Friday, May 30, 2014

'A Stone's Throw", "God's Grandeur", "Theme For English B" and "Test Match, Sabina Park"

A crowd has caught a woman. The persona implies to the reader that the woman is not decent. She was beautiful, but scared because she had gotten 'roughed up' a little by the crowd. The persona states that the woman has experienced men's hands on her body before, but this crowd's hands were virtuous.
He also makes a proviso that if this crowd bruises her, it cannot be compared to what she has experienced before. The persona also speaks about a last assault and battery to come. He justifies this last assault by calling it justice, and it is justice that feels not only right, but good. The crowd's 'justice' is placed on hold by the interruption of a preacher, who stops to talk to the lady. He squats on the ground and writes something that the crowd cannot see. Essentially, the preacher judges them, thereby allowing the lady to also judge the crowd, leading to the crowd inevitably judging itself. The crowd walks away from the lady, still holding stones [which can be seen as a metaphor for judgments] that can be thrown another day.

The persona is making the point that the lady was in fact NOT decent looking.

This device is particularly effective because the word 'kisses' is used. Kiss implies something pleasant, but it is actually utilized to emphasize something painful that has happened to the lady; she was stoned.

3. PUN

Title: The title of the poem is itself a pun on two levels. A stone's throw is used by many people in the Caribbean to describe a close distance. eg. "She lives a stone's throw away". The other use of the title is to highlight the content of the poem. It is a figurative stoning, or judging, of a woman.

Line 23: There is a play on the word 'come'. The persona is telling the reader that the crowd is planning to rape the lady. This act is to come, or occur, in the near future. Come, in this context, also means to ejaculate, the culmination of the act of sex. The rapists in the crowd also plan to 'come'.

4. ALLUSION (biblical)
The content of the poem alludes to the story of Mary Magdalene in the Christian Bible. See John 8 v 5-7.

5. 'we'
This immediately tells the reader that the persona is in a crowd, which highlights to us that the mob mentality exists in this context. The crowd acts as one entity.
6. 'they'
The use of this word immediately alienates the lady and places her in the scornful realm of the 'other'.
7. 'dead scared'
The use of the term 'dead' to describe the lady's emotional state of fearfulness implies that she is extremely frightened, it is beyond regular fear.
8. 'tousled'
This word means to be handled roughly and, as a result, to look disorderly and disheveled. It is the perfect word to use in this context because it adds to the sexual innuendo that exists throughout the poem.
9. 'nothing much'
The persona disregards the damage that they have done to the lady. He admits to the rough treatment, but tries to make himself, and the crowd, look favourable despite their wrong doings.
10. 'But ours were virtuous, Of course'
This is almost like a tongue in cheek admittance that their touch was actually the opposite of virtuous. The use of the term 'of course' highlights this interpretation.
11. 'battery'
In the Caribbean context, battery refers to the slang term for the rape of an individual, conducted by several people in succession. Therefore, the persona is pointing out the intent of the crowd, or some people in the crowd.
12. 'Of right'
This is a clear indication, from the persona, that he believes that he and the mob are in the right.
13. 'tastes so good'
'Taste', to a lot of individuals, is one of the higher senses. Therefore, when the persona uses this word, he is highlighting the intense pleasure that he anticipates from meting out this 'justice'.
14. 'this guru, Preacher, God-merchant, God-knows-what'
The persona's annoyance at this individual for disrupting his fun comes out in this statement. The persona is deliberately being disrespectful.
15. '(Should never speak to them)'
This particular line speaks to the alienation that the lady faces. She is scornfully grouped as 'them'.
16. 'And saw in her something we couldn't see'
The intruder saw value in the lady, something that the crowd did not see.
17. 'He turned his eyes on us, Her eyes on us, Her eyes upon ourselves.'
This speaks to the fact that the preacher and the lady judge the crowd, and, more importantly, the crowd judges itself. The preacher's act of kindness sheds light on the cruelty that is inflicted on the lady by the crowd.
18. 'We walked away Still holding stones'
This implies that the crowd still plans to keep judging, and acting on their judgments, as they see fit.

The tone of the poem is mixed. At times it is almost braggadocious, then it becomes sarcastic, moving to scornful.

Discrimination, religion, survival, hypocrasy, oppression, alienation.



