poetry


Epiphany is a popular literary term almost every student of literature is familiar with. It means a manifestation or a sign for something to come. Christian thinkers use this term to denote a manifestation of God’s presence in this world.

The term epiphany reminds of James Joyce who employed this word effectively in his work. He adopted this term to secular experience. He used it to signify a revelation at the time of perceiving a commonplace object. His novels and short stories consist of several epiphanies. For instance; a climatic epiphany is a sort of revelation that Stephan, in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, experiences seeing a young girl on the seashore.

In modern poetry and fiction, this idea of epiphany is artistically used to denote the sudden flare of revelation of an ordinary object. James Joyce used it as “moments”. Later on, Shelley used it, in his Defense of Poetry (1821), to describe the most cherished moments. Wordsworth also employed this concept and his ideas revolved around some beautiful moments. For instance; his short poetry like The Solitary Reaper deals with a moment of revelation. His Prelude is full of such visionary moments:

’twas a moment’s pause, –
All that took place within me came and went
As in a moment; yet with Time it dwells,
And grateful memory, as a thing divine.

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Beowulf was perhaps composed during the 9th century A. D. by someone whose name is not known. It is the earliest and the greatest epic or heroic poem.

Short Summary of Beowulf:

This epic poem describes the hero Beowulf marching with his fourteen warriors and arrive at the place of Heorot where he finds that he king of Heorot Hrothgar terrified by a monster called Grendel. Beowulf manages to kill Grendel and his monster-mother at his abode beneath a lake. After that he returns to his country and becomes the king there and rules his kingdom for fifty years. He dies of the wounds he got once during the combat fought with a dragon.

The Specialty of the Poem:

This epic poem has the magnificent ending. It describes the selfless heroism of Beowulf, anguish of his people, the memorial knoll on the low cliff, which would route every returning mariner to guide a straight course to harbor in the memory of his dead hero.

Myth and Meaning of the Poem:

The time when this poem Beowulf composed, there existed several northern legends of Beowa, a half-divine hero, and the monster called Grendel. Some consider the later as a bear and some interpret it as the malaria of the marsh lands.

Symbolic Interpretation:

As for the symbolic interpretation, some consider these myths as Beowulf’s successive fights with the three dragons as: 1. the overcoming of the threat of the sea, which was trodden by the dykes, 2. the conquering of the sea by sailing upon it, 3. the conflict with the hostile forces of nature defeated by man’s will and perseverance.

Really speaking, Beowulf is the epic portraying the picture of a brave man’s death.

Epigram is a form of poetry which is presented to show terse, pointed and witty observation.

Epigrams were in vogue in ancient times also which were in the forms of inscriptions on statues or stones.

The term “epigram” became popular after 18th century for the witty statements.

Some Latin poets like Juneval, Martial, developed this form and used it as a short satire in verse. In French, Voltaire wrote fine epigrams.

As for the English literature, the poets such as Ben Jonson, John Donne, John Dryden, Alexander Pope, and Jonathan Swift were often considered as the masters of epigrams.

Oscar Wilde was one of the famous epigrammatists. Most of the short poems of Walter Savage were fine examples of non-satirical epigrams.

S. T. Coleridge used this form in the 19th century. One of his epigrams shows that Romanticism did not preclude wit:

“On a Volunteer Singer

Swans sing before they die – ’twere no bad thing
Should certain people die before they sing!”

Halimbawa ng haiku means examples of haiku poems. This form has become so much popular that this form is often introduced in schools so that students can enjoy and learn.

The Form and Structure:

Haiku is a form of Japanese poetry which consists of 17 moare (also called “on” or syllables) in 3 metrical phrases of 5-7-5 moare respectively. But most writers of this verse form in English use about 10 to 14 syllables with no formal pattern.

The form of haiku poems consists of a “kigo” or “kireji” or verbal caesura. Japanese form is traditionally printed in a single vertical line whereas, in English, it is composed in 3 lines which is parallel to the 3 metrical lines in Japanese form.

It was the custom to make the carving of famous haiku upon natural stone in order to make poem monuments came to be known as kuhi.

Marlene Mountain was considered one of the first English-language haiku poets. He wrote the verse in a single horizontal line inspired by the single vertical line of printed Japanese haiku. The single-line form normally contains fewer than 17 syllables.

