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To: Mary-Jo
Posted by: BigRed (
Date: October 21, 2001 03:44PM

WOW!!! Your a good poet! I am bad at poetry. I have a school project and thats why I am here. Have you every heard of Katherine Mansfield? She's who I am doing. I got your message earlier about the Butterfly Laughter poem. That was from me. Katherine Mansfield wrote that. I thought Butterfly Laughter was a unique poem. Most poems are about love.

Re: To: Mary-Jo
Posted by: Chesil (
Date: October 21, 2001 06:10PM

"most poems are about love"

Highly unlikely. I have yards of books of poetry surrounding me and I bet not more than a foot or two are love poems. For example, I have a selection of Tennyson open in front of me containing 478 poems by him and very few might be described as love poems.

Check out virtually any representative anthology: Norton's or Palgrave's would do and then check the proportion of love poems within them. They will not comprise the "most".

You have received some useful tips on how to analyze poems so far. Here are mine:

Read the poem, read it again, now a third time to enable you to begin to pick up the rhythm. Now read it aloud a couple of times and consider how the poet has used poetic devices such as meter, rhyme and alliteration, for example, to create a sound that matches the mood. Perhaps shorter staccato lines to generate a mood - The Charge of the Light Brigade by Tennyson might fall in this category:

Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
'Forward, the Light Brigade!
Charge for the guns!' he said:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

Perhaps longer lines to convey a different style of message like this extract from Dulce et Decorum Est by Wilfred Owen.

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.

Good contrasts in these poems between the glorification as portrayed by Tennyson a long way from the front line and Owen who fought in the trenches.

Having read and listened to yourself, or a friend recite the poem, return to it and look for what the poem is trying to communicate. Don't over complicate it and look beyond the words, just consider the words themselves, the message will be there, you just have to find the key to unlock it. Knowing something about the poet and his or her times is often helpful.

Consider this by Eugene Lee-Hamilton

The Eagles of Tiberius

They say at Capri that Tiberius bound
His slaves to eagles, ere he had them flung
In the abysses, from the rocks that hung
Beetling above the sea and the sea's sound.

Slowly the eagle, struggling round and round
With the gagged slave that from his talons swung,
Sank through the air, to which he fiercely clung,
Until the sea caught both, and both were drowned.

O Eagle of the Spirit, hold thy own;
Work thy great wings, and grapple to the sky;
Let not this shackled body drag thee down.

Into that stagnant sea where by-and-by,
The ethereal and the clayey both must drown,
Bound by a link that neither can untie!

The first two stanzas are a simple retelling of a legend of the Roman Emperor Tiberus. They convey the events in a dramatic way.

Briefly, the final stanzas move away from the opening story to consider the "Eagle of the spirit" and, in this case, it helps to know that Lee-Hamilton was handicapped and spent much of his life "shackled" to his bed. Now, it is easier to see the message that is an exhortation to not allow his own (ethereal) spirit to become stifled, or to be dragged down "Into that stagnant sea" to drown along with his body "the clayey".

There is nothing very difficult about analyzing poetry so long as you approach it in a structured way - Pam's suggestion is fine though you also need to appreciate that there are themes that run from stanza to stanza. You will need to relate back & forth to these.

This is not rocket science!

To: Chesil
Posted by: BigRed (
Date: October 21, 2001 08:30PM

Yea, I know your right, after I posted the message, I remember where I got the poems!!! !!!! Well, I still have to admit maybe almost half I know are love. Well, you may be right again, cause I don't know much about poetry. The only reason I am here is because I have a school project. Well, I gotta go. Bye!!!

