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Monday, May 27, 2013

Comments on Blissful Countryside

Blissful Countryside

Hate the restriction on living on folks in suburbia;
Lately she suffers from noise, and from hyperthermia;
Longing to swing in the trees and to feed animals and birds;
Whispering wind on eaves in her ears and the barking curs;
Smell the aroma of boiling sugar in atmosphere;
Hearing the galloping sound of a buggy in tow by mare;
Rural abode and so blissfully healthy for good life;
Loving the land and its sacred endowments with good wife;
Marvel at smiling sky kissing the fertile and sweet land;
Ponders annoying dilemma; concrete jungles withstand.

High on your feet, will you! Hear ye the planet, it cries out;
Littering bugs they disrupt in and out; so insane! Shout;
Speak will you, killers of earth, polluters, shameful, with hard-ears;
Polluting, burning and wasting of crops with ashes’ tears.
Now we behold the miracle of creation close-up;
Slaving away on the plantation days of yore pile-up;
Free to reminisce on porch and to savor the view;
Swinging with the trade winds in a hammock of sky blue;
Pastures again, the hillsides, and the fields very green;
Here ye this! Food for masses to live fat or lean...

“Blissful Countryside” has two stanzas and each stanza has ten verses. A poem with ten verses in each stanza is called a decastich. The poem also has rhyming couplets. A rhyming couplet is when two verses rhyme with each other and this poem is made up of couplets where each pair of verses rhyme with each other and they have the same meter. Also, it falls into the category of lyric poetry in the genre of an Idyll. What is lyric poetry? Lyric poetry presents the deep feelings and emotions of the poet as opposed to poetry that tells a story or presents a witty observation. Sonnets, odes, and elegies are examples of lyric poetry. Lyric poetry has a pleasing musical quality and often can be set to music. Examples of lyric poets of by-gone eras are William Wordsworth, John Keats, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and William Blake. What is an Idyll poem? An Idyll is defined as a pastoral poem relating to the countryside or to the rural way of life. It stresses the picturesque nature of rural living. The theme throughout the poem “Blissful Countryside” suggests a yearning for country living instead of the suburban or city living. The imagery in this short idyllic poem gives out a nostalgic feeling; there is also this impression in the poem that the environment is badly mistreated, and is seen as an affront to the Creator of earth. God in all his goodness and love for mankind gave this gift called earth to mankind to take good care of it and to enjoy its wonderful multifarious fruits it offers.

John Milton wrote a long lyric narrative poem in idyllic form called “L’ Allegro” (meaning “The Happy Man”) with one hundred and fifty-two verses in 1633, forty-one years before his death. Exhibit 1 shows verses one to twenty-four where it reflects on the pleasures of a beautiful spring day in two venues, the countryside and in the urban setting.

Exhibit 1
A Poem by John Milton (1608-1674)

Hence, loathed Melancholy,
Of Cerberus and blackest Midnight born,
In Stygian cave forlorn,
'Mongst horrid shapes, and shrieks, and sights unholy!
Find out some uncouth cell,
Where brooding Darkness sprends his jealous wings,
And the night-raven sings;
There under ebon shades, and low-brow'd rocks,
As ragged as thy locks,
In dark Cimmerian desert ever dwell.
But come, thou goddess fair and free,
In Heaven yclep'd Euphrosyne,

And by Men, heart-easing Mirth;
Whom lovely Venus, at a birth,
With two sister Graces more,
To ivy-crowned Bacchus bore:
Or whether (as some sager sing)
The frolick wind, that breathes the spring,
Zephyr, with Aurora playing,
As he met her once a-Maying;
There on beds of violets blue,
And fresh-blown roses wash'd in dew,
Fill'd her with thee a daughter fair,
So buxom, blithe, and debonair.

“Blissful Countryside” reflects the dactylic pentameter decastich with rhyming couples. The pentameter has five feet and is associated with qualitative meter or accentual-syllabic verse in English Language poetry. In accentual-syllabic verse every syllable counts in creating the proper rhythm and flow of the meter. Dactylic as a qualifier of the noun “dactyl” is a falling meter with a trisyllabic foot meaning that the foot is made up of three syllables; the first syllable is stressed and the two remaining syllables are unstressed. These stressed and unstressed syllables are identified by diacritical marks such as the ictus (⁄) for stressed syllable and the breve ( ˬ ) for unstressed syllable in the combination of one ictus and two breve ( ⁄ ˬ ˬ ). The words “poetry” and “dactylic” are useful mnemonics for remembering this stressed-unstressed-unstressed pattern in the dactyl foot. The foot is the unit of such measurement hence the measuring instrument is known as the metric foot. Meter means measurement.