The writers of Haiku in English language make use of the following:

•    3 lines up to 17 syllables
•    a season word (kigo)
•    a cut or kire (sometimes marked by a punctuation) to compare two images

Influence of This Verse Form:

The influence of haiku poetry is felt worldwide. It is found in journals in Japan, and in the English-speaking countries including India, in Russia, in Northern Europe, in central and southeast Europe.

In the early 20th century, in India, Rabindranath Tagore tried his hands at haiku in Bengali and made some translations from Japanese. Zeenabhai Ratanji Desai ‘Sneharashmi’, made this verse form famous in Gujarati.

It was Feb’ 2008 when the World Haiku Festival was held in Bangalore, and its main intention was to gather haikuists from all over India and from Europe and the US.
Haiku had a significant influence on Imagists in the 1910s, especially Ezra Pound’s “In a Station of the Metro” of 1913.

At the time of the Imagist period, several mainstream writers and poets composed came to be known as “hokku,” in a 5-7-5 syllable pattern.
The Afro-American novelist Richard Wright composed around 4,000 haikus.

Examples of Haiku Poems:

Buson is really considered as one of the greatest masters of haiga which is an art form where painting is combined with haiku. And therefore, his love for painting is clearly seen in the style of his poems.

1. Bashō’s “old pond” is one of the famous examples:
furuike ya
(fu/ru/i/ke ya): 5

kawazu tobikomu
(ka/wa/zu to/bi/ko/mu): 7

mizu no oto
(mi/zu no o/to): 5

Translation:

old pond
a frog jumps
the sound of water

2. A classic hokku by Matsuo Bashō:

fuji no kaze ya oogi ni nosete Edo miyage

Translation:

the wind of Mt. Fuji
I’ve brought on my fan!
a gift from Edo

3. Snow in my shoe
Abandoned
Sparrow’s nest

Jack Kerouac (collected in Book of Haikus, Penguin Books, 2003)

4. Whitecaps on the bay:
A broken signboard banging
In the April wind.

Richard Wright (collected in Haiku: This Other World, Arcade Publishing, 1998)

5. lily:
out of the water
out of itself
bass
picking bugs
off the moon

Nick Virgilio (Selected Haiku, Burnt Lake Press/Black Moss Press, 1988)

6. downpour:
my “I-Thou”
T-shirt

Raymond Roseliep (Rabbit in the Moon, Alembic Press, 1983)

7. an aging willow–
its image unsteady
in the flowing stream

Robert Spiess (Red Moon Anthology, Red Moon Press, 1996)

8. Just friends:
he watches my gauze dress
blowing on the line.

Alexis Rotella (After an Affair, Merging Media, 1984)

9. meteor shower…
a gentle wave
wets our sandals

Michael Dylan Welch (HSA Newsletter XV:4, Autumn 2000)

The term onomatopoeia comes from the Greek word “onomatopoeia” which means ‘word-making’. It represents the sound by way of imitating the word. For instance, the sound “meow” represents the word cat.

As far as literature is concerned, poets make use of this feature and convey the meaning of their poetry by way of representing sounds.

The use of sound in such a way that echoes or suggests the meaning is also called onomatopoeia for instance; “The moan of doves in immemorial elms.”

Examples of Onomatopoeia Poems in Literature

Tennyson, in “Song of the Lotus-Eaters”, he describes the languorous life of the Lotus-Eaters by presenting words with sounds:

“Here are cool mosses deep,
And through the moss the ivies creep,
And in the stream the long-leaved flowers weep,
And from the craggy ledge the poppy hangs in sleep.”

See the effect of sound produced by the humming bees in the following lines from his “Come Down, O Maid”:

“The moan of doves in immemorial elms,
And murmuring of innumerable bees.”

Browning also used some unpleasant sounds, in “Meeting at Night”:

“A tap at the pane, the quick sharp scratch
And blue spurt of a lighted match.”

It has become a literary device in which the sounds of words are used to suggest a sense of the subject.

Examples in Synthetic Languages:

Onomatopoeic words are wonderfully incorporated into the structure of synthetic languages. Some words are evolved into new sounds or pronunciations in such a way that they go beyond the concept of onomatopoeia for instance; the English word “bleat” used for the sheep noise was pronounced as “blairt/blet” in medieval times.

Examples in English Language:

Some very familiar sounds which occur in English language are “beep”, “hiccup”, “bang”, and “splash”.

