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Thursday, January 9, 2014

Comments on Fussy Raucous

Fussy Raucous 

A fluffing, a puffing and a picking
Again, at each other’s nose, eyes and ears;
Eagles weaving their nests on white house stairs;
Dicing and sticking, mining and whining. 

A fluffing, a puffing and a tweeting
Loud this chorus: crocus, mucus, Potus
Spins left to right, must center, to focus
Like those dragonflies, in the air twerking... 

Why all this fluffing, puffing and striking?
Adam’s head keeps rolling upon Eve’s knees;
Sneaky, sleavy snakes on us, full of fleas;
Scratching and huffing Manu each morning. 

Why the fluffing and puffing in the feud?
Mixing and fixing, failing and paling
Canning news and muse, and brave guys dying;
Chutney and curry goat on bush they stewed. 

Fiery sound-bytes Rush from beneath the tongue
Because, abba tar shines on the white house
Caused cuscus to hide under Lincoln's blouse;
Folks Rushing and cussing all over town... 

“Fussy Raucous” deals with deep human emotions and is Gothic because the imagery in all five stanzas is dark. Since poets are not in the business of merely telling but more so in showing, use is made of words strong in visual and sensory construct, fresh and spontaneous so that the imagery painted would have maximum impact on minds of readers are important. The imagery in this poem does just that. So imagery is the poet’s use of vivid or figurative language to express objects, actions or ideas. This imagery appeals to one or more of the senses whether by auditory, tactile, thermal, olfactory, gustatory and kinesthetic sensation.

The idea that the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus has “The Errol Barrow Centre for Creative Imagination” is lauded. It provides folks with opportunities to hone skills vital in fine arts pursuits of which poetry is a component.  Imagery is the language of poetry; without imagery there is no poetry. Imagination in poetry is all about imagery and it encompasses all the sensory perceptions weaved into a poem. Imagery is designed to cause people to imagine pictures in their mind whether by literal description, allusion, simile, or metaphor.

English language poets refer to the wide range of words and their syntactic construction in the English language as “poetic devices”. The mastery of English language in its oral and written form is essential in English language poetry because poets must use fewer words more consciously than any other writer. Poets who have not mastered oral and written forms of the English language would not be able to use poetic devices with maximum effectiveness. Poetry is designed to invigorate the imaginative elements of the mind, to provide inspiring thoughts, to provide pleasure reading and to convey ideas, images and opinions within an economy of words. Executing this task is the job of poets.

A poem is made up of the following parts; speaker, audience, subject, tone, theme, diction, imagery, figures of speech, sound and rhythm. Words in poetry are called poetic devices. They are the building blocks of a poem. These blocks as it were, are arranged with four labels, arranging the words, the meaning of words, images of words and sound of words as shown below:






(46 poetic devices)

The Meaning

(23 poetic devices)

The Images

(4 poetic devices)

The Sound

(10 poetic devices)

83 Poetic Devices

Poets take parts from each block to mix the poetic cement vital in the construction of poems they have in mind. In Block 1 there are forty-six poetic devices, Block 2 has twenty-three poetic devices, in Block 3 there are four poetic devices and Block 4 has ten poetic devices. Eighty-three poetic devices are at the disposal for poets to choose from when creating poems. Poets take from each block poetic devices but not all of them at the same time because it is impossible to use all the devices from each block in one poem.  Table below has identified these various types of poetic devices by name. Check them out






The Meaning

The Images of

The Sound

Fixed Form


  Open Form

denotation euphemism, hyperbole

metaphor, metonymy, oxymoron
pathetic fallacy



Ballad, Ballade, Cinquain, Couplet poems, Decimeter poem, Elegy poem, Epic poem, Epigram, Haiku, Hendianne sonnet, Heroic couplet, Italian (Petrchan) sonnet, Limerick, Lyrical poem, Ode, Pantoun, Paradelle, Quintet poem, Quatrain poem, Rictameter poem, Rondeau, Senryu, Septet poem, Sexain poem, Tercet poem, Terza rima poem, Triolet, Villanelle. 

Abecedarian, Acrostic, American sonnet, Concrete poetry, Diastic poetry, Free Verse, Mesostich, Pattern poetry, Prose poetry, Telestich, Univocalic poetry

“Fussy Raucous” has the trappings associated with Fixed Form poetry. It is a Fixed Form poem because it adheres to the guidelines for closed type poetry. These guidelines insist on metrical verses, and rhyme scheme patterns which must be consistent throughout as well as being uniform in all stanzas. Fixed Form Compliance Charts below show how this 21st Century lyrical poem “Fussy Raucous” has met all the requirements for Fixed Form poetry.