The first four lines of the octave (the first eight-line stanza of an Italian sonnet) describe a natural world through which God’s presence runs like an electrical current, becoming momentarily visible in flashes like the refracted glintings of light produced by metal foil when rumpled or quickly moved. Alternatively, God’s presence is a rich oil, a kind of sap that wells up “to a greatness” when tapped with a certain kind of patient pressure. Given these clear, strong proofs of God’s presence in the world, the poet asks how it is that humans fail to heed (“reck”) His divine authority (“his rod”).

The second quatrain within the octave describes the state of contemporary human life—the blind repetitiveness of human labor, and the sordidness and stain of “toil” and “trade.” The landscape in its natural state reflects God as its creator; but industry and the prioritization of the economic over the spiritual have transformed the landscape, and robbed humans of their sensitivity to the those few beauties of nature still left. The shoes people wear sever the physical connection between our feet and the earth they walk on, symbolizing an ever-increasing spiritual alienation from nature.

The sestet (the final six lines of the sonnet, enacting a turn or shift in argument) asserts that, in spite of the fallenness of Hopkins’s contemporary Victorian world, nature does not cease offering up its spiritual indices. Permeating the world is a deep “freshness” that testifies to the continual renewing power of God’s creation. This power of renewal is seen in the way morning always waits on the other side of dark night. The source of this constant regeneration is the grace of a God who “broods” over a seemingly lifeless world with the patient nurture of a mother hen. This final image is one of God guarding the potential of the world and containing within Himself the power and promise of rebirth. With the final exclamation (“ah! bright wings”) Hopkins suggests both an awed intuition of the beauty of God’s grace, and the joyful suddenness of a hatchling bird emerging out of God’s loving incubation.

What does the title tell us
The title tells us what the poem plans to do: illustrate the speaker’s vision of a quality of God, namely "grandeur." Grandeur is the quality of being "grand," which means "big," "fancy," "wonderful," or "splendid."

The seeming simplicity of the title does suggest that the poet isn’t interested in "selling" the poem, or giving it a snappy title to try to lure people into 
reading it. Nope. We have a simple statement of the focus of the poem. Enter if you wish.

This poem is an Italian sonnet—it contains fourteen lines divided into an octave and a sestet, which are separated by a shift in the argumentative direction of the poem. The meter here is not the “sprung rhythm” for which Hopkins is so famous, but it does vary somewhat from the iambic pentameter lines of the conventional sonnet. For example, Hopkins follows stressed syllable with stressed syllable in the fourth line of the poem, bolstering the urgency of his question: “Why do men then now not reck his rod?” Similarly, in the next line, the heavy, falling rhythm of “have trod, have trod, have trod,” coming after the quick lilt of “generations,” recreates the sound of plodding footsteps in striking onomatopoeia.

Man and the natural world, Religion, Transformation

  • Line 5: The repetition of "trod" sounds like people walking heavily, with broken spirits and bodies, on a broken earth. So we have onomatopoeia
  • Line 6: We agree there are big problems in the environment, but the word "all" is almost always a hyperbole alert. It does highlight the point. "Smeared" and "bleared" create imagery in the poem, making us picture a blurry, off-center world.
  • Line 7: Here the earth is personified, quite cleverly, with the word "wears," suggesting that humans have succeeded in making overthe earth in their own image, by making it look and smell human. But, we can take off what we wear. So the image remains on thesurface.
  • Lines 7-8: We have two synecdoches on our hands. The lonely "soil" comes to stand for all that has been taken away from thesurface of the planet. Likewise, the lonely "foot" that has forgotten how to "feel" due to the interference of the shoe. This image stands in for the whole of the human race, and its isolation from nature.
  • Line 4: The rhetorical question the speaker poses in the second part of the line is another way of asking, why can’t suffering people see the hope that’s right in front of them?
  • Line 9: Now we’re talking some serious hope, or some refreshment anyway. The sound of these abstract ideas, "dearest" and "freshness" combine with more concrete phrases, such as deep and down, to create some beautiful imagery. We can smell the freshness, feel the cool of underground springs. We see little seeds bursting underground before our eyes.
  • Line 10: Since the sun sets in the west, the west is closely associated with sunset. We can say the word west, and in the right context, people will know we mean sunset. That’s metonymy.
  • Line 11: "Morning" is personified in this line. It jumps and runs through the sky. Morning is also a metaphor for hope and clarity of mind. Morning sheds light.
The physical setting of "God’s Grandeur" is our planet, Earth. Though the poem was written in 1877, the images are easily transferable to today.

In the poem, the earth has a problem. Humans, in their struggle, have been mucking it up, caring more about money than preserving and protecting the planet. In the first stanza we see big factories, smoke stacks, and polluted waters and lands. In short, the first few lines present us with a barely inhabitable planet.

