STYLISTIC ANALYSIS OF TED HUGHES’ POEM “CADENZA”, Zoya Aziz

CADENZA

The violinist’s shadow vanishes.

 

The husk of a grasshopper

Sucks a remote cyclone and rises.

 

The full bared throat of a woman walking water

The loaded estuary of the dead.

 

And I am the cargo

Of a coffin attended by swallows.

 

And I am the water

Bearing the coffin that will not be silent.

 

The clouds are full of surgery and collisions

But the coffin escapes – as a black diamond.

 

A ruby brimming blood,

An emerald beating its shores,

 

The sea lifts swallow wings and flings

A summer lake open,

 

Sips and bewilders its reflection,

Till the whole sky dives shut like a burned land back to its spark –

 

A bat with a ghost in its mouth

Struck at by lightnings of silence –

 

Blue with sweat, the violinist

Crashes into the orchestra, which explodes.

 

INTRODUCTION

Immediate and visceral, Ted Hughes’ poetry attempts to make sense of a human world forged by primitive and animal forces. A charismatic presence, Hughes was also famed for the mesmerizing force of his reading voice.

Hughes was born in 1930 into a working class family in Mytholmroyd, Yorkshire. He studied English at Cambridge, but transferred to Anthropology, where he immersed himself in the study of myth and pre-history. And it was at Cambridge that Hughes met the American poet Sylvia Plath. In 1956, after a four-month romance, they married. The darkness of Hughes’ poetry was matched by the drama of his personal life – the strained marriage to Plath, ended in her suicide in 1963, followed by the death of his lover Assia Wevill, who killed herself and her daughter in 1969. His Tales from Ovid reworked the Metamorphoses, to show what happens when mortal passions are lifted to a mythic plane. In many ways, this is the same theme explored in his final volume, Birthday Letters, the book of poems about Plath that brought Hughes to a wider audience.

Cadenza in a literal sense is a difficult part of a piece of classical music performed by only one person near the end of the piece. Judging from the title, the reader can establish that this piece of poetry, akin to music, will be an abstract read. The poem also takes on a violent, confusing tone at the end, making it more tactile than understandable. Its structure, like many of Hughes’ poems, is linked with the central theme of the poem. It follows two line stanzas, except the first line, which stands unaccompanied, purposely dedicated to the artist and to the musician, reconciling all differences between them. The rest of the poem is a series of stanzas paired by two sentences, both long and short, similar to the high and low notes of a cadenza. This ornamental piece of music as well as poetry consists of a series of images, of death-terror, lost love, and mourning. They make for a dazzling surrealist elegy, for the poet’s wife Sylvia Plath and the rhythmic idiom inevitably recalls, because it echoes and summons up their very tone and pitch, the voice and tone of her poetry.

I will attempt to stylistically analyse the poem “Cadenza” through its Lexical syntactic patterns and choices, its figurative language and its phonological sound patterns.

A. Lexical syntactic patterns and choices

The poem is dominated by concrete nouns and complex vocabulary. The nature of this complexity is less to do with difficult words and more to do with the confluence of complex and simple as well as descriptive vocabulary that render the poem hard to understand at its first reading.

Concrete nouns Adjectives Complex Vocabulary
Violinist Remote Cyclone
Grasshopper Full bared Estuary
Swallows Loaded Surgery
Coffin   Collisions
Black Diamond   Brimming
Ruby   Bewilders
Emerald    

 

The poet’s use of diction in the poem is formal, as per the requirement of Cadenza as a musical performance. It should not be forgotten that cadenza is different from a regular performance of music. It is played for dramatic performances, and follows a strict code of rules to bring about a harsh, pregnant atmosphere. This is further evidenced by the various semantic fields employed in the poem as well as can be judged by the use of inflectional morphemes by the poet. With the use of words such as “swallow”, “mouth”, and “suck”, the poet creates an image of hunger. The use of thunderstorm imagery with words such as “lightnings”, “sky”, “clouds”, and “cyclone”, and the vocabulary associated with them, the poem describes the ominous climate of his heart. The verses of the poem add yet another semantic field to the poem, that of death and suffering; “coffin”, “dead”, “surgery”. A further ominous tone of an on-going storm has also been developed by the use of dark as well as fluid water imagery; “sea”, “swallow”, “water”, “blood”, “sips”, “estuary”. An advanced research into the sound of the poem reveals the use of word inflections in which grammatical category of a word changes within syntactic category of the word and details about smallest unit morpheme. These words, in this case the morpheme ‘s’ and ‘es’, perform the function of giving the poem the tense of the present, as well as of plurality, which is then indicative of the poet’s ability to pull himself out of the past and make his space in the present. Examples of these words can be found throughout the poem; sucks, rises, escapes, lifts, flings, sips, bewilders, dives, crashes, explodes.

B. FIGURATIVE LANGUAGE

Judging from the title of the poem, the reader would expect the poem to belong to musical origins, but since Ted Hughes’ poetry is representative of his times the poem deviates from its musical connotations and makes use of figures of speech to get the essentials of the modern era across.

SIMILE

“As a black diamond”

“Like a burned land”

PERSONIFICATION

“A ruby brimming blood”

“An emerald beating its shores”

“The sea lifts swallow wings and flings”

“The coffin that will not be silent”

EXAGGERATION/HYPERBOLE

“Blue with sweat”

“The husk of a grasshopper sucks a remote cyclone and rises”

“Till the whole sky dives shut like a burned land back to its spark”

“A bat with a ghost in its mouth”

METAPHOR

“The clouds are full of surgery and collisions”

“A ruby brimming blood”

“An emerald beating its shores”

C. PHONOLOGICAL SOUND PATTERNS

ALLITERATION

Violinist’s shadow Vanishes

Woman Walking Water

RuBy Brimming Blood

ASSONANCE

womAn wAlking wAter

LIfts swallow wIngs and flIngs

CONSONANCE

The sea liftS swallow wingS and flingS

SipS and bewilderS its reflection

Till the whole Sky diveS Shut

CrasheS into the orcheStra

MORPHOLOGICAL PARALLELISM

The sound of S that dominates the entire poem

CLIMAX

Blue with sweat, the violinist

Crashes into the orchestra, which explodes

FINDINGS AND CONCLUSION

The poem Cadenza characterizes the psychotic states of personality and total withdrawal from the society. The writer makes use of assertive, declarative sentences.

For example

And I am the cargo

And I am the water

The sea lifts swallow wings and flings

Blue with sweat, the violinist

Crashes into the orchestra, which explodes

The word “shadow” in the first line ,used as a noun, represents darkness and desire, and as it “vanishes”, so does the poet’s persona. The idea of the grasshopper “suck[ing]” the “cyclone” and then “rising” suggests that destruction is not always an end but it can also be a positive change. The next couplet is filled with heavy words such as “loaded”, “full”, “estuary”. This suggests that the poet is heavy with the burden of expressing himself through music. The use of “I” is a clear indication of symbolism to the cargo, as if Hughes is the transporter carrying the coffin. The coffin is “attended by swallows”. This is yet another indication towards the fact that death is not an end but a kind of freedom, for the bird swallow represents the idea of freedom. In the next couplet the poet takes on the persona of “water”, which is another means of transportation. The next couplet presents a metaphor as in the first couplet, “the clouds are full of surgery”. This metaphor is used to describe the changing shape of the clouds to accommodate the dead. In the following lines two kinds of stones are mentioned, “black diamond” is used for the dead and “ruby” is used for the living. The single line stanza at the beginning shows the loneliness and the isolation of the violinist and of the poet mourning the death of his wife. The choice of formal language suggests some level of respect on the poet’s part for the audience as well his deceased wife. The poet suggests the depth/intensity of his feelings for his wife through the use of descriptive words. The use of animal imagery is crucial to the poem as both the grasshopper and the swallows can fly, and that’s suggestive of the poet’s positive hopes for the future of his times and nation, as well as of his personal state of mind where he is grieving the death of his wife.