Every poem has a topic. Every poem has a theme. However, there is a marked difference between a topic and a theme in these essential ways. The subject of a poem is the topic and is about what poets have selected to talk about and this becomes the explicit theme of the poem. This explicit theme is driven by explicit imagery in the poem and is rarely stated by poets unless of course the poem is didactic in nature. A didactic poem is intended to convey instruction and information in a "fun sort of way" while at the same time putting across a delicate or serious message. "Battle against Diabetes" is an example of a didactic poem as shown below:

Battle against Diabetes

A budding cop on the beat
His washboard gait is unique
Handsome, brave and polite is he
On matters of the heart, he is shy and discreet.

Climbing the top rank was not the feat
Utmost in his mind way back then
Being a good dad with chicks from a godly hen
Such vision realized life is really neat!

The chain he wears around his heart
Is sweet, so the doctor opined
This left him in a sorrowful frame of mind
At thirty-three, it seemed his plans had blown apart.

Having a gorgeous pair of kids four and two
He resolved to keep the family pruned
Sweet tooth capped to prevent its deadly wound
Healthy lifestyle for him would be no taboo.

The battle of the Ds he fights for his life
Booting its habits and thwarting its attack
Booze, cholesterol, processed foods he did sack
Vibrantly as ever at age sixty three he lives with wife.

The topic of any poem provides the explicit theme in the poem; therefore, there is no need to look for any hidden theme in the poem's imagery; only when looking for implicit theme in poem. In order to determine the explicit theme in a poem make sure that there is a clear understanding of what the words in the topic means if one is to extract the poem’s explicit theme. The assumption is made that you have read the poem "Fussy Raucous" so let’s look for the explicit theme in the poem using a Table 1 as shown below to record the findings; first let’s be sure one knows the meaning of the words in the topic.  The meaning of the words ‘fussy’ and 'raucous' must be clear in one's mind. The word ‘fussy’ is an adjective derived from the noun 'fuss'. Someone who is fussy is very concerned with unimportant details and is difficult to please. 'Raucous' is an adjective derived from the Latin word "raucous" meaning hoarse; harsh; rough. Assuming that you have read the poem “Fussy Raucous” would you agree that the explicit theme as shown in analysis below is adequate?

Table 1

Poetry Analysis




Poem’s Topic

Fussy Raucous

Explicit Theme

Cantankerous behavior

Now that there is a clear understanding of what the explicit theme is in the poem, the question is; What might be the implicit theme in “Fussy Raucous”? The implicit theme can be anything that comes from the probing the poem's imagery or poetic devices used in poem. Some readers may see the implicit themes, for example, as any of the following:

Political Civil War on US
Civility gone amok among political leaders
A discordant society
A censure on human interaction
An intolerant society
Terrorism, the plague of the 21st century

The fact of the matter is this; any implicit theme put forward is correct so long as poetic devices used in the poem support the claim. The implicit theme of a poem is never found in its topic. Finding the implicit theme in a poem requires that one move away from the topic of the poem by reading through the poem in search for those special poetic devices the poet has used in the poem; what is implied in the poem's imagery and what is unsaid in the poem's imagery.

That being said, you must analyse a poem to arrive at an intelligent interpretation and understand what you read.These implicit clues have been deliberately embedded in poetic devices found in “arranging the words”, “the meaning of words", “the images of words" and the "Sound of words"; one has got to search for them in the poem. Now, let’s carry out a poetry analysis on one of those implicit themes listed above for imagery corroboration using the analysis shown in Table 2. Wait a minute! What is poetry analysis? How to analyze a poem? These are explained in Table 2 as well.

Table 2         

Poetry Analysis
“Fussy Raucous”
Poetry is an instrument made of words used in construction of poems. The task assigned to this instrument is to use words in various ways to produce an effect in the readers’ mind.

Poetry analysis is a process of investigating a poem’s form, content and history in an informed way, with the purpose in mind of heightening understanding and appreciation of the poem. This calls for the analysis to go beyond the explicit theme of the poem to find the implicit theme.

Implicit Theme

“Political Civil War on US”
Emotional connections with what the poem is saying

“Fussy Raucous” brings to mind the behavior of political leaders in the Great Western Democracy across the Atlantic called the USA toward their first President of mixed-race.