But then the poem moves underground, and shows us nature in hiding, full of potential, waiting to show its face again on the earth’s surface.

After that the setting is all sky – sunrise, sunset, the cloudlike image of the Holy Ghost as a dove, hovering over the planet.

The persona's lecturer gave him an assignment to write a page that reflects 'him', or his character. The persona wonders if this is a simple task, and begins to think about his life. Things like his age, place of birth, race and place of residence. Based on these musings, he surmises that he is confused due to his youth. He guesses that he is what he feels, sees and hears, which is Harlem, New York. He continues his musing about what he likes, and concludes that he likes the same things that people of other races like. On this basis, he questions whether or not his page will be influenced by race. He concludes that it will not be white. He admits that his instructor, as well as the fact that this instructor is white, will have some influence on his page. He states that they both influence each other, that is what being American is about. He believes that both of them might not want to influence each other, but it cannot be helped. He concludes that both of them will learn from each other, despite the fact that the instructor has the advantage of being older, white and 'more free'. All of these musings and conclusions become his page for English B.


Stanza 2, line 6: The persona ponders the ease of what he is asked to do. This question, in turn, actually highlights the difficult nature of the task.
Stanza 3, line24: This question highlights the persona's confusion as to who he is, or his character. He is unsure.
Stanza 4, line 32: The persona is wondering whether his race will affect  what he writes on the page. This is despite the fact that he concludes that race does not hinder people, in general, liking the same things.

This repetition emphasizes the profound impact that Harlem, New York, has had on the personality of the persona.

3.'here to this college on the hill above Harlem.'
The fact that the college is on a hill, above Harlem, is very important. It highlights the fact that the college is a superior entity. The people of Harlem look up at it, showing their inferiority.
4.'I am the only colored student in the class.'
This line emphasizes the persona's 'otherness' in relation to every-one else in the class. He is different. The isolation of the sentence (enclosed by full stops/periods) also emphasizes the persona's 'otherness'.
5.'The steps from the hill lead down into Harlem, through a park, then I cross St. Nicholas, Eighth Avenue, Seventh, and I come to the Y, the Harlem Branch Y, where I take the elevator up to my room' 
This line highlights the fact that the college is a great distance from his home. This distance is also metaphorical because it is implied that the experiences that he has at the college are also a great distance from the experiences that he has in Harlem. They are two different worlds.
6.'But it will be a part of you, instructor. You are white - yet a part of me, as I am a part of you.That's American.'
This statement reveals the fact that America is viewed as a melting pot by the persona. He believes that different races and cultures influence each other, thereby forming the term 'American'
7.As I learn from you, I guess you learn from me - although you're older - and white - and somewhat more free.
This statement, by the persona, repeats his belief that the American society is a melting pot. It also, however, states that not every-one is equal within this society.

* It is interesting to note that the persona's 'page for English B' becomes a journey of self discovery that actually does not end. He forms no conclusion as to who he is because his personality is still 'in process'

The mood of the poem is reflective.

The tone of the poem is also reflective.

Racism, places

Literal Meaning
The persona, a white male, proudly enters Sabina Park to watch a cricket match between England and the West Indies. The persona notices that the game is slow and that the crowd is not reacting well. He is, in fact, initially shocked that there is a crowd at all because this is usually not the case at Lords. By lunch, England is sixty eight for none, and the crowd gets abusive. They even state that maybe they should borrow Lawrence Rowe. The persona tries to explain the reason behind the slow pace of the British side, but fails to convince even himself. His embarrassment at England's performance has him eventually skulking out of the venue.


Stanza 2, lines 6-7: This question reveals that, despite the fact that cricket is a popular sport in England, the venues for the matches are not crowded. This question could also point to the fact that Sabina Park was very crowded.

Stanza 3, line 10: This question represents the general frustration of the West Indians in the crowd. They are annoyed that the cricket match is progressing so slowly.
Stanza 4, lines 16-18: These questions imply that the West Indian crowd's level of frustration has escalated. 

The allusion to Lawrence Rowe, a very colourful and successful West Indian cricketer, emphasizes the fact that the match is slow and boring.

To 'boycott' is to abstain from, or to stop, doing something. Therefore, the persona is being sarcastic because excitement is a good thing. People usually boycott for something negative, therefore the persona is, again, highlighting the slow and boring pace of the cricket match.