What is a dactylic pentameter? Let’s revise some terms to help explain this one. Meter refers to the pattern of syllables in a verse of poetry. The most basic unit of measure in a poem is the syllable and the pattern of syllables in a verse, from stressed to unstressed and vice versa. Two syllables together (Hate the), three-syllable construction (re stric tion) or four-syllable construction (ce le bra tion), each of these examples measures one foot. These various foot types and their diacritical marks are shown in Exhibit 2 as follows:

Exhibit 2


Disyllable Foot Types

Diacritical Marks

Foot Types

Diacritical Marks

Tetrasyllable Foot Types

Diacritical Marks
ˬ  ⁄
ˬ  ⁄ ˬ

ˬ  ⁄ ⁄ ˬ
⁄ ⁄

ˬ ˬ  ⁄
⁄ ˬ ˬ  ⁄
⁄ ˬ

⁄ ⁄ ˬ
ˬ  ⁄ˬ  ⁄
ˬ ˬ

ˬ  ⁄ ⁄
⁄ ⁄ ⁄ ⁄


⁄ ˬ ⁄

⁄ ˬ  ⁄ ˬ


⁄ ˬ ˬ

⁄ ⁄ ⁄ ˬ


⁄ ⁄ ⁄

ˬ  ⁄ ⁄ ⁄


ˬ ˬ ˬ
Second Epitrite

⁄ˬ  ⁄ ⁄

Third Epitrite

⁄ ⁄ ˬ  ⁄

Fourth Epitrite

⁄ ⁄ ⁄ ˬ

Greater Ionic

⁄ ⁄ ˬ ˬ

Lesser Ionic

ˬ ˬ ⁄ ⁄


ˬ ˬ ˬ ˬ


⁄ ˬ ˬ ˬ

The dactylic pentameter is a line of verse measuring five feet. The metrical foot of a poem is determined by the poem’s predominant meter. Metered poems will be quite regular, but in order to provide special emphasis in some places or to avoid monotonous rhythm of the “DUM da da DUM da da DUM da da DUM da da DUM da da” , poets often use substitutions in some of the poems verses as are evident in “Blissful Countryside”. These substitutes are taken from disyllable foot types (iamb, spondee, and trochee, pyrrhic) and from trisyllable foot types (amphibrach, anapest, antibacchius, baccius, cretic, molossus and tribrach).  In dactylic pentameter verses the spondee, trochee, cretic and anapest are often seen as substitutes. It is okay to have variations in the rhythmic flow of verses. However, when writing a metered poem the poet gets to choose the meter but is obligated to maintain the selected meter throughout the poem; it’s only the foot type that may be substituted; unless of course, the variation is set up regularly and clearly as part of the poem’s metrical pattern. When constructing the dactylic pentameter verse it is important to maintain the integrity of the verse by ensuring that the first foot is a dactyl and that no other substitute supersedes the dactyl. The foot in the third and fourth position in the verse is more likely to change. The last foot in dactylic pentameter verse tends to fall on a spondee.

In order to verify that the verses in “Blissful Countryside” are indeed dactylic pentameter verses it was essential to produce a diagrammatic representation of this poem by way of scansion. The scansion unlocks those techniques used in creating the rhythmic effects in the poem; it helps readers grasp layers of meaning in the poem, and to indicate how to read the poem aloud. The results of the scansion of the metrical effect of the poem are shown in Exhibits 3 and 4.

Exhibit 3

Exhibit 4

Monday, May 6, 2013

Comments on All for the Middle Class Now

This poem, “All for the Middle Class Now” has a rhyme scheme aabb ccdd eeff gghh iijj kkll. This rhyme shows that the poem has six stanzas made up of quatrains. Four verses make a quatrain. All six quatrains in this poem have end-rhymes. Quatrains are very popular in English language poetry and they are easy to memorize. The verses in this poem measures three feet that is why, the verses are called trimeter verses.

What is rhyme? Rhyme is a repetition of similar sounds in two or more words and is often used in poetry and songs. Rhyme can also be a poetic genre such as “Rhyming Couplet” and “Nursery Rhymes”. In poetry, internal rhyme or middle rhyme is rhyme that occurs in a single verse, in any of the following situations with examples underlined:

  i)        Involving words in the middle of a verse; for example:
            Walks pet dog, leash in hand
                In winter wonderland
 ii)        Involving words in the middle of a verse with words at the end of the verse; for example:

            Breeze blows; fantasy grows;
                Body in sub zeroes;                   

iii)        Involving words in middle of verse with words in middle of next verse; for  example:

            Skins, no more sun baking;
               New home in Four Season;
               Mauby-cans pour bourbon.
In English Language poetry, the foot is limited to the following six foot types named in Table 1.

Table 1

The scansion of stanza 1 of poem “All for the Middle Class Now” shows various foot types. See examples below:

The iamb is the constituent foot type in this verse; hence this verse is called an iambic trimeter. A foot in this verse is missing. When part of a foot is missing in this way, the verse becomes catalectic. This verse is metrically incomplete because one or two of the ending unstressed syllables is omitted. One may tend to consider the catalysis as a half-foot, but in poetic meter a half-foot is not recognized.