“Howl” by Allen Ginsberg – A Stylistic Analysis by Momina Masood

“Howl” by Allen Ginsberg – A Stylistic Analysis by Momina Masood

[The selected poem could be found here. This is an analysis of the III section of the poem.]

allen-ginsberg-1

Introduction:

Allen Ginsberg was a representative poet of the Beat Generation—a counterculture literary movement which revolutionized the creative process, and developed a major cult following on both sides of the Atlantic, and beyond. Ginsberg wrote his magnum opus, Howl, addressed to his friend Carl Solomon, a friend he met at a mental institute. This essay will look at the linguistic features of the third section of Howl, and will try to excavate meaning through stylistic techniques.

Lexical Categories:

The third section of Howl uses a consistent semantic field of madness and insanity, and words like

“madder”, “strange”, “hospital”, “nurses”, “imaginary”, “coughs”, “dreadful”, “murdered”, “insanity”, “coma”

create the ambience of the inside of a mental institute, and perhaps also represents the interiority of the mind of the mentally insane, in this case, Carl Solomon himself. The vocabulary is simple, but is highly specialized as it uses the jargon associated with asylums like “shocks” and “straightjackets”—words that are commonly associated with “madhouses”. Ginsberg’s use of specialized lexemes, therefore, prepares the reader for a journey inside the mental asylum of Rockland. Phrases like “faculties of the skull” and “worms of the senses” again give a picaresque view inside the mind of the mentally insane, and are appropriate choice for a poem of this subject-matter.

The language is very descriptive as it keeps using the sub-clause beginning with the relative “where….” and so on, through which the poem tries to describe the living conditions inside Rockland, as well as to describe Solomon’s deteriorating state of mind. The poem uses the technique of apostrophe as it is addressed to a person whose point of view is absent from the poem. Collocation is used in phrases like “your condition has become serious”—words like “condition” and “serious” are used often together in collocation, which goes to show that Ginsberg’s lexical choices make the poem conversational and colloquial. His style is not overtly poetic or difficult, but uses ordinary and simple words which make his works accessible for the reader.   

Morphological Categories:

I’m with you in Rockland,”

The entire poem uses the present tense so verbs are hardly ever inflected into another tense except for two instances where Ginsberg uses a past and a future tense. The only instant of past tense inflectional morpheme is in the phrase “you’ve murdered”, and future tense is used much later on in the poem like in “where you will split”.

Most of the verbs are stative and intransitive where the action is not being carried over to another object, and the chosen verbs simply denote a state of being. This is because inaction and passivity is usually denoted with mental patients. Adjectives like “catatonic” are once again indicative of the state of Rockland itself where even the piano remains unplayed, and the state of Solomon himself. It is for this reason that verbs like:

“feel”, “imitate”, “laugh”, “drink”, “pun”, “scream”, “accuse”, “wake up”

denote Solomon’s condition who seems to be in mental limbo. The use of present tense is important because through the repetition of “I’m with you” he seems to be creating a sense of intimacy with Solomon, that despite everything, and despite the fact that both of them have moved on in their lives, Ginsberg still feels that he is still with Solomon in the mental asylum in which they met. Distance and time are overcome through the use of the present tense.

Inflectional morphemes are used much more than derivational morphemes which are scarce like “skinny” and “imaginary” which are used in the last section of the poem. Compound morphemes are also used like “typewriter”, “starry-spangled”, “underwear”, “madhouse” and “straightjacket”, whereas Ginsberg uses affix in “ungodly” which in totality becomes a derivational morpheme which is indicative of the absence of divinity in the mental asylum, and in American society as a whole.

As the poem progresses the verbs show more dynamic action, thus endowing the subject addressed with more agency and power. Verbs like “walk”, “bang” and “run” are used to show Ginsberg’s vision of the future in which the walls of the asylum will collapse, and the oppressed and marginalized will taste freedom.

Plural inflectional morphemes are used in abundance like “nurses”, “secretaries”, “harpies” and “bodies”. As indicative from the morphological analysis of this poem, the poem is written in a straightforward manner with few derivational morphemes and only commonplace inflectional morphemes, as the poem situates itself in the present tense.

Grammatical Categories:

Much of the poem is constructed of complex assertive sentences where the poet simply declares and makes statements without wishing or expressing desire. Only the last section of the poem has imperative and exclamatory sentences like:

“O skinny legions run outside [imperative] O starry-spangled shock of mercy the eternal war is here O victory forget your underwear we’re free [exclamatory]

A large part of the poem is constructed of complex sentences, with the independent clause which is repeated throughout is connected to the dependent clause through relative pronouns. The adverb phrase “in Rockland” is repeated throughout the poem, and the adjective sub-clause “where…” is used to describe Rockland itself and Solomon’s condition. Mostly the phrases used are verb phrases denoting action, and adverbial phrases qualifying that action. Noun phrases like “we are great writers” are used but very rarely. There are instances of noun clauses like:

“faculties of the skull no longer admit the worms of the senses”

As well as “harpies of the Bronx”, and “the soul is innocent and immortal”.

And long adjective clauses are used as well like the following which is qualifying the noun “tea”:

“of the breasts of the spinsters of Utica”

Participle clause is used in the latter half of the poem like “living human Jesus” where “living” is used as an adjective. Adjective phrases like “that coughs all night” and “electrified out of the coma” are used to describe vividly the decrepitude of American society as well as Solomon himself. Infinitive phrase “to drop angelic bombs” is used as well.

Most of the phrases in the last half of the poem are prepositional phrases which occasionally serve as adverbials and as adjectives like:

“under the bedsheets” (adverb), “in the Western night” (adverb), “in my dreams” (adverbs), “in tears” (adjective), “on the highway across America” (adverb).

Through a grammatical analysis, it is evident that the poem is comprised mostly of adjectives and prepositional phrases, both of which are used to describe objects and states and give accessory information about the subject. There are two subjects: Rockland and Solomon himself (denoted by “you”), and the poem is written in second person. The verbs, as mentioned earlier, are stative but increase in dynamism in the last half of the poem.

Figurative Categories:

This poem is rich in figurative language. It is highly metaphorical and symbolic as Solomon’s condition is used as a metaphor to provide commentary on postwar American society.

There is an early use of hyperbole in the phrase:

“you’ve murdered your twelve secretaries”

which is, of course, untrue, but such exaggeration is used to give insight into the extent of Solomon’s insanity which is later reinforced by another use of hyperbole in the clause:

“your condition has become serious and is reported on the radio”.