4.'rosette of my skin'
Rosette implies a reddish colour, or tint, to the skin, that sometimes resembles a rose. This description immediately identifies the race of the persona as caucasian. The persona is proud of his race, as he enters Sabina Park.
'This word means to walk proudly. It emphasizes the fact that the persona is proudly walking into Sabina Park.
6.'something badly amiss' 
The persona is jolted by the fact that the match is going slowly. The word 'amiss' implies wrong, the game should not be going so slowly.
7.'vociferous partisans'
Vociferous means to be very noisy and clamorous, while patisan is a person who shows biased, emotional allegiance. Therefore, the West Indian crowd was extremely noisy in their support of their team. They were also very unappreciative of the slow pace of the match.
8.'England sixty eight for none at lunch'
While this is a good score, it never-the-less highlights the slowness of the match, hence the fact that the experience, for the crowd, was far from exciting.
9.'the wicket slow'
The purpose of the wicket is to 'out' the opposing side. Therefore, no 'outing' is occurring, the wickets are standing. Everything about the match is going slowly. 
10.'sticky wickets'
This implies a sticky, or awkward situation. It highlights England's situation.
11.'loud 'busin'
The English team was being loudly abused.
12.'skulking behind a tarnished rosette'
Skulking implies hiding in shame, and tarnished means tainted. Therefore, the proud Englishman is now embarrassed, and the rosette of his skin is making him stand out. Initially this was a very good thing, but now it is a disadvantage. 
13.'blushing nationality'.
At this point, the Englishman admits to being embarrassed for his team, as well as himself.

*There is a distinct CONTRAST between the beginning of the poem when the persona is proud, and 'struts'. However, by the end of the poem, he is embarrassed and 'skulking'

There are two distinct voices in this poem. The English man's and the West Indian's.

The mood of the poem is tense.

The tone of the poem is one of frustration (West Indian) and embarrassment (English man).

Discrimination, places, culture and sports

How to Understand Poetry
Understanding the content or subject matter of the poem
Identifying and describing characters
Describing the setting
Writing a summary and descriptive paragraphs
Mastering the Content of the Poem
The first step in studying a poem is to gain an overall idea of what it is about through a rapid reading. Avoid looking at the dictionary or study notes at this first reading since you should be able to understand enough of the poem to get a general idea. Then the poem should be read several times more slowly and carefully. Underline words and phrases you think may be especially important. Make comments in the margins. Look up unfamiliar words in a dictionary. Master the content of the poem before you venture to study parts of it or its specific features.

How to identify the theme in a poem.

Many students and even experienced readers and writers feel a great deal of anxiety about trying to understand the meaning of a poem. Poems can often seem mysterious and confusing. Knowing how to read a poem and where to look for themes and meaning can help make reading poetry and writing about it less intimidating.

Examine the Title

Often, the title can point you in the right direction when you're trying to understand the meaning of a text. What does the title make you think the poem is about? Does it contain any key words that signal theme or meaning? Make note of them as you make your way through the poem.

Read Slowly and Read Aloud

Rushing through a poem just to get the meaning is one of the worst ways to read poetry. Often, poetry is not about primarily one main point; the meaning can be contained in the word choice, sounds and rhythm of a poem. Read your poem aloud several times and make note of your own experience. Does the poem seem to be harsh or soft? Elegant or rough? Are there any dominant words or sounds throughout the poem? Make note of your reactions as you read. This can help you to identify the important aspects of the poem.

Identify the Speaker

One important key to understanding a poem is to find out who is speaking. Is the narrator using "I," "you" or the third person? Does the speaker seem to be an individual person or a collective, such as a town, state, country or gender? If you can't identify the narrator specifically, at least notice whether the speaker seems to be directly addressing the audience versus telling a story about somebody else.

Determine the Subjects

Read through the poem and notice your first reaction. What seems to be the primary subject matter of the poem? What types of scenes does it depict, and what actions, events or emotions are discussed? Make note of every individual scene or description.

Determine the Types of Imagery and Metaphor Used

Poems often contain imagery, which refers to concrete descriptions. Metaphor and simile, which refer to comparisons, are also common and are often used in conjunction with imagery. Both of these elements can help you to understand the meaning of the poem. For example, a poem that includes imagery of dying or decaying fruit versus a poem full of imagery of ripe, healthy fruit might indicate a theme of death and dying rather than a theme of life and happiness. In addition, in terms of metaphor and simile, a relationship compared to a freshly picked apple is very different from a relationship compared to a cut of bloody meat! Pay careful attention to what the author chooses to compare and the imagery used throughout the poem.