Things I like about “Fussy Raucous”
Use of familiar symbols:
eagles, dragonflies, Adam and Eve, crocus, potus, white house

rhyming of words throughout the poem

the fact that words strong in visual and sensory construct are used in the poem

Things I dislike about “Fussy Raucous”
The overwhelming reliance on Gothic imagery. There is no moral compass in the poem’s imagery

Arranging the words:

In arranging the words for poem "Fussy Raucous" the poet made use of the following poetic devices (enjambment, fixed form structure for the poem, quatrain stanzas, Point of View, rhyme scheme, stanza format, metrical verses)


This poetic craft allows the poet to take an idea beyond the limitation of the end stop to reinforce an idea; to maintain the rhythmic flow of the verse that is stronger than perpetual end-stopping. The use of the enjambment in this poem the poet succeeded in pulling the reader along from one verse to the nest and established a fast rhythm or pace in the poem. Examples ar seen in Stanzas 1, 2, 4 and 5:

A fluffing, a puffing and a picking
Again, at each other’s nose, eyes and ears;

A fluffing, a puffing and a tweeting
Loud this chorus: crocus, mucus, Potus
Spins left to right, must centre, to focus
Like those dragonflies in the air; twerking...

Mixing and fixing, failing and paling
Canning news and muse, and brave guys dying;

Fiery sound-bytes Rush from beneath the tongue
Because, abba tar shines on the white house
Caused, cuscus to hide under Lincoln's blouse;

Point Of View

This poetic device is the perspective from which the poet writes the poem’s narrative, or the place from which the poet listens in and observes. Point of View in poetry provides the window through which readers look at the world painged by the poem’s imagery. It becomes the way the poets allow readers to see and hear what is going on. Poets skillfully fix readers’ attention on exactly the detail, opinion or emotion they want to emphasize by manipulating the Point of View of the poem’s narrative. This strategy is facilitated due to the fact that Point of View comes in three varieties, namely, First Person Persona, second person persona and third person persona*

In “Fussy Raucous” the poet is the protagonist who has spoken directly to the audience about what is known and observed.

Rhyme Scheme

The rhyme scheme followed in this poem is what gives it this consistent structure.

The rhyming pattern throughout the poem shows the first and fourth verses rhyming and the second and third verses rhyming. The rhyming pattern is dominated by the enclosed rhyme thus creating what is known as the abba rhyme scheme; note that the movement from one stanza to the next does not come automatically to us in this particular rhyme scheme.

A fluffing, a puffing and a picking     a
Again, at each other’s nose, eyes and ears;   b
Eagles weaving their nests on white house stairs; b
Dicing and sticking, mining and whining.  a


In “Fussy Raucous” the stanza partitions the poem into subdivisions and functions like the paragraph in prose writing. 

Stanza Form

“Fussy Raucous”  has five stanzas and each stanza consists of four verses forming quatrain stanzas as in this example taken from the first stanza of the poem shown below:

A fluffing, a puffing and a tweeting
Loud this chorus: crocus, mucus, Potus
Spins, left to right, must center, to focus
On those dragonflies in the air; twerking...


Verse in poetry refers to the arrangement in regular lines with a pattern of repeated beats found in stanzas of poems as shown in this example taken from the last stanza of  “Fussy Raucous”. This stanza has five verses.

Fiery sound-bytes Rush from beneath the tongue
Because, abba tar shines on the white house
Caused, cuscus to hide under Lincoln's blouse;
Folks Rushing and cussing all over town...

Metrical Verses

In poetry the arrangement of words in a rhythmic pattern is known as verse, when rhythmic verse is subjected to meter measurement it is known as metrical verse only in Fixed form poetry where accentual-syllabic verse is used. Accentual syllabic verse combines syllable counting and stress counting in English  poetry where the meter measures stresses and unstressed syllables in each verse to arrive at the correct metrical verse. "Fussy Raucous" uses the most common English meter, iambic pentameter, is a verse of ten syllables or five iambic feet. Each iambic foot is composed of an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable as shown in the example below:

Notice that unstressed syllables are marked by breve ( ˬ ) and the stressed syllables are marked by ictus ( / )

Table 3

Poetry Analysis
“Fussy Raucous”

The Meaning of Words

In poetry, “The Meaning of Words” has to do with how poets within the field of cognition and linguistics use this rhetorical strategy in their poems; ever mindful that words do have the capacity to conjure up multifaceted meanings in the mind of the reader. This is precisely the outcome that poets strive for when creating the poem’s imagery. The poem “Fussy Raucous” has ample examples where this type of rhetorical strategy is applied.

However, it is necessary to explicate or analyze the poem for words that convey multiple layers of meaning. Reading the poem silently is never a good strategy when searching of implicit meaning of words used in any poem. It is better to read the poem aloud several times to get the hidden layers of meaning contained in words of the poems.


