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discuss the use of language in poetry giving examples

was given this task and i need urgent answers pliz
Fri, 21 Jun 2013 06:34 am
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LOL - that's rather a large subject :)

If I were you I'd choose a few famous poems - some traditional, some modern and analyse them.

I'd look at use of: imagery - similes - metaphors - assonance - rhyme - repetition. There is probably other stuff I've missed off.
Fri, 21 Jun 2013 07:22 am
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... and alliteration also...
Fri, 21 Jun 2013 08:42 am
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I agree but if stuck take poems of different topics, say one about love and another on a contemporary non-emotional topic and look at the use of language and how that defines mood and rhythm? Just an idea.
Wed, 3 Jul 2013 09:55 pm
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Isn't the point of a 'task/assignment' to do your own thinking? Maybe looking for 'guidance' would have been a better word. Such is language. Get a textbook on English, even a GCSE soft copy type, from any bookstore, not too expensive, and you'll be amazed at what you find. But there is no shortcut for thinking for yourself. I mean this kindly, and with all respect.
Fri, 5 Jul 2013 10:48 am
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I missed this at the time. I hope you found the replies helpful Allan.
Poetry is made with language but strangely it seems to be difficult to focus on how we use language to make poetry. There are some useful suggestions made here, but I suppose if you haven't studied language in poetry its not easy to engage with words like metaphor and alliteration.
I suppose you can look them up on Wikipedia and get some idea. How did you manage in the end? Was it enlighteneing?
Mon, 15 Jul 2013 10:14 am
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Here is a rough outline but you will have to find your own examples. Semantics and linguistic theory suggests that within the whole evolutionary maelstrom of the poet’s choice, synchronous arrangement (ie; syntax) and use of words, certain almost invisible yet innate laws operate to induce overall contiguity and meaning. Without them the use of language becomes pointless, confusing and meaningless.

The English language, like many other European tongues derived its essence from what is known as euphuism, (originally from Greek and Latin literature) which in Elizabethan England became a rather ornate, structured form of literary expression designed to impress and satisfy a largely educated and aristocratic audience and give the poor illiterates of the kingdom something to aspire to. Although it owes much to the Yorkshire born Roger Ascham (1515-1568) whose voluminous tome “The Schoolmaster” was based on Ciceronian models borrowed from Plato, which helped define a comprehensive teaching method for grammar in England’s newfound schools and universities. The 7 basic principles included goodness of wit (euphues), memory (mnemon), love of learning (philomathes), diligent application (philoponos), ability to learn from others (philekos), unbounded curiosity (zetetikos), and the love of praise and reward (philepainos). Performance of poetry, or drama, song or even dance, according to the ancient Greeks, should also have three essential qualities; Mania (madness, genius, frenzy), Logos (reason, logic) and Ecstasis (inspired rhetoric). While in the delivery of important speeches the ancient Greeks advocated that ethos (moral stance), logos (reason) and pathos (empathy) were considered the essential ingredients. It may also be worth bearing in mind that the art of oratory depends heavily on its deliverance to an audience and this delivery often relies on natural rhythms or patterns of assimilation through vocal emphasis or tone, mood and precise articulation and pronunciation. Therefore utterances of prose can be as equally powerful and moving as some poetry.

Euphuism, as it was applied to the Anglo-Saxon world was first popularised by the playwright John Lyly in his two-part prose romance Euphues (1578-80) and maintained an elaborate balance of thesis and antithesis whilst simultaneously being self-conscious and conceited. Euphuism required the multi-layered application in verse or drama of alliteration, labyrinthine similes and subtle metaphors, complex allusions, extraordinary syntax, as well as dynamic forms of rhetorical speech. It might be said that the euphuistic style, although it was only really popular for a decade, set a bench mark for the capacity of the English language to evolve further than it had ever done before. William Shakespeare assimilated and espoused the techniques of euphuism in his play Love’s Labours Lost.

However, one cannot discuss or appreciate the impact of euphuism in England without first understanding something of Greek and Latin prosody, especially the former with all its special diacritic marks which define how a word should be pronounced. Because spoken English lacked the sophistication and exacting properties of Latin or Greek it seemed expedient to imbue some classical principles into its everyday use and application, especially where public recitation, drama or widespread publication would expose most if not all of its fundamental linguistic crudities. Some writers and poets would argue of course that its essential crudities in the right hands which makes for creative assembly and reconstruction.

Rather than rely on the complex distinctions of ancient Greece or Rome by defining stressed or unstressed syllables in poetry many poetic forms, especially lyrical styles would benefit from new definitions or the use of those hieroglyphs employed by musicians. It would also define more accurately the delivery and not rely on the vagaries of dramatic rendition. Although clearly some poetry has only a visual or tonal impact on the listener or reader. Nevertheless, the ordering, selection and general arrangement of words, and their ongoing sequential characteristics or style are often associated with the unique creative potential a poet possesses. In Donald Davies’ book “Articulate Energy” he writes;

“We are at the stage in the development of our language when word order and idiom are becoming increasingly decisive in communication...but it may be questioned whether we yet sufficiently recognise how sensitive is the complex series of anticipations which is set up at each point in a sequence of words or phrases, and which enables a reader to select the appropriate elements of connotation from the words following.”