Metaphors like “worms of the senses” stand for unpleasant thoughts from which a mentally ill person cannot free himself; the mind appears entangled in thoughts which, like, worms seem to creep in unnoticed. The metaphor “pingpong of the abyss” is very important as it shows Solomon’s dwindling between moments of clarity and then consequent madness; Solomon is battling life and death, oblivion and insanity, and this perpetual pingpong defines his life in the asylum. Another metaphor similar to this is the line:

“fifty more shocks will never return your soul to its body again from its pilgrimage to a cross in the void”.

This is a metaphor for Carl’s mental state; it’s like he’s gone to a pilgrimage in the void or a state of nothingness, oblivion and insanity from which no amount of shock therapy can bring him back.

A metaphor which is indicative of urban middle-class American society is

“tea of the breasts of the spinsters of Utica”

which is a metaphor of New York urban middle-class lifestyle. Also spinsters are symbolic of infertility and thus they literally cannot produce milk but can only serve tea—this phrase indicates infertility and middle-class lifestyle. Another reference to American society is “nurses as harpies of the Bronx”—harpies are monsters from Greek mythology (this makes this an allusion as well) who were half-women and half-monsters. The nurses of Rockland appear to Solomon as monsters as he hallucinates inside the asylum, indicative of the state of the mentally insane.

In phrase “imaginary walls collapse”, Ginsberg makes use of a synecdoche as walls represent the mental asylum, as well as the confines and strictures of society itself. Words like “straightjacket” metonymize a mental institution which is further personified in the phrase “armed madhouse”. The madhouse being armed shows that it is fenced in and closed off from the rest of society which makes the mentally insane alienated and positioned at the margins of American society. Personification is further used in the line:

“the United States under our bedsheets the United States that coughs all night and won’t let us sleep”

The idea of a country coughing shows its worsening state under “stunned governments” (a phrase Ginsberg uses elsewhere in his poetry), and this idea of a society dying is reinforced and repeated especially in the last verses where there is mention of “planes dropping bombs” which is a reference to the memory of the Second World War. In “mercy the eternal war is here”, Ginsberg uses an antithesis where “mercy” and “war” are used close together.

In the last line of the poem:

“in my dreams you walk dripping from a sea-journey on the highway across America in tears to the door of my cottage in the Western night”

There is a proper sense of climax developed that Carl Solomon has finally escaped from the asylum, and the poet dreams of him coming to meet him, after the nightmare of illness is over and behind him. This is also a metaphor for utopian vision for a better future, a healthy American society which opens itself to the “skinny legions” which is a metaphor for the marginalized and the oppressed living on the peripheries of American society.

But the last lines are ironical as well because Ginsberg views a free society where the insane will take over with their skinny sickly figures, without wearing underwear, and instead of endowing them with power, they’re escaping and taking over the world as they’re dying.

Another set of important metaphors which give insight into the poem’s meaning is the clause “reconstruct your living human jesus” which is slightly antithetical since the Christian concept of Jesus views him as the Son of God, a divine figure, so the idea of a “living human jesus” means that the faith Ginsberg is trying to resurrect is that of humanity and compassion, not of unreachable divinity, or a kind of god which is at a distance from man. The Christ who will return once again to earth will no longer be the Son of God, but one of mankind.

Another biblical allusion is in the clause

“plot the Hebrew socialist revolution against the fascist national Golgotha”.

Golgotha was the place Jesus was crucified, and the entire clause could be a metaphor for a search for freedom against bureaucracy, capitalism and urbanity. There is also an allusion to communism as Ginsberg makes use of the word “Internationale” which was the communist anthem. This is important to show the paranoia American society had for communism entering its borders unnoticed, as the later McCarthy trials would later go on to prove.

Through a figurative level analysis of this poem, it is evident that this poem deals with more than just Solomon’s illness, but it is a mediation upon postwar American society, and the threat capitalism and urbanity poses to the individual who might, in fact, simply lose his mind.

Deviation and Parallelism:

All kinds of parallelism are used in the poem. Graphologically, the poem uses the similar structure of one short and long line alternatively. There is graphological deviation only in the last lines of the poem which have a series of lines, instead of the (iI) structure.

Anaphoric repetition of the first line “I’m with you in Rockland” is the most obvious feature of repetition in the poem. The syntactical structure of a complex sentence [one short main clause + one short sub-clause] is repeated throughout the poem. Deviation can only be found in the last few verses of the poem:

“where we wake up electrified out of the coma by our own souls’ airplanes roaring over the roof they’ve come to drop angelic bombs the hospital illuminates itself imaginary walls collapse O skinny legions run outside O starry-spangled shock of mercy the eternal war is here O victory forget your underwear we’re free”

This entire section uses graphological deviation. No punctuation and capitalization is used, and only spaces are left between sentences, and all of this shows how the mental patient actually thinks. The fragmentation of conscious thought is graphically shown through the breakdown of structure in this section.

Apart from this obvious instance of deviation, the poem does not use appropriate punctuation and lexical deviation is used in words like “twentyfive” which is written like a compound word without a hyphen, and semantic deviation in phrases like “split the heavens of Long Island” which is logically impossible but is used as a metaphor for the reconstruction of a better society.

There is only one instance of register deviation in “pun on the bodies” which is a slang expression for the sexual act. Through the study of deviation and parallelism, it is evident how the poem creates a sense of cohesion, and where that cohesion is broken for poetic purposes.  

Phonological Schemes:

There is no fixed rhyme in this poem, though the anaphoric repetition of “I’m with you in Rockland” does create rhythm in the poem. Cases of alliteration are scarce like in the phrase “breasts of the spinsters” and “fascist national”. Overall the poem makes use of hard phonemes, and there are several uses of [d] and [t] sounds, which adds into the ambience of the poem. The lack of musicality is justified as the poem is an unflinching treatment of insanity and societal degeneration.

Coherence and Cohesion:

Through repetition and parallelism, cohesion is established in the poem. Since the subject of the poem never changes, the reader can sail through the poem smoothly. It is never doubted what the poem is about through its simple language. Semantic cohesion and coherence has been achieved by making use of collocation and semantic field which uses specialized vocabulary according to the subject matter. Cohesion only breaks down at the end of the poem and it becomes fragmented but this breakdown of cohesion is important as it reflects upon the state of the mind of the mentally ill.

The knowledge of Ginsberg’s personal struggle with mental illness can help the reader in analyzing this poem, as well as the context in which the poem was written. But even without knowledge of the context, the poem remains coherent and cohesively bound.

Conclusion:

Stylistics is an important linguistic technique in analyzing literature as it brings to light the mechanics of language, the way meaning is created through language use, and how that meaning can be attained simply by a deconstruction of language use. By analyzing the lexical choices as well as the grammatical structure of a poem, the meaning comes floating to the surface. Ginsberg’s Howl remains one of the most important poems of the 20th century, and any kind of analysis is a contribution to the study of the Beat poets, as well as an exploration of postwar American society.

Stylistic Analysis of the poem “Anthem for Doomed Youth” by Wilfred Owen. Amina Mehmood

Stylistic analysis of
“Anthem for Doomed Youth”
by Wilfred Owen

 

Amina Mehmood

M.Phil English

Ms. Amna Shahid

29 January 2017

 

Anthem for Doomed Youth

What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?