Certain phrases like “the humming bee”, “the whizzing arrow”, and “the cackling hen” are good examples.

Sounds related to machines are often considered as the examples of onomatopoeia for instance; “beep-beep” sound of horn, and “vroom” sound of engine.

Words used for certain things or objects represent some sounds for instance; the most common word “zip/zipper” stands for fastener.

Certain animal sounds just like “meow” for cat, “quack” for duck, “bark” for dog are very typical in English language.

Many birds are named after the sound they produce for intake; the cuckoo, the whooping crane, chickadee, etc.

The poetry of the Victorian Age is rich that produced two great poets Tennyson and Browning. There are minor poets whose contribution to literature is equally notable. Among them, Elizabeth Barrett Browning rightly occupies a central position.

It was the publication of Mrs. Browning’s “The Seraphim and Other Poems (1838)” that brought her literary reputation. After that, her ill health and the shock of her brother’s death made her broke down and was confined to the four walls of her room.

As she recovered slightly, she published “Poems” some of them were impulsive but favored by the public. One of such poems was “The Cry of the Children” which voiced the protest of humanity against the evil of child labor. This poem appealed the populace most and she became so much popular that her fame name was placed beside Tennyson and Browning. So mush so, when Wordsworth died, she was considered for the poet laureate but finally, this title was given to Tennyson.

Around 1845, she met Browning and they fell in love, eloped and married. The romance of their love is beautifully reflected in her “Sonnets from the Portuguese (1850)”. It has become the inspiring collection of love poems every student of literature would like to enjoy!

For the fifteen years, they lived very happy life. In 1856, Elizabeth Barrett published a novel in verse, “Aurora Leigh”. The hero of the novel is a social reformer which suggests Browning and the heroine is enthusiastic which suggest Elizabeth herself. The social and moral ideals of the novel reminds of the Dickens and George Eliot.

Her two poems “Last Poems” and “Poems before Congress” were published just after her death in 1861.

The literature of the Victorian Age is remarkable for the variety of prose; it produced two great poets, Tennyson and Browning. The literature of this age reflected its interests and problems and therefore, it came very close to the daily life.

The literary tendency of this age is quite ethical in spirit. And therefore all the writers, poets, essayists, and novelists of this age seemed to be moral teachers at heart. Science and discovery also influenced the age which presented truth as the sole object of human endeavor. The age is often considered as materialistic, but the literature is an attack on materialism.

What To Read?

Tennyson
Tennyson, like Chaucer, he was a national poet. Everyone would enjoy reading Tennyson because of his thought and his melody of expression, as it happens in The Lotus Eaters

Music that gentlier on the spirit lies
Than tired eyelids upon tired eyes.

Tennyson’s concept of faith and immortality is well expressed in In Memoriam

Browning
Browning, the optimism of his poetry, his creed as it expressed in Rabbi Ben Ezra is worth reading. If you read Fra Lippo Lippi or Andrea del Sarto, you will know what dramatic monologues are:

Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp,
Or what’s a heaven for?

Dickens
Dickens’s experiences in life are reflected in his novels. David Copperfield is in this respect shares some autobiographical elements. You can read and make brief analysis of Tale of Two Cities with its plot, characters, and style.

Thackeray
You can read “Henry Esmond” to know Thackeray’s realism. You can also compare it with Ivanhoe as a historical novel. He deals with satire in his writing and has got great skills of critical writer.

George Eliot
If you read Silas Marner, you will learn that George Eliot’s ethical teaching is at the centre in this novel. Her moral teaching is always convincing.

Carlyle
Carlyle is often called prophet and censor. You can read his Essay on Burns, about the Scotch poet, and you will learn his idea of criticism. He is interested in Burns and for his power of lyrical expressions. Also read “Heroes and Hero Worship” to know his idea of history. Sartor Resartus reflects his some of experiences of his own life.

Macaulay
Macaulay’s historical knowledge serves in writing his literary essays. You can read History of England. Also read his essays on Milton and Addison.

Arnold
The elements of Victorian life are reflected in Arnold’s poetry. There is coldness and sadness in his verses. In Sohrab and Rustum, he makes use of classical elements. His poetry and prose both are remarkable.

Ruskin
Ruskin is often considered as “the prophet of modern society”. His first two lectures in Sesame and Lilies give his views on wealth, books, education, labor, woman’s sphere, and human society.

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