The Poem Isn't Just About Meaning

Remember that poems don't always have only one identifiable meaning or theme. They are often about sharing an experience, feeling or idea. Try to relax and enjoy the poem as a whole.

How to analyze the poem: A Simple Guide to Analyzing Poetry

T - Title
P - Paraphrase
C - Connotation
A - Attitude
S - Shifts
T - Title (yes, again)
T - Theme (the most important part! aren't you excited?)

T - Title
First, you have to look at the title. Just look at it. Don't try to be all artistic and read into it, simply write down what your initial impression is. What immediately pops into your head? What does it make you feel? Any guesses as to what the poem's about? This step is important, as your initial impression of the title versus your final impression can reveal a lot about the poem itself.
P - Paraphrase
This is pretty self-explanatory. However, don't try to interpret the poem-- not just yet. Simply "translate" the poem into simpler language which won't get in the way of analysis later on. Don't skip any lines, or even words... make sure the phrasing of the poem makes complete sense to you before moving on to the next step.

-- addressing the speaker of the poem. The speaker is seldom just "a man" or "a young child." They may be either of those, but more important than whom they are, is what they are going through. In short, what is the situation of the speaker? Is the man mourning the loss of his wife? Is the child watching the ocean waves slowly erode his sandcastle? Knowing the speaker and their situation in life is the key to understanding a poem-- once you identify these; the remaining analysis is much simpler.
C - Connotation
Connotation is "an idea or feeling that a word evokes in addition to its literal or primary meaning." Establishing the connotation of significant words in the poem is extremely helpful in analysis. Look for words which:
-Cause an emotional or strong reaction in the reader (you!)
-"Stand out" because of unusual usage
-Appear to be related to the title or subject of the poem
Identify these words, and then determine their significance by examining the type of feelings they evoke, how they reflect the subject, and why the speaker is using that specific word instead of another.
A - Attitude
Our previous letter, C, most likely revealed the attitude of the speaker. Remember that the poet and speaker are not necessarily one in the same -- they could, in fact, have complete opposite attitudes toward the subject at hand. However, poets often write what they've experienced and what they know, so knowing a bit about the poet's background may help when determining the speaker's attitude.
Reflect on the connotation of the words. Let's say you're reading a poem about dogs, since so many poets pick this as their topic of choice. If words and phrases such as "wagging tail," "eager," "loyal," and "man's best friend" are used, you'd probably assume that the speaker has a positive attitude toward the subject. They like dogs. Imagine, however, that none of those words are in the poem-- instead, it contains "slobbering," "noisy," "smelly," and "obnoxious barking." In that case, it would be a better guess that the speaker is not so fond of dogs.
S - Shifts
Identifying the shifts in a poem can reveal multiple attitudes, themes or even speakers. A "shift" is characterized most often by a change in mood or tone, but here are some things to look for when searching for shifts:
-A new stanza
-Transition words (but, yet, however)
-Changes in diction
-Change in speaker
-Unusual punctuation
Often the first section of a poem prepares the reader for the theme, and after a shift the true theme and message of the poem is revealed.
T - Title
Now that you're almost done analyzing your poem, it's time to re-examine the title. Before, it was only a surface-level interpretation; now, you can apply all of your analysis of the poem to a new and more in-depth interpretation of the title. Think about the following:
-Look over your original guess/interpretation and see if you still agree. If not, what are the differences in the surface meaning and deeper meaning? Is there use of an extended metaphor?
-Does the title utilize any kind of poetic devices (ex. alliteration, allusion, metaphor) which add to the meaning of the poem?
-In the context of the poem, does the title suggest a possible theme?
T - Theme
Finally, the last step of analyzing poetry! It's time to get to the heart of the poem and identify the theme. The theme of a poem usually relates to a universal truth, issue, or conflict.
A theme is best stated in sentence form-- "love" can be a theme but it is not specific at all. Instead, "love conquers all" would be a more detailed and acceptable theme.
To identify the theme, look over all of your analysis and find the connecting threads:
-What's the subject?
-Who is the speaker, what situation are they in, and how do they feel about the subject?
-Is there more than one speaker or attitude toward the subject? Why?
-How does the poet's use of diction (word choice) and other poetic devices help the reader better understand the poem?
Once you identify the theme of a poem, you have, at the very least, an interpretation which you can back up with supporting details. It may or may not be what the poet was attempting to express, but poetry is open to many different interpretations.


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