll’s poem. Several of the words are in fact portmanteau words such as slithy, galumphing and chortle. These are blended words are combined into a new word. Chortle and galumph are both also now found in the dictionary and owe their existence to this work. There are several onomatopoeia words that add a high level of vividness to the similes created. Onomatopoeia words emulate the sound that the item it describes makes. In Jabberwocky even though he words are nonsense they manage to give the reader a clear picture of what they refer to. When he tells of the “Jubjub bird” you can imagine a bird that makes a jub jub sound as it perches in a tree. “The frumious Bandersnatch!” conjures up a beast with a fierce demeanor that should be avoided. The major metaphor that is used in this work is in line “The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame.” (p. 294). Carrol, L., (2005). This is not intended to make the reader think that the Jabberwocky actually had flames for eyes but that his eyes seemed to glow red as if they were made of fire. Although others can be found in the descriptions of other elements in the poem. Although containing mostly senseless words, the structure is consistent with classic English poetry. It can even be regarded as a ballad with its lyrical sentence structure and rhyme scheme. The construction is a quatrain, a series of four lined stanzas. Jabberwocky is constructed of seven stanzas with the final one being a repeat of the first. The rhymes follow an A.B.A.B scheme.
“A Martian Sends a Postcard Home” is a poem written by Craig Raine that is exactly what the title states. It describes the way an extra-terrestrial may interpret what they observe while visiting Earth. This is a type of Martian poetry that was popular for short time in the late 1970’s and into the early 1980’s. This became known as Martianism, a minor movement in British literary history that demonstrated the anxieties and qualms of an alienated nation. The Images may be difficult to recognize upon first reading the poem. Raine’s otherworldly witness attempts to explain simple functions and items found on Earth, they are a book, the fog, the rain, a car, a clock and a watch, a telephone, the use of a restroom, and the act of going to sleep and dreaming in terms that the Martian’s back home will understand. There is no attention paid to rhyme in this work. Metaphorically this poem is very rich. Being that the Martian is lacking the understanding of the different things they are all detailed with metaphors. The first description is of a book, “mechanical birds with many wings, and some are treasured for the markings-“(p.308), Raine, C., (2005) Using a birds wings to describe the pages. However, in many of the descriptions there is a definite amalgamation of the natural and the technological. This piece is constructed of seventeen stanzas each of two lines. The poem if very enigma -like. The first riddle consists of three of the stanzas and describes a book. The second riddle is made up of two stanzas to describe fog, followed by riddle three that is only one stanza to describe the rain as a television with a snowy screen. The fourth riddle is two stanzas to describe a car as a way to “free the world” by turning a key. The next stanza is the fifth riddle it is “tied to a wrist or kept in a box” and describes a watch and a clock. The three following stanzas work to describe a phone. The next three describe the function of going to the restroom, something no one is “exempt” from. In the final two stanzas our Martian narrator describes humans going to sleep and dreaming.
In “The Stolen Child” written by William Butler Yeats, an Irish writer was charmed by the folk-lore, ballads and superstitions of the Irish people. His poetry has Celtic spirit mingled with a sense of mysticism and even some measure of sadness and grief. “The Stolen Child” tells of a young boy that is lured away by a host of Fairies. The imagery that is created is of a fertile place with a rocky cliff and. Here the child is tempted by the fae to leave the world he knows as it is full of weeping and join them in their woodland paradise. This piece is in itself somewhat of a metaphor about returning to the innocence of youth. It uses a varied pattern of rhyming words and reads highly lyrical. The poem is composed of four stanzas of varying length. The first stanza is twelve lines and describes where the fairies reside. It tells of the rocky land and how where it slopes there can be found a thick mysterious forest and a lake. “Where dips the rocky highland; Of Sleuth Wood in the lake; There lies a leafy island” (p.320), Yeats, W.B., (2005). This island is the home of the fairies and it is where they tempt the child to go with them with promises of the stolen berries and red cherries in their hidden containers. The child is enticed to come to the waters of the lake and wild world of nature because the world in which the child lives is bursting with grief and sorrow. The second stanza is fifteen lines and tells more of the wonders of the fairy’s home, a place far away from the “distant Rosses” and where the grey sands are illuminated by the moonlight. This is where they spend the evening engaged in the dances of old. They describe this as chasing bubbles under the light of the moon. Again they voice to the boy the troubles in the world and implore him to come away with them. The third stanza is fourteen lines and tells of how the fairies look for sleepy trout in the waters by starlight and by whispering in their ears cause them to have disturbed dreams. Showing their power over the living things of the world and yet again ends in the plea to come away with them to a happy and natural world of the fairies. In the fourth and final stanza is twelve lines and tells how the child is going away with the fairies to the island. The fairies take the solemn eyed boy and tell him of the things in the human world that he will no longer experience. No longer will he hear the sound of the calves lowing as they graze or the sound of the kettle on the hearth. No longer will he witness the mice as they scurry around the chest of oatmeal. He is now going to the leafy island to live amongst the fairies and escape a world full of weeping and torment.
Dissecting poems and identifying the elements helps the reader understand the message that was intended. Poetry is personal and somewhat subjective but a clearer understanding can help the reader better discover what the work can mean to them. “Jabberwocky”, “A Martian Sends a Postcard Home” “The Stolen Child” all speak from an innocent vision of things in the world trying to understand things that are not evident and simply defined.
Carroll, Lewis (1998) Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass pp 198–199 Wordsworth Editions
Carrol, L., (2005) Crossroads, (p.294), Pearson Education Inc.
Hayes, Max Hunter, “At a slight angle to the universe: Martianism and cultural deracination in the works of Martin Amis, Craig Raine and Christopher Reid, 1977–1984” (2003). Dissertation Archive. Paper 2093. Retrieved from http://aquila.usm.edu/theses_dissertations/2093
Merriam-Webster Dictionary. (2015). Jabberwocky. Retrieved from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/jabberwocky
Raine, C., (2005) Crossroads, (p.308), Pearson Education Inc.
Yeats, W.B., (2005) Crossroads, (p.320), Pearson Education Inc.