Explicating “Fussy Raucous” revealed the appearances of the rhetorical strategy of extending a metaphor throughout the entire poem thus giving rise to the poem being viewed as a modern “allegory”. The rhetorical strategy of extending a metaphor through an entire poem so that objects, persons and actions in the imagery are equated with meanings that lie outside the poem becomes allegorical. In other words, an allegory is a story in which the characters and events are symbols that stand for ideas about human life or for a political or historical situation. Hence, the allegory is an extended metaphor. A metaphor is the comparison of two unlike things. The purpose of the metaphor is to use the qualities of one element to illustrate the qualities in the other.


The poem also makes reference to Biblical characters (Adam and Eve) in verse 2 of stanza 3 “Adam’s head keeps rolling upon Eve’s knees;” where the allusion points to Adam and Eve being removed from the Garden of Eden (Fall of Mankind). This action also suggests that actions from bad decisions due to cantankerous behavior always lead to disastrous outcomes. Yes, this poem brings to the fore. Another allusion appears in the poem “... fleas scratching and huffing Manu each morning”. “Manu” is a story about big fish and creatures preying on small fish. Small fish pleaded for help from the wise old man called Manu to stop the carnage and if he is successful he would become the greatest man on earth. This story alludes that riches are amassed from the backs of the middle-class and poor people by many a hidden, cleaver and dubious ways; therefore it essential that the laws of the land have strong teeth to rein in the greedy behavior of the richest sectors of society. An allusion is a brief and indirect reference to a person, place, thing or idea of historical, cultural, literary or political significance, It is just a passing reference and readers are expected to possess enough knowledge to spot the allusion and grasp it importance in the poem. 

Table 4

Poetry Analysis
“Fussy Raucous”


The implicit meaning or theme “Political Civil War on US” is extracted from the array of images being painted throughout the poem. This implicit meaning is being propelled by metaphors found in the poem which create the many ambiguities in verses of the poem. These ambiguities fuel the many speculative results from the additional questions they raise in the mind of the of readers. This is the purpose work of the poet on how to speak to readers’ subconscious mind. So where the mind goes, the poem will follow the mind. So here! The poet has created a literary device known as “ambiguity” stemming from the many images that surface in the mind of the reader. An example of manipulation is seen in the first stanza of the poem and reading through the poem one is mindful of this ambiguity being extended throughout the remaining stanzas of the poem. The ambiguity as a literary device in this poem is designed to allow readers to understand the poet’s intentions in a variety of ways giving them depth and complexity for example; take this verse from the first stanza of the poem “Eagles weaving their nest on white house stairs” is ambiguous, but the reader is welcomed to presume from the content that there is conflict of some sort going on among occupants in this white house.

Ambiguity is a literary device where words, phrases or sentences have two or more meanings. Poets often use ambiguity to achieve special effects, for example, to reflect the complexity of an issue or to indicate the difficulty with perhaps the notion of arriving at the truth.  


A simile is an expressed analogy; a metaphor is an implied analogy. An analogy is a simile or metaphor which compares two things to emphasize something unusual. This literary device is found in the poem as expressed stanza 2 of “Fussy Raucous” shown below:

A fluffing, a puffing and a tweeting
Loud this chorus: crocus, mucus, Potus
Spins left to right, and center, to focus
Like those dragonflies, in the air; twerking...

The analogy is seen in the comparison of Potus to dragonflies and the metaphor is used to relate Potus’s activity of spinning to the left to right and center to focus to that of twerking.


In “Fussy Raucous” the speaker is very much attached to the audience (the readers of the poem) by opting not to use the literary devise known as the apostrophe.  Never confuse the apostrophe which is a figure of speech and the apostrophe which is a punctuation mark (‘) indicating possessive case, or omission of one or more letters of a word as shown in the excerpts of the poems:

What is that glow in Cupid’s eyes?
With Lydgate’s passion notes, the path it charts.
The day has come, and I’m out of control;

There is no evidence to suggest that in “Fussy Raucous” the speaker is addressing a non-existent person or an abstract idea in such a way as if it were present and capable of understanding feelings. If this were the case in the poem some sort of exclamation like “Oh” or some other indication that the speaker (poet) in the poem breaks off  the thread of reasoning and addresses an absent person or thing as if present as shown in example taken from “MermaidTavern” by Keats:

Souls of  Poets dead and gone,
What Elysium have ye known;
Happy fields or mossy cavern,
Choicer than the Mermaid Tavern

or this excerpt from poem “Climbing Rose

Oh Rose! You cling and climb with flair;
As seedling, grown in early prime

or as seen in stanzas 6, and 8 taken from “Ode to a Swing Bridge Bulldozed”:

Oh Chamberlain, you deserve to rest now
And view all sorts of cargo passing by
In this temporal groove, the Careenage
Of still waters ‘neath arched extremities
With trade from Caricom communities;
As pleasure crafts sail with the cool sea breeze
For you give them shelter from angry seas.