— Only the monstrous anger of the guns.

Only the stuttering rifles’ rapid rattle

Can patter out their hasty orisons.

No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells;

Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs,—

The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;

And bugles calling for them from sad shires.

 

What candles may be held to speed them all?

Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes

Shall shine the holy glimmers of goodbyes.

The pallor of girls’ brows shall be their pall;

Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,

And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.

 

Abstract

This paper is based on the stylistic analysis of the poem “Anthem for Doomed Youth” by Wilfred Owen. The stylistic analysis of this poem works on different level such as lexical, graphological, grammatical, figure of speech, and phonological. The stylistic analysis assists to unfold the hidden meaning of the poet’s thoughts. The stylistic devices used in this poem are the settings of the poem along with the figures of speech. Through this analysis it will be explored through different techniques and devices that how choice of words help create meaning in literary text and how they form meaning in harmonious way. The literal and non-literal meanings of the poem, bring to light the misery and helplessness of soldiers fighting in the battlefield and face death.

Stylistics:

Stylistics is a branch of applied linguistics. It is the study and interpretation of texts in regard to their linguistic and tonal style. Stylistic analysis deals with the sound patterns, figures of speech, tone, grammatical use of verbs, nouns and adjectives etc. It imparts new meanings to any text and provide an insight to the poem through the use of different techniques used by the poet.

Stylistically, the poem will be explored on the following levels;

  1. Lexical level
  2. Graphological Level
  3. Grammatical level
  4. Figurative Level
  5. Phonological Level
  6. Context and Cohesion

Significance of the title:

The title of the poem “Anthem for Doomed Youth” is significant in imparting meaning to the poem. The title itself is ironic because anthem is sung for celebration but here the word anthem is used to mourn the death of doomed soldiers who die in war and there is no one around to give them respectful burial. The word “anthem” therefore is elegiac and infers lament and sadness.

Lexical Level:

Vocabulary:

Specific words

Words related to war

Words related to religion/ funeral

The choice of vocabulary is simple as well as specific to the context of the poem. The poet has employed specific words in the poem which have been derived from the field of battle and war. Some words have also been taken from the religious field to highlight the importance of funeral and respect attached with the ritual of death.

Nouns:

Bells                      Choirs               Girls

Cattle                    Bugles               Brows

Anger                    Shires                Pall

Guns                      Candles             Flowers

Rifles                     Hands               Tenderness

Rattle                     Boys                 Minds

Orisons                  Eyes                  Dusk

Mockeries              Glimmers         Blinds

Prayers                   Goodbyes

Mourning               Pallor

The excessive use of nouns in the poem reflects that the emphasis is upon human individuals and their suffering. The words bells, rifles, guns highlight the butchery of war. The words like prayers, mourning, flowers, dusk, blinds, and goodbyes suggest the ritual of death which the soldiers are being deprived of.

Adjectives:

Monstrous               Demented           rapid

Wailing                     slow                      hasty

Sad                             stuttering             shrill

Patient                     hasty

The use of adjectives is to bring home the idea that death and sadness is lurking in the lives of individuals. The adjectives ‘rapid’ ‘hasty’ ‘stuttering’ ‘shrill’ and ‘monstrous’ lend the movement and destructive quality to the poem.

Graphological Level:

On graphological level, the poem is written on the pattern of a sonnet. There is no semantic, lexical or graphological deviation in the poem.

Grammatical Level:

Morphemes:

There are bound morphemes employed in the poem which are:

Bell-s

Gun-s

Stutter-ing

Rifle-s

Orison-s

Prayer-s

Choir-s

Wail-ing

Candle-s

Boy-s

Eye-s

Glimmer-s

Goodbye-s

Tender-ness

Blind-s

Noun Phrases:

Monstrous anger

Stuttering rifles

Demented choirs

Wailing shells

Hasty orisons

Patient minds

These noun phrase infer meanings to the overall understanding of the fact that there is a lot of sadness which is associated with the soldiers’ death.

Figurative Level:

Figures of Speech

Simile

  • What passing-bells for those who die as cattle?

“die as cattle” suggests that soldiers are as vulnerable and insignificant as the cattle who are killed mercilessly.

Metaphors

.What candles may be held to speed them all?

.Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes

.shall shine the holy glimmers of goodbyes

.The pallor of girls’ brows shall be their pall

.And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.

These metaphors suggest that there is no one who is going to mourn the death of soldiers. Instead of candles, the tears shining in the eyes will say them goodbye. The pale yellowish colour of the girls would work as the coffin for them and drawing dusk will cover their faces instead of a shroud.

Personification

  • Monstrous anger of the guns
  • Stuttering rifles rapid rattle
  • Choirs of wailing shells

‘guns’ ‘rifles’ and ‘shells’ are giving human qualities to heighten the effect of death which is presented as an angry and monstrous figure.

Phonological Level:

Parallelism

No mockeries now for them; nor prayers nor bells;

 Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs

Alliteration

  • stuttering rifles’ rapid rattle
  • Shall shine the holy glimmers of goodbyes
  • dusk a drawing-down of blinds

Consonance

  • What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
  • monstrous anger of the guns
  • Shrill choirs of wailing shells
  • The pallor of girls’ brows shall be their pall

 

Movement in the poem

(Passing, stuttering, rapid, hasty, calling, speed, slow)

Imagery

  • Religious imagery: (bells, prayers, choir, candles, holy)
  • War imagery: (guns, rifles, shells, bugles)
  • Imagery of death: (die, mourning, wailing, sad, pall)

Coherence and Cohesion:

All the figures of speech, nouns, adjectives and phonological sound patterns create coherence and cohesion in the poem and each component infers different meaning to the poem which adds to the context of the poem.

Analysis:

The selection of words suggest that poet laments the death of those soldiers who die like cattle in an undignified mass. They are not granted the rituals and rites of Christian funeral. They do not get real prayers, only rifle fire. It suggests that religion cannot offer much consolation to those dying on the front. The religious images symbolize the sanctity of life and death while suggesting the inadequacy of religion measured against such a cataclysm as war. The tone of the poem is dolorous yet consolatory. It leaves a note of finality, of lingering sadness and an inability to avoid the reality of horrible death in war.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

         

Stylistical Analysis of “I Will Be” by E.E. Cummings, Jari Ullah

Stylistical Analysis of “I Will Be” by E.E. Cummings

By: Jari Ullah

M.Phil

Punjab University

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Abstract

The paper will present a stylistical analysis of E E Cummings poem “I Will Be”. The analysis will be based on five levels lexical categories general, lexical categories specific, grammatical categories, figures of speech, schemes and phonological sound patterns (grammatical and lexical schemes, Deviation). The purpose of the paper is to explore how Cummings employs meanings through the systematic use of language and words and how the word choice affects the reader in terms of conveyance of meaning.