In other words sometimes the sheer anticipation of what we are about to hear next in poetry sets up a chain of semantic causality which often reinforces our perceptions, challenges our mindset or in an intellectual or emotive sense enlightens us. The alternative, innovative and creative use of syntax suggests a rearrangement of personal expectation and improves our personal experience and understanding. Some would say; takes us out of our “comfort zone”. The management of words and their articulation animates them and gives power and creative energy to the theme and makes communications generally more mysterious, exciting and sublime. Largely it is what and how something is said......

I have crossed an Ocean,
I have lost my tongue,
From the root of the old one
A new one has sprung.

While there may be many elements to be adjusted or defined within poetic expression the majority of them are identified by the aural patterns or structures underlying the arrangement or use of words. These are more clearly discernible when poetry is spoken or recited out loud. Patterns or rhythms may be created by the hard or soft/long/short stresses applied, by the arrangement or number of stanzas, by the rhyming or repetitive patterns themselves (metrical, phonetic or syllabic).
Fri, 18 Jul 2014 12:28 pm
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Phew!What are you trying to do to me man!

(Me `eads Hurtin` !...If me brain lasts, I`ll try and get back)
Sat, 19 Jul 2014 01:33 pm
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All poetry is written in at least one language. Does that help?
Sun, 20 Jul 2014 03:27 pm
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All poetry is written in at least one language. Does that help?
Sun, 20 Jul 2014 03:27 pm
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Instance: Ted Hughe's The Thought Fox is written in English. Petrarch's Sonnets were written in Italian.

More serious answer might be to compare and contrast a poem written in English with a poem written in Scots. Or one in non-standard English like Linton Kwesi Johnson's Sonny's Lettah. Discuss ehat that means to the poem's themed and impact, its intended audience and message.
Sun, 20 Jul 2014 03:33 pm
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I stopped studying modern literary theory when I read that `any text in the whole wide world can be`denconstructed` and realised that- if that was true - then so could the text: `any text in the whole wide world can be deconstructed`

This realisation helped me to understand why so many of these avante guarde poets were running around like happily headless chickens in their own individual cloud of ecstatic unknowingness.

Of the old theories I prefer Rhetoric, and this because of what I take to be it`s aim to persuade by the effective use of language. I am all for `intentionality` in the poet.

For a language to be effective it must be understandable to a reasonable intelligence. I wonder if, because poetry can sometimes (rarely) arouse some kind of `magically` inexplicable emotion, that some teachers tend to `magic` the whole process, and that is why we get so many idiosyncratic figurings in modern poetry.

On a site like this we are all beginners, or re-starters in our beloved craft of poetry and so we should be merciful in the judging of ourselves. But whether assessing our own poetry or that of the respected high flyers in the poetry world, the first task must be to analyse the words of the actual poem first – ascertain the intended aim and mode of it, and only then arrive at a decision about whether the poet has hit or missed his intention.

Jeremy Paxman`s word `inquisition` has ugly connotations, but an inclusive inquiry of what it is that us poets think that we are about is sorely needed today, and such an inquiry can only be basedd on a considerate analysis of actual poems
Mon, 21 Jul 2014 08:08 pm
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Harry, I'm with you!
Tue, 22 Jul 2014 01:12 pm
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They are using computers that are programmed with linguistic Algorhythms now to write poetry and it is especially good, there are some examples to hand at:


Yes, even a computer can run around like happily headless chickens in their own individual cloud of ecstatic unknowingness.....

Wed, 23 Jul 2014 03:28 pm
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Poetry can traverse religious experience in a few words, lend the unknowing mind thought it can seize on, it has properties of incantation - the young William Golding, frightened of spiders, was comforted with the Avon boy's: "Hence, you long-legged spinner!"

Away from the trivia of those Robert Graves called the Glee-men - that must have been an dismissive address in his day - I'd say of poetry, if we must talk, let us talk like this:

...Their monument sticks like a fishbone
in the city’s throat.
Its Colonel is as lean
as a compass-needle.

He has an angry wrenlike vigilance,
a greyhound’s gentle tautness;
he seems to wince at pleasure,
and suffocate for privacy.

He is out of bounds now. He rejoices in man’s lovely,
peculiar power to choose life and die--
(Robert Lowell)

Isn't that deft? In the last few lines the mystery of the cross, a volume by William James, that's poetry man. Yep.
Thu, 24 Jul 2014 08:43 am
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Although I assumed the question was about the English language-most likely I am reminded that the question is really about the way language is used as opposed to what language is employed in poetry. The topic is well analysed and discussed in Winifred Nowotny's book "The Language Poet's Use":


Where she ably illustrates how simile, analogy, metaphor etc distinguish prose, verse, rhetoric and poetry from everyday speech. That is moving from purely literal to figurative and symbolic elements. Above all it is about contect.
A monument is compared to a fishbone, a city appears to have a throat, a person's demeanour resembles that of an angry wren etc. However, she also mentions how everyday language and fiction has absorbed elements of poetry over time-to make it almost indistinguisable.
Thu, 24 Jul 2014 10:59 am
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everyday language and poetry: almost indistinguishable, yes and no, language is a fluid thing but poetry - which does several things at once - will be the spoken word at its best, at its most right. Then form and all the methods of words can be discussed up and down the scale, but I liked Willliam Carlos William's advice on working over a poem, something along the lines of, "if it doesn't work, take it out." Business as usual!
Thu, 24 Jul 2014 11:17 am
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like a poem should not be boring
Sun, 17 Aug 2014 11:29 am
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Andy Homecut

Very late, but this is designed for just that! Hopefully you will enjoy it too!

Tue, 28 Oct 2014 08:31 am
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