Re: To: Mary-Jo
Posted by: mary-jo burles (
Date: October 22, 2001 01:02PM

Yes, I've heard of Katherine Mansfield but don't know her work. Margery Mansfield wrote ' Song for the Winter Solstice" - was Marge related to Kate? or do you know? I love poetry and have had poetry published but do not consider myself a "good " poet. Keep at it. Emily Dickinson wrote about love but she was afraid of it. Ella Wheeler Wilcox, another American, also wrote about romantic love but many of her verses are very sad. As a teenager, I used to cry over them but thoroughly enjoyed the agony. Not so now! The sermon at church was about forgiveness - it is easier said than done. Mary-Jo

Re: To: Mary-Jo
Posted by: Marian (12.154.236.---)
Date: October 22, 2001 05:19PM

I know lots of poems that aren't about love, but I smiled when I read BigRed's comment about finding poems that AREN'T about love. I thought that would make a good title for an anthology.

Whenever someone says ANALYZE THIS POEM, I always always always feel a little rush of something like panic, because I'm sure I can't do it. For me, the trick is to NOT THINK ABOUT ANALYZING IT. I just read it and write something that I think about it. Sometimes it's about the structure, sometimes it's about a reference (to mythology, to historical events, to another poem, or whatever). And then I look at the poem to see if I can notice anything else related to the first thing that struck me.

I'm not kidding: If I thought about ANALYZING a poem, I would never be able to do it. I'd be too worried about being WRONG.

Re: To: Mary-Jo
Posted by: BigRed (
Date: October 22, 2001 09:01PM

Well, I don't know if they are related or not. I don't really know much about poetry. Sounds like you do though!!!

Re: To: Mary-Jo
Posted by: Peter Banks (
Date: January 14, 2004 07:43PM

Your question regarding Katherine Mansfield and Margery Mansfield.
Katherine real name was Kathleen Mansfield Beachamp. Born in Wellington NZ. She used Mansfield (grandmothers surname) as a surname for writing only. When married (John Middleton Murry) she was Kathleen Murry.

I am putting up a website shortly on KM at []

Hope that helps

Re: To: Mary-Jo
Posted by: Marian-NYC (
Date: January 15, 2004 04:11PM

"Marian" (not me) wrote: "I know lots of poems that aren't about love, but I smiled when I read BigRed's comment about finding poems that AREN'T about love. I thought that would make a good title for an anthology."

Which reminds me that there is a little-known Tennessee Williams play called NOT ABOUT NIGHTINGALES. It was never produced in his lifetime, but it was given a huge elaborate production in NY a few years back.

I thought the title was really bad -- very self-consciously TW -- but it means more after you've seen the play. It's set in a prison where one of the guys puts out a prison newsletter. A volunteer comes to teach a class at the prison; she tries to teach Keats's "Ode to a Nightingale" but the guys don't show much interest. She thinks the newsletter guy has a lot of promise as a writer, and she wants him to try his hand at something more creative than articles that please the warden.

He says -- I can't recall his exact words, but something like this: "Right now I'm writing this newsletter to help get my parole, and that's all that matters to me. Later, when I get out, sure, I might try my hand at creative writing. I'll write about things that matter to me-- but NOT ABOUT NIGHTINGALES."


That scene isn't too bad. As for the rest of the play... let's just say that now it's been given a full production on the NY stage, so nobody ever has to produce it again, AMEN.

Re: To: Mary-Jo
Posted by: Russ (
Date: January 19, 2004 01:10PM

Chesil I am not sure I have a poets soul but you do!

Re: To: Mary-Jo
Posted by: Marian-NYC (
Date: January 20, 2004 03:18PM

Correction -- I think "Marian" in this thread IS me, after all. I didn't notice the DATE on the earlier postings.

Re: To: Mary-Jo
Posted by: Pam Adams (
Date: January 20, 2004 04:05PM

It's certainly your style of capitalizing for emphasis.


Re: To: Mary-Jo
Posted by: -Les- (
Date: January 20, 2004 04:41PM

The spaces between paragraphs are also charactistic of Marian-NYC.


Re: To: Mary-Jo
Posted by: Linda (
Date: January 20, 2004 06:31PM

So how come your name got changed, Marian?

I seem to have more war poetry than love (soppy stuff!! :-) ).

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