Biography of the Poet

            Edward Estlin “E. E.” Cummings (Oct 14, 1894 – Sep 3, 1962), often styled as “e e cummings” (as lower case letters in his poems) was an American poet, painter, essayist, author, and playwright. He wrote approximately 2,900 poems; two autobiographical novels; four plays and several essays. Cummings wrote poems and also drew as a child, that’s why most of his poetry is a canvas full of modern painting form and structure. He wrote poetry, rather painted it in unconventional pattern, his “attempts to articulate visual thinking and bring into poetry the aesthetic values of the painters.”(Kidder). Richard S. Kennedy says, “writing and self were never very far apart for E E Cummings” and Norman Friedman said, there are “varieties and methods in his masterpieces”. He graduated from Harvard University in 1915 and then received an advanced degree from Harvard in 1916. He wrote poetry daily aged 8 to 22, exploring assorted forms. He went to Harvard and developed an interest in modern poetry which ignored conventional grammar and syntax, aiming for a dynamic use of language. His collection Tulips and Chimneys came in 1923 and his inventive use of grammar and syntax is evident. The book was heavily cut by his editor. XLI Poems, was then published in 1925. With these collections Cummings made his reputation as an avant garde poet.

I Will Be is one of Cummings’s love poems which encapsulate themes of nature, childhood and time also in it. Its main theme of love for the beloved and for the nature dominates most. The poem is very short; it merely consists of two sentences constructed in a very complex structure, form and style. This poem is an example of his unconventional use of eccentric language which demonstrates the significance and value of poetry interpretation and exploration.

Poem “I Will Be

i will be
M o ving in the Street of her

bodyfee 1 inga ro undMe the traffic of
lovely;muscles-sinke x p i r i n    g S
uddeni
Y         totouch
the curvedship of
Her-
….kiss      her:hands
will play on,mE as
dea d tunes OR s-crap p-y lea Ves flut te rin g
from Hideous trees or

Maybe Mandolins
1 oo k-
pigeons fly ingand

whee(:are,SpRiN,k,LiNg an in-stant with sunLight
then)!-
ing all go BlacK wh-eel-ing

oh
ver
mYveRylitTle

street
where
you will come,

at twi li ght
s(oon & there’s
a             m oo
)n.                                                        (Cummings)

 

  1. Lexical Categories General

Vocabulary

E E Cummings has used simple, complex and specialized Vocabulary in this poem:

Simple Vocabulary

Street body around dead moon come
me traffic touch hideous muscle little
sink kiss ship play twilight look

Complex Vocabulary

moving lovely expiring wheeing tunes scrappy sprinkling
feeling curved suddenly fluttering maybe sunlight wheeling

Specialized Vocabulary

traffic ship

Such use of vocabulary enriches the poem through intertwined simple and complex word selection. The complex morphological structure of words elevates the poetic nature of the poem, especially the use of specialized vocabulary.  All word choice of simple and complex vocabulary adds to either the theme of love or nature in the poem. But specialized vocabulary of traffic and ship is used to modify the theme of love, which is not common i.e. “the traffic of lovely muscles”, “the curved ship of her kiss”. Such special vocabulary attracts the attention of the reader towards the subject at hand.

Language

Cummings has used colloquial and descriptive language in this poem. The poem does not include short form of morphemes to suggest the informal colloquial style rather it uses extra spacing, capitalization and lower case letters to achieve the colloquialism. Unlike most of the other poets E E Cummings has written this poem as if it is spoken; the spacing and capitalization is based on the audibility and the stress of a word as spoken in the informal dialect. Such as: “ M o ving in the Street of her / bodyfee 1 inga ro undMe”, “sinke x p i r i n    g S / uddeni /  Y         totouch”, “hands / will play on,mE as / dea d tunes OR s-crap p-y lea Ves flut te rin g”, “pigeons fly ingand / whee(:are,SpRiN,k,LiNg / … mYveRylitTle / m oo )n”.

Words like M o ving, fee l ing,s uddeni y, dea d, flut te rin g etc. convey stress point of words through separating the stressed letter through spacing . Some stress points are conveyed through capitalization of letters in the middle of an ongoing word i.e. a ro undMe, onMe, SpRiNkLiNg, mYveRylitTle etc. The colloquialism is again achieved through combining words by yoking them together so as the reader may speak them as a run-on word without pause i.e. totouch, mYveRylitTle, onMe etc.

The language of the poem is very “Descriptive”. The poem is composed of only two sentences but both of them are fairly descriptive in their nature. The first sentence’s description adds to the theme of love which is expressed in the poem i.e. “Street of her / bodyfee 1 inga ro undMe the traffic of / lovely;muscles / … sinke x p i r i n    g S/ uddeni / Y         totouch / the curvedship of / Her-/ ….kiss      her:hands / will play on,mE as/  dea d tunes OR s-crap p-y lea Ves flut te rin g / from Hideous trees or/ Maybe Mandolins”. Cummings first describes the body of the beloves as a traffic of muscles and then goes on describing it further in detail as curved ship of her kiss, her hands will play on me as dead tunes… may be mandolins. The second sentence gives the description of the theme of nature i.e. “pigeons fly ingand / whee(:are,SpRiN,k,LiNg an in-stant with sunlight / then)!- /  ing all go BlacK wh-eel-ing… twilight… a moon”. Nature is described in detail in this sentence through giving the description of pigeons, sparkling, sunlight, twilight and moon. Such descriptive details of the poem set the mood of the reader and the tone of the poem, which is about love and nature.

Language Variations

The poem also employs language variations; Cummings has used the jargon of nature throughout the poem i.e. scrappy leaves fluttering, trees, pigeons, sunlight, twilight, and moon. Cummings has also used the love jargon in the poem’s first sentence i.e. body, muscles, touch and kiss. Such word choice aids the poet to achieve certain semantic field that he/she wants to create.

Semantic Field

There are two sentences in the poem and both of them create the semantic field of love, desire, nature and consummation. The first sentence builds up the desire of love through the usage of love jargon and description of it i.e. “moving in the street of her body… lovely muscles… curved ship of her kiss… her hands will play on me”. Such sexual imagery and description conveys the theme of love in the poem. This desire is further built in the second sentence also as the poem goes through its spacio-temporal movement and the time of meeting comes closer which is “twilight” i.e. “pigeons flying … my very little street where you will come… at twilight soon and there is a moon”. The “moon” is the ultimate symbol of love and consummation, the desire id achieved at the end in the form of moon. Besides love Cummings also sets up the semantic field to the theme of nature. In the second sentence the whole imagery is of natural setting. Words like trees, pigeons flying, wheeing and wheeling, twilight and moon set up semantic field of nature. The pattern of the poem also adds to the theme of the poem as Wang says about Cummings’s poetry, his poetry is “designed in an unconventional way so that it may be suggestive of a certain literary theme” (30).

