Flashcards in CSL Quotations Deck (15)
'Thy name before me,
A knell in my ear.'
When We Two Parted
'Name' reflects the importance of reputation and the limited number of people engaged in the society that Byron and Lady Francis Webster were in.
The metaphorical reference to a death 'knell' signifies the speaker's attempt to insist his love has died at this point. This assertion is unconvincing as the poem ends with the antithetical reference to 'silence and tears'.
"See the mountains kiss high heaven."
The imperative perhaps stresses both the speaker's urgency and his attempted manipulation.
The alliterative stress of 'high heaven' attempts to link the speaker's carnal desire to a holy pursuit suggesting again that he is manipulative.
The anthropomorphic referencing of human affections in nature is an attempt to suggest that sexual congress is a natural state and that cultural restrictions or individual disinclination are 'unnatural' states. Sexual freedom was a common trope of the romantic movement.
'mine, mine, fair,
Perfectly pure and good.'
Repetition of the possessive pronoun demonstrates the controlling nature and inadequacies of the flawed narrator. Alliteration of bi-labial plosives in 'perfectly pure' could be argued to illustrate the repressed violence in the speaker's character. The poem demonstrates the impact of social status on relationships in 19th century England as well as the speaker's psychosis.
"I think of thee!"
The exclamation opens the poem with the dilemma of the octave: the speaker feels that love is incompatible with reason and thoughts obscure the union of love.
This is contrasted after the volta, at the end of the sestet with there union and the line, "I do not think of thee."
These sonnets were published posthumously by her widower Robert Browning. They reflect both the intensity and, due to her father's disapproval, secrecy of her written courtship with Browning.
"Alive enough to have the strength to die."
Paradoxical statement reflects the speaker's conflicting emotions on realising that his lover is unable to love him. Images of death abound in the poem often using nature as a metaphor. The elevation of love, through anthropomorphism, to being able to die gives the emotion gravity. The suffocation and ending of the love is reinforced through the enclosed rhyme.
'his knuckles singing'
Letters From Yorkshire
The anthropomorphic reference contrasts with the mundane activities in the poem and suggests that beauty can exist in everyday life. It also perhaps reflects the man's joy at the work he is doing for the coming spring and new life. Using enjambment in this line reinforces the link to something new. Dooley often focuses on details of modern life.
'The brown of her—her eyes, her hair, her hair!'
The Farmer's Bride
Anaphoric repetition of the possessive pronoun suggests that the farmer almost resents his lack of willing acceptance of his desires in his wife. The asyndeton in this list reinforces his intensity and obsessional control in illustrating his inability to think of anything else. The woman in the poem is often compared to nature suggesting both that she has a natural desire for freedom and that the farmer, through husbandry wants to tame nature. The poem is perhaps allegorical for Mew's life in that she felt controlled by the patriarchy. We make ominous inferences of rape through ending the poem in this unsatisfactory manner.
'Like a satellite wrenched from its orbit.'
The violence of the verb 'wrenched' is in contrast to the calmness of the title, suggesting perhaps that the speaker feels that despite the emotional pain of his son's independence and physical separation, there is a need to maintain a calm acceptance of the necessity for the evolution of a parent child relationship. One of several images in the poem suggesting a spiral trajectory, the simile reminds the reader that the satellite is likely made by the object of its orbit. The poem is a quiet reflection on a permanent feature of the human condition but given immediacy for a modern audience through the fame of the poet and his son who are the subjects of this semi-autobiographical poem.
'Cha, cha, cha!'
Before You Were Mine
Onomatopoeic reference to an erotic American dance links with the use of 'Marilyn' to reinforce the suspicion that the speaker's mother had secretive erotic life before being a mother. This is developed though this cultural iconography of the desire for glamour in the 1950s, but also through the phonetic reference to the dance. Duffy's work is often revisionist, looking again at the lives of women from the past - both real and imagined.
'I had not though it would be like this.'
The final line is isolated and deliberately ambiguous. It offers a range of possible interpretations as to what the pronoun refers to . The single line starting on the B rhyme of the preceding tercet also suggests the change from the from the order of the alternate rhyme used for memory, to a mirrored patterning through terza rima. The poem is offering a religous view of an afterlife and this is echoing the preceding image of a river separating the afterlife (Styx, Jordan etc).
Opening the poem with a possessive pronoun illustrated the speaker's pride in his father. The development becomes very different to other uses of personal pronouns such as in 'The Farmer's Bride'.
'Two days of rain and then a break'
A metaphor for the dysfunction in the relationship up to this point. The 'break' is stressed as this line follows a caesura. The implication is that a time has arrived for a calmer reflection after the intensity of the previous days. The poem is still written in tercets though indicating that as well as the couple, there is an impediment separating their full union.
'I decided to do it free, without a rope or net.'
Climbing My Grandfather
The opening line is consciously ambiguous to encourage the reader to engage with the speaker's task. The revelation of the poem's message about love and connection is made gradually through the development of the extended metaphor of climbing. Climbing is an activity that Waterhouse undertook prior to his suicide.
towards a hatch that opens on an endless sky
to fall or fly.'
Mother Any Distance
The noun 'hatch' has a homonymic link to the verb, suggesting a birth. Imagery of birth abound in the poem and this hatching is the final metaphorical severing of the referenced 'cords' that tie the speaker to this particular form of connection to his mother. The last line offers a simple alliterative binary option that reflects th speaker's fears over his uncertain future - like a chick hatching and leaving the nest for the first time. Armitage has said that is was this ambiguity at the time in his life when his friends were leaving home that encouraged him to write the poem.