Verse 2 has no iambic foot in it, yet the verse is described as an iambic trimeter verse. This is so because the iamb is the constituent foot shaping English Language poetry. Bear in mind that these are only examples taken from the entire poem. A full scansion of the entire poem would show that the iambic foot dominates. This verse also shows that at the end a foot is missing so the right way to describe this missing foot is that it is catalectic; a half foot is not recognized in metered poetry.

Verse 3 is called an iambic trimeter verse. No foot is missing in this verse. The meter in this verse is precise.

 The iamb is the constituent foot type in Verse 4; hence this verse is called an iambic trimeter verse. The incomplete foot at the end of this verse is catalectic and adds no new measurement to the verse. The verse can only be described as an iambic trimeter verse.

In English language poetry, most poems are written in Qualitative Meter, which relies on a pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables. The iamb is the most common metrical foot in English language poetry. It is called a rising meter because its sound rises from unstressed to stress.

The anapest (ˬ ˬ ̷) is a trisyllabic metrical foot made up of three syllables (unstressed, unstressed, stress). The British spelling is anapaest. It is also known as the antidactylus because the dactyl (̷ ˬ ˬ) has this symbolic pattern in reversed order. Examples as shown below of the anapestic foot are taken from “All for the Middle Class Now”.

The anapest and the dactyl are bouncing meters. In the twentieth century they were very popular in comic verses than for serious poetry. The dactyl and trochee (̷ ˬ) are called falling meters. Their movement falls from a stress to unstressed.

The spondee (̷ ̷) still measures a foot even thought it has one sound that is stressed. The pyrrhic (ˬ ˬ) with one sound that is unstressed still measures one foot. The spondee and pyrrhic are never used as the sole meter of a poem. Wherever the spondee and the pyrrhic are found in the verse, they provide the complementary role of lending emphasis and variety to a meter especially the iambic rhythmic verses of English Language poetry.

Reading the title of the poem, “middle class” brings to the mind the various layers in contemporary society and how such layers (lower income, upper income and super rich) are identified through the earning power prism. To paraphrase this poem the mind extracts from its content the implied theme; for example, it could be, “The Struggles of the Middle Class” others might paraphrase it differently such as; for example, “The Cycle of Life” or any other for that matter. In poetry any implied theme is correct, so long as the analysis is backed up from the content found in the poem’s verses or lines.

“All for the Middle Class Now” has words and phrases which bring into focus an array of phonetic symbolism and sensory images.

Poets incorporate in their poetry, words sounds that tag other words to achieve sounds appropriate to their significance. In the poem, “All for the Middle Class Now” the first stanza, verse 1 says:

Sun glistens through the glazed glass:

Notice the words underlined (glistens, glazed, glass). These words suggest light. These words have the same sound and associated meaning and are examples of phonetic symbolism. Most words with the first consonants gl bring to the mind the notion of light.

Sensory images allow readers to imagine events through the use of the senses. All able people see, smell, hear, touch, taste, have movement or tension, internal sensation, fear, fatigue, thirst and hunger. Sensory images are classified as follows:

Auditory         -           representation of sound
Gustatory        -           representation of taste
Kinesthetic      -           movement, physical tension
Olfactory         -           representation of smell
Organic           -           internal sensation, hunger, thirst, fatigue, nausea
Tactile             -           touch, hardness, softness, wetness, heat and cold
Visual              -           representation of sight

Embedded are these sensory images in the poem “All for the Middle Class Now” as shown in Table 2. Sensory images heighten sensory perceptions into a poem through language, making the words palpable.

Table 2

All for the Middle Class Now

Sensory Images







Sun glistens through the glazed glass;
Autumn blooms in November
From the dimness of the sun
Find new home in four seasons;

Visual imagery



Leaves golden brown strike ember...
Breeze blows so fantasy grows;

Auditory imagery



Trees with skeletal remains,
Fresh newcomer from tropics;

Olfactory imagery



Standing outside window panes
Fondly, playing in the snow...
Elderly health in limbo,
Now they cuddle and they run
Uprooting and adapting;
Find new home in four seasons;
Mauby-can disses for bourbon
Walks the pet dog hand in hand

Kinesthetic imagery



Skins no more in sun baking
Now, in winter wonderland

Organic imagery



Mauby-can disses for bourbon

Gustatory imagery



Skins no more in sun baking
In frosty winter’s frolics;
Walks the pet dog hand in hand
Now, in winter wonderland.

Tactile imagery

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Natural disasters whenever and wherever they occur impact on all of our lives. The Good Book says we are our brothers and sisters keepers lead by the Holy Spirit. Hence, we must do our part when disaster shows its ugly face. Any assistance, great or small, given from generous and loving hearts has equal weight. I'm passing on this information I received that Barbadians can go to First Caribbean Bank to donate to the Disaster Relief Fund for Haiti. The banking information is shown below:

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