Morphological / Lexical Categories Specific

Free Bound Adj. Noun Pronoun Verb Adverb  
Will Moving Curved Street I Be Around  
Be Feeling Scrappy Body Her Moving Suddenly  
In Lovely Fluttering Traffic Me Feeling Instant  
Street Muscles Wheeing Muscles My Sink Over  
Body Expiring Wheeling Ship You Expiring Where  
Around Curved Sprinkling Hands   Play At  
Traffic Hands little Leaves   Fluttering Soon  
Sink Tunes   Hideous   Flying    
Touch Scrappy   Trees   Wheeing    
ship leaves   Mandolin   Sprinkling    
Kiss Fluttering   Pigeons   Wheeling    
Play Trees   Black   Come    
As Mandolins            
Dead Pigeons            
Hideous Flying            
Look Sparkling            
Instant Sunlight            
All Wheeing            
Go              
Black              
Very              
Little              
Street              
Where              
Come              
               
               
Derivational Affixes Inflectional Affixes Prefix Suffix Preposition Article Conjuncti-on
Lovely Moving Instant Suddenly Of The As
Scrappy Feeling   Lovely To   Or
Sunlight Muscles   Scrappy On   And
  Expiring     From    
  Curved     With    
  Hands     At    
  Tunes          
  Leaves          
  Mandolins          
  Pigeons          
  Fluttering          
  Trees          
  Flying          
  Wheeing          
  Wheeling          

 

Morphology is the study of word formation. How free and bound words are build up together from smaller units to larger to form meaningful sentences. We can easily analyze through the above table the fair amount of free and bound morphemes used and connected through various conjunctions, articles, prepositions and adverbs. The large amount of nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs and especially derivational/inflectional affixes gives the poem its descriptive nature. Cummings gives a noun and then adds to its description through connecting various adjectives to it i.e. “Curved ship, Scrappy leaves, pigeons fluttering, wheeing and Wheeling, sun sprinkling, little street” etc.

The poem is written in the first person persona “I” which allows reader to connect personally to the poem. The assertion upon “I” and “you” (which is the beloved) creates the romantic tone and atmosphere of the poem adding to its semantic field.

There is a lot of movement in the poem too which can be seen through the large amount of verb usage in the poem i.e. moving, feeling, fluttering, flying, wheeing, wheeling, sparkling and come. This word choice suggests the action taking place in the poem. The poem also plays with the notion of “Time”. Cummings has used adverbs to suggest the element of “Time” in the poem i.e. around, suddenly, instant, over, where, at and soon. The usage of verbs and time gives the poem its spacio-temporal quality where the reader can see the action happening in reality.

  1. Grammatical Categories

Kinds of Sentences (Function)

In the poem Cummings has used only sentences and both of them are declarative sentences which assert and declare the nature of love and also the nature itself. The first sentence declare about the love theme and the second about the theme of nature; as first describes “street of her body… lovely muscles… to touch the curved ship of her kiss… her hands will play on me” and the second sentence asserts upon the theme of nature through “pigeons flying… sprinkling sunlight… twilight… moon”. The poem also uses an imperative sentence i.e. “1 oo k pigeons fly ing”. The word “look” suggests that it is a command to the third person and this attracts the attention of the reader. Exclamatory sentence is also used in the poem, “SpRiN,k,LiNg an in-stant with sunLight then)!-”. This exclamatory sentence expresses the strong emotion of the closeness of consummation time for the lover and the beloved.

Kinds of Sentences (Structure)

Both of the sentences of the poem comprises of complex sentences where the usage of conjunction and sentence breakage within the sentence makes it a complex sentence, which we can call a deviation.  The poem has no simple sentence structure that’s why even its reading and comprehensibility is hard. As in the first sentence the compound sentence is:

“her:hands
will play on,mE as
dea d tunes OR s-crap p-y lea Ves flut te rin g
from Hideous trees or
Maybe Mandolins”

This sentence is composed of two clauses the first clause is independent “her:hands will play on,mE as dea d tunes” which conveys the full meaning in itself, and the second clause is dependent because the simile of hands playing remains incomplete without the first clause “ s-crap p-y lea Ves flut te rin g from Hideous trees or Maybe Mandolins”. Both of these clauses are joined by the co-ordinating conjunction “OR”. In the second sentence there is a complex sentence:

“i will be

M o ving in the Street of her

bodyfee 1 inga ro undMe the traffic of

lovely;muscles-sinke x p i r i n    g S

uddeni

Y         totouch

the curvedship of

Her-

….kiss      ”

“I will be moving in the street of her body” is an independent clause and the dependent clauses are “feeling around me the traffic of lovely”, “muscles sink expiring suddenly … ”. These clauses are joined by the subordinating conjunction of semi-colon.

The Phrases

The poem is full of phrases which modify nouns and verbs adding to their details. Phrases used in the poem are given below.

Noun Phrases: Street of her body, traffic of lovely muscles, leaves fluttering from hideous trees, pigeons flying and wheeing. All these phrases modify nouns ie body, muscles, leaves and pigeons.

Prepositional Phrases: “I will be moving in the street of her body (as adverb)…Where you will come at twilight (as adverb)” (the preposition “in” and “at” is used).

Adjective Phrase:Very little street” (modifies street).

Adverb Phrase: “Pigeons … black wheeling” (modifies pigeons).

Verb Phrase:will be moving will play on me, where you will come”(verb phrases are in italics which modify the status of the verb).

Participle Phrase: I will be moving in the street(modifies “I”), curved ship of her kiss(modifies “kiss”), leaves fluttering from hideous trees(modifies “leaves”).

Absolute Phrase: “pigeons fly ingand
whee(:are,SpRiN,k,LiNg an in-stant with sunLight
then
)!-
ing all go BlacK wh-eel-ing” (the line in the parenthesis modifies the whole meaning of the sentence along with the whole visual imagery of pigeons flying).

  1. Figures of Speech

Metaphors: “Street of her body… traffic of lovely muscles… curvedship of her kiss… her hands will play on me.”

Simile: “ her:hands will play on,mE as dea d tunes”(“as” is used for simile)

Onomatopoeia: “fluttering… wheeing”

Alliteration: “muscles-sinke x p i r i n    g S uddeni” (“S”), totouch the(T), may be Mandolins(M).

E E Cummings has used highly figurative language in the poem which adds to its ornamentation and to the clarity of meanings. The reader is attracted towards the poetic quality of the poem through its figurative appeal. The poem metaphorically relates female body to street, muscles to traffic and lips to the shape of a ship. The sound-words of “fluttering” and “wheeing” and alliteration of T, S and M sounds add to the musicality of the poem which give words the sound effect. The simile “her hands will play on me as dead tunes” clarify the status of playing hands into the mind of the reader and adds to the nature of playing. Figurative language of the poem enhances its themes of love and nature.

  1. Grammatical and Lexical Speech

Climax

From the very beginning of the poem the desire of love and consummation is build in the form of sexual and natural imagery enhanced by the figurative language. The street of her body, lovely muscles, and ship of her kiss reaches its climax in the last line of the poem, “and there is a moon”. The moon is symbol of ultimate union with the beloved as in the poem “Little Frieda and Moon”. The moon can possibly represent the beloved herself and the literal moon too; in both cases the poem reaches its love climax (as moon represents the beloved) and the climax of nature (as moon is the ultimate beauty of nature).

Rhyme and Meter

The poem uses no rhyme and meter. E E Cummings is a modernist poet and hence he has a modernist approach toward poetry. In addition he has his own style of eccentric use of language which will be described in the analysis of “Deviation”.

  1. Foregrounding / Deviation

Deviation

Deviation is a type of foregrounding that describes the unexpected irregularity in the text. E E Cummings is the pioneer of experimental poetry. “Cummings poems illustrate linguistic deviations”, says Leech. He has an unprecedented unconventional treatment of poetic language which represents his way of experimenting upon poetry. His eccentric use of language gives his poems an artistic aesthetic quality which appeals the reader in a very intriguing manner. He has employed morphological, syntactical, phonological and graphological deviation in this poem which give this poem its disturbing pleasant quality, an iconic element of E E Cummings.

