The Various Poetic Elements

Words: 558
Topic: Literature

In his poem “Musee des Beaux Arts,” Wystan Auden uses ekphrasis, “a vivid description of a scene or, more commonly, a work of art” (“Glossary Terms”). Auden provides visual descriptions of a Breughel’s painting, “In Breughel’s Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away / Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may / Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,” (14-16). Besides, Auden refers not only to Breughel in the poem as he uses historical allusions referring to all prominent nineteenth century European painters naming them “The old Masters” (2). The next allusion is religious, and it alludes to Jesus Christ the Savior, “How, when the aged are reverently, passionately waiting / For the miraculous birth, there always must be” (5-6). A hint for understanding the allusion is “miraculous” birth that was “passionately” awaited. Moreover, there is another allusion that refers to Jesus Christ the Savior when Auden continues, “They never forgot / That even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course” (9-10). After miraculous birth, Jesus Christ suffered and was killed for his religion, and that is “martyrdom”.

The next poetic element that Auden uses in his poem “Musee des Beaux Arts” is irony. Describing Icarus’ death that is observed by a peasant, Auden writes, “Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may / Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry, / But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone” (15-16). Thus, the sun is shining, and it is not something important for a ploughman to notice Icarus fallings but “quite leisurely”.

William Yeats uses identical rhymes in his poem “He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven”. First, he repeats “cloths” and “light” two times:

Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light, (1-4)

Next four lines have the same rhythmic structure with two identical rhymes, “feet” and “dreams”:

The next stanza has I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams. (Yeats 5-8)

Thus, identical rhyme structure creates parallel connection between two parts of the poem: the wish and the reality. Besides, Yeats uses assonance (“embroidered” and “Enwrought”) and internal rhyme (“dreams”) in “But I, being poor, have only my dreams; / I have spread my dreams under your feet;” (1, 2, 6, 7). Moreover, repetition of the word “light” in one line, “Of night and light and the half-light” suggests a close coherence in this short poem (Yeats 4).

“Wild nights Wild nights!” by Emily Dickenson is peculiar for exclamations starting from the title and then continuing, “Wild nights Wild nights!”, “Our luxury!”, “Done with the Chart!”, “Ah, the Sea!”, and “In Thee!” (1, 4, 8, 10, 12) Exclamation marks emphasize the idea of “wild” nights. Use of alliteration and short lines, “Might I but moor — Tonight— / In Thee!” and “Done with the Compass – / Done with the Chart!” creates a particular abrupt and “wild” rhythm (Dickinson 11-12). Moreover, constant repetition of glade “w” in the poem emphasizes “wildness”:

Wild Nights — Wild Nights!
Were I with thee
Wild Nights should be
Our luxury!
Futile — the Winds – (Dickenson 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

Works Cited

Auden, Wystan. “Musee des Beaux Arts.” Literature and the Taste of Knowledge (The Empson Lectures). Ed. Michael Wood. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005: 61-62. Print.

Dickinson, Emily. “Wild nights – Wild nights!Poetry Foundation. n.d. Web.

Glossary Terms. n.d. Web.

Yeats, William. “He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven.” Poets. Academy of American Poets, n.d. Web.