            Morphological Deviation

“Cummings rejected to accept the morphological patterns formed in 20th century”, says Welsh. The poem is full of deviation in morphemes. Different morphemes are yoked together to form a single morpheme. Cummings has divided a single word into two or three parts and has yoked these parts with the other parts of words i.e.

“bodyfee 1 inga ro undMe , sinke x p i r i n    g S
uddeni
Y         totouch

lea Ves flut te rin g

mYveRylitTle”

Words like feeling, around, sink, expiring, suddenly, touch, leaves and fluttering are yoked in each other which is a morphological deviation.

Syntactic Deviation

The poet has used deviation in the grammatical structure of the sentences i.e.

“the traffic of
lovely;muscles, pigeons fly ingand
whee(:are,SpRiN,k,LiNg an in-stant with sunLight
then)!-
ing all go BlacK wh-eel-ing”

In the first sentence he has used semi-colon which is grammatically wrong and so is the use of parenthesis in the middle of a bound morpheme “wheeing”. Between “whee” and “ing” he has yoked “(:are,SpRiN,k,LiNg an in-stant with sunlight then)!-” which is a deviation.

Phonological Deviation

Paul Griffiths says, Cummings has a “musical background” in his poems and his “perception of phonetic values served as a valuable starting point for constructing new patterns of context”.E E Cummings has used phonological deviation by giving the poem its phonology and stress marks through extra spacing and capitalization of letters (which suggests stress points) i.e. “M o ving in the Street of her
bodyfee 1 inga ro undMe”

“o” in “moving” and “l” in “feeling” are the stress points ,the extra spacing suggests pause and omitted spaces suggest unbroken spoken words. This pattern runs throughout the poem “    dea d tunes OR s-crap p-y lea Ves flut te rin g… SpRiN,k,LiNg… mYveRylitTle” etc.

Graphological Deviation

Richard Cureton says, Cummings poetry’s “visual forms surpass the conventional poems”. E E Cummings is known for his graphological deviation in the poems. This poem also has this element in it. If we look at the form and structure of the poem we will come to know that the poem has no form, rather it reflects deformity, and had no structure. It is composed of only two sentences and both are long sentences made through joining small sentences with comas, semi-colons and colons. There is no stanza pattern followed. There are lines which are of only one word, and also which are composed of only half a word i.e.

“oh

ver”(the word is “over”)

Poem’s graphological deviation is achieved through punctuation, ellipses, colon, semi-colon, comma, dash, capitalization, extra spacing, parenthesis, jumbling of words i.e.

“bodyfee 1 inga ro undMe the traffic of                                (yoking of words, capitalization)
lovely;muscles-sinke x p i r i n    g S                                   (semi colon, hyphen, extra spacing)
uddeni                                                                         (broken incomplete word)

Her-

….kiss                                                                                 (elipses)

whee(:are,SpRiN,k,LiNg an in-stant with sunlight                        (parenthesis, comma, capitalization)
then)!-”

Cohesion (Semantic Cohesion)

Though Cummings deviation is the most prominent element of the poem but it still the poem doesn’t loses its cohesion at any point. In the first sentence the theme of love is repeated in each clause which cohere the semantic field of the poem. Words like street, traffic and ship add in the cohesion of “street of her body” and “curvedship of her lips”; the “tunes” cohere with the “Mandolins”. The second sentence also conveys the theme of nature coherently as it uses words like pigeons, flying, sunlight sparkling, twilight and moon. This morphological choice cohese and cohere the poem semantically. In the beginning there is a “street of her body” and in the end there is “my very little street”, which also connects the first part of the poem with its last.

Conclusion

The word choice which Cummings has used in the poem resonates with the theme of love and nature. Above stylistical analysis conveys the scientific study of language usage in the poem and how it affects the reader. It also explores the ways in which language use has been synthesized in the poem aiming to enhance the understanding of the reader. “I Will Be” is a love poem which creates sense of romance and love for nature in reader through its rich vocabulary and figurative language.

Works Cited

Cummings, E E. E.E. Cummings: Complete Poems, 1904-1962. New York: Liveright Publishing Corporation, 1994. Print.

Friedman, N. E.E. Cummings:The Art of His Poetry. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins Press, 1960. Print.

Kennedy,R.S. Dreams in the Mirror: A Biography of E.E. Cummings. New York: Liverlight, 1980.Print.

Leech,G.N. A Linguistic Guide to English Poetry. London: Longman, 1969. Print.

Welsh,R. The Linguistic Paintings of E.E. Cummings, Painter-Poet. Language and Literature,9,nos.1-3,1984.Print.

Cureton, R.D. Visual form in E.E. Cummings: No Thanks. Word & Image,3,45-56,1985.Print.

Wang,S. Essentials of English Stylistics. Jinan: Shandong University Press, 2000. Print.

Kidder, R.M. E.E. Cummings:An Introduction to the Poetry. New York: Colombia University Press, 1979. Print.

Stylistic Analysis of Robert Frost’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”, Nazneen Zahra

Stylistic Analysis of Robert Frost’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”

Nazneen Zahra

Department of English Language and Literature

University of the Punjab

The study is based on the stylistics analysis of the poem “Stopping by Woods on a Snowing Evening” by Robert Frost. It aims at exploring the graphological, morphological, lexical, phonological, foregrounding and figurative structures in the poem to find out meanings and themes that the poet wants to convey. The study unfolds the expression of thoughts through different literary techniques and how these enhance the impact of the poem.

Stylistics is the study of the meanings of any text by looking at its linguistic features. This is literary analysis from a linguistics perspective and is more objective. This highlights the use of the words, their arrangement and the feelings and responses they create. This finds out the relation between meanings and interpretations and structural elements of the text.

Robert Lee Frost, an American poet, was born on 26th of March, 1874 in San Francisco, California. He is known for the realistic description of rural life and use of colloquial language. The settings in his poems are rural which he employs to observe the various philosophical and social themes. He talks about ordinary men, their actions and the use of dramatic monologues and scenes are due to his knowledge of people. He reflects on human nature, the relation between nature and man and his reaction towards natural aspects. Frost was honored as a popular poet in his lifetime and respected by critics as well. He died on 29th January, 1963 in Boston.

Whose woods these are I think I know.

His house is in the village though;

He will not see me stopping here

To watch his woods fill up with snow.

 

My little horse must think it queer

To stop without a farmhouse near

Between the woods and frozen lake

The darkest evening of the year.

 

He gives his harness bells a shake

To ask if there is some mistake.

The only other sound’s the sweep

Of easy wind and downy flake.

 

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,

But I have promises to keep,

And miles to go before I sleep,

And miles to go before I sleep.

In the poem, the speaker stops at a place near woods to watch the snow fall on an evening. He seems uncertain about the place and its owner while his horse stands confused and wants to know why his master has stopped at this lonely place. The speaker stays quite absorbed in nature and fascinated towards woods. While he is engrossed, the horse rings his bell to make him aware of his journey and responsibilities he has to fulfill. At the end, he decides to move on. The narrative is simple talking about the continuation of time and life. The mood of the poem is speculative and the speaker reflects on life, death and nature. The setting is rural and environment is peaceful. The element of doubt and ambiguity is evident; at one point he is captivated to continue his reflection on woods while on other, he knows he has to move on to fulfill his duties of life. The poet has presented a snowy night scene and highlighted the speaker’s thoughts and feelings.

The researcher has covered following levels of stylistics analysis in this study.

Graphological Category:

This lyrical poem is made up of four stanzas of four lines each. The poem contains the rhyming scheme of AABA CCDC EEFE GGGG. The rhyme of every next stanza follows the rhyme of the third line of the previous one like in second stanza the third line ends at ‘here’ giving way to the rhyme of next stanza, similarly the word ‘lake’ for ‘shake’ and ‘sweep’ for ‘deep’ respectively. This rhyming scheme creates rhythm and music in the poem. First and third stanzas contain two lines making a sentence while second and fourth make one sentence. The poet has used punctuations marks like comma, semi colon and full stop and mostly they are present at the end of the lines to give pause or end the sentence.

Foregrounding:

Deviation and parallelism are the forms of foregrounding which show irregularity in form. The poet had deviated from the normal rule of capitalization as the every first word of each line is capitalized. There are repeated words like ‘I’, ‘think’ and ‘woods’ which highlight the speculative point of the point and the speaker’s attraction towards woods. The last two lines are repeated which shows the emphasis on the poet’s responsibilities and being a reminder to break his trance; they are in repetitive structure and add musical quality. There is deviation in the structure of the first sentence as it does not follow the normal pattern of subject and verb. The poet has used apostrophe instead of ‘is’ to create a deviation in spelling.

Lexical Category

It is a personal poem with the use of simple and formal diction without any kind of slang. The language is descriptive and evaluative as it describes the scene as well as expresses the speaker’s ideas and feelings. Various parts of speech are incorporated for semantic and syntactical purposes.

Noun Pronoun Action Verb Adjective Adverb Preposition Conjunction
Woods I Think Little Here Up Though
House These Know Frozen Near In And
Village His See Darkest   With If
Horse Whose Stopping Harness   Without But
Queer He Watch Some   Between Before
Farmhouse Me Fill Easy   Of Whose
Lake My Stop Downy      
Evening It Think Lovely      
Year   Gives Dark      
Bells   Ask Deep      
Shake   Keep        
Mistake   Go        
Sound   Sleep        
Sweep            
Wind            
Flake            
Promises            
Miles            

 

The nouns used are related to nature and human to create a connection between the two as the speaker is there fascinated towards nature and speculating on it. Concrete nouns highlight physical presence and natural imagery while abstract is employed to hint about future. The verbs show speculation, movement and continuity as one is in continuous tense while others are in present indefinite and infinitive to indicate his present state and the compulsions he has. The title of the poem contains gerund ‘stopping’ in it to show the continuity of the speaker’s journey. Pronouns refer to place and persons and draw attention to two personas of the poem, the speaker and his horse. Adjectives describe nature and speaker’s perception enhancing the scene as well as the woods. The two different words like lovely and dark are incorporated to describe the two sides of woods and they present his two ways of looking at them. Adverbs and prepositions show the place while co-ordinate and sub-ordinate conjunctions combine different clauses to create coherence in the poem. The sentences are declarative and in three forms like simple, compound and complex and the length of sentences depend on the ideas they reflect. There are noun phrases, prepositional phrases and verb phrases in the poem. Noun phrases are ‘my little horse’, the darkest evening’ and ‘only other sound’. Prepositional phrases are ‘between the woods’ and ‘in the village. Verb phrases are ‘I think’, ‘I know’, ‘will not see’, ‘stopping here’, ‘fill up’, ‘must think’ and ‘I have’ while infinitive phrases are ‘to watch’, ‘to stop’, ‘to ask’, ‘to keep’ and ‘to go’.

Morphological category

The poem contains a lot number of both free and bound morphemes. Mostly used are the free morphemes while less used bound morphemes are in the form of suffixes. Suffixes are in the form of plural nouns, the different forms of verb and adverb. There are two kinds of affixes; derivational and inflectional. Woods, darkest, gives, bells, promises, miles and stopping are inflectional while frozen, sound’s, lovely and before are derivational. Allomorph sounds present in bound are of ‘s’ and ‘z’.

Free Bound Prefix Suffix Two Morphemes
Whose , See, Me Woods Mistake Woods With-out
These, Here Stooping   Stopping Farm-house
Are, To, Watch Without   Frozen  
I, Fill, Up Farmhouse   Darkest  
Think, With Frozen   Gives  
Know, Snow Darkest   Bells  
His, My, Little Gives,   Sound’s  
House, Horse Bells   Lovely  
Is, must, It, Mistake   Promises  
In, Queer, A Sound’s   Miles  
The, Stop, Near Lovely   Before  
Village, Between Promises      
Though, And, Miles      
He, Lake, Before      
Will, Evening        
Not, Of, Year        
Harness, Shake        
Ask, If, There        
Some, Only        
Other, Sweep        
Easy, Wind        
Downy, Flake        
Dark, Deep, But        
Have, Keep, Go        
Sleep        

 

Figurative category

Figurative speech has functional and artistic purposes to create meaning and beauty in the poem. Imagery is both visual and auditory like the natural scene and sound of bell respectively. The whole poem is symbolic as it is reflection on life and the symbols used are woods, snow, lake, sleep, village, bell and horse. Woods stand for complexity of life, snow, lake and sleep for coldness and death, village for civilization, bell for reminder and horse is the speaker’s other self. There are two kinds of feelings; one is of attraction and other is reminder of responsibilities. There is personification in which human qualities are attributed to the horse like think and ask. The exaggeration/hyperbole is present in “the darkest evening of the year” and “The woods fill up with snow”.  The harness bell is a metaphor for the signal that the horse gives to his master. By one person’s perspective and experience, the poet is exploring something larger and central to human condition and this is synecdoche. The word sleep is employed with denotative and connotative meanings as one meaning is to rest but other indicates death. The poet uses onomatopoeia where the sound of wind is sweep. The poem contains alliteration at different places like ‘whose woods these are’, ‘his house is in the village’ and ‘to watch his woods fill up with snow’. There are consonance sounds of s, th and w and assonance sound of o. The last line gives the idea of climax in which the poet returns to reality knowing that he has promises to fulfill and reminds himself about his journey.

Cohesion and Coherence

From the beginning till the end, the whole poem is linked and there is a constant connection between all parts of the poem. All the sentences are linked and the poem moves smoothly carrying its theme and ideas in a flow. It starts from one point and then referring to it, connects all other concepts.

Conclusion

The poet employs diverse words and techniques to convey his meanings and create a great impact on the reader. The analysis of words and devices incorporated help the reader comprehend the message and theme of the poem in a better way. Frost has made use of words in such a way that these descriptions create a visual image in front of reader and the figurative language even make it more decorative. The objective of this analysis is to investigate how the words operate in the poem and communicate the thoughts and ideas of the poet. As the literary texts are layered and there exist many interpretations, there is no final meaning in language. This stylistic analysis explores the language variations in the given poem.