Oh Bridge of fragile frame you have reached now
One hundred and thirty-three years this fall;
With Indians’ feathered quills they wrote ‘bout
The blood, the sweat and tears of by-gone slaves;
Your blows from hurricanes and killer waves;
Yet, your timbered heart did find common ground
With Wolferstone, and Chamberlain, profound.

An apostrophe in poetry is an arrangement of words addressing a non-existent person or an abstract idea in such a way as if it were present and capable of understanding feelings.

Table 5

Poetry Analysis
“Fussy Raucous”


Not a cliché is found in “Fussy Raucous”. Could it be that original thought has put the cliché out to pasture? This is commendable because the cliché has suffered from overuse, and has burned itself out. However, for comic effect in works of fiction, the cliché is used. The use of the cliché in poems is often viewed as a lack of originality on the part of the poet. However, this assertion may be overreaching since from time to time poets have incorporated the cliché in their creations. For example in the poem, “Tuakau Honey Jar First to Ever Rest”  the cliché is found in stanzas 10, 13 and 35 as shown below:

Britain rode high the waves but not for long
The bull in her china shop, stopped to view
Constant battle raged to correct the wrong
She bit off more than she could ever chew.     cliché

War was in every place around the globe
England fought tooth and nail to keep her flag      cliché
Sweet Edward discarded his royal robe
Loved the game that bore a Hollywood tag!

Next day, Ed took off for the long journey
Full of courage, resolve and nerves of steel   cliché
On his back, a jar of Tuakau honey
The fear of the unknown, he did conceal.

The cliché is defined as a vivid depiction of an abstraction that relies upon analogy or exaggeration for effect, often drawn from everyday expression.


Connotation uses words to invoke some idea or feeling in the mind in addition to their primary meaning. Here are examples taken from “Fussy Raucous” :

“white house” brought to mind the place where Presidents of the USA reside during tenure
“crocus” brought to mind clothing worn by poor folks when technology was in its infancy
“potus” brought to mind the notion of  such terms as; politics of the United States; President of the United States
“Adam and Eve” brought to mind the story about the Garden of Eden
“failing and paling” brought to mind  Sarah Palin failure to become Vice President of USA;
 “bush they stewed” brought to mind the political bad-mouthing of the 43rd President of the USA;
 “sound-bytes Rush from beneath the tongue” brought to mind the Talk Show Host Rush Limbaugh and this thought was strengthened by the use of the capital letter in the word rush;
Lincoln’s” brought to mind Abe Lincoln the President who pushed for racial equality in America.

Table 6

Poetry Analysis
“Fussy Raucous”


In poetry contrast is a device used when the poet describes the differences between two or more entities. Contrast is the antonym of simile. In “Fussy Raucous” the poet has not used this literary device for any number of reasons one would suppose. Remember folks, poets don’t use all the devices available; they always make a selection using only those that are appropriate for the imagery enhancement. Here are examples taken from poems where contrast is used:


I see many plants on pastures, gardens;
Silvery ferns among the growing trees
With gorgeous blooms, and sadly nuclear plants.

Behold! Those climbing plants on trellis walls;
Others carpet the ground, others would stand
On giant feet with aging beauty pine.

Some plants do germinate from seeds and cuts,
From hybrid species; glitzy blooms they come,
To stretch botany rules to newer heights.


On the coast I see vulcanized rocks
Amid marram dunes
So unlike the coral stones
Of Port St. Charles

The granular dust
Between my toes
Is gray in every way
And not at all like the white sands
Found on the Bajan bay
Yet this Kiwi scenery
Is awesome and I want to stay

Ode to the Buckeye Tree

Since February I have left behind
The tropical shine to come to this place
Where winter resting brings much peace of mind
Just to feel the Arctic wind on my face
In Cleveland Heights and beyond Forest Hills
I see seasons change with bounteous thrills.

Pompous Trees Speak Out

We are trees of various kinds
Growing beside the garden wall
But shrubs and moss carpet the ground
Just waiting for our leaves to fall

Table 7

Poetry Analysis
“Fussy Raucous”


Denotation is the dictionary meaning of a word. It portrays the exact meaning of a word, without the feelings or suggestions that the word may imply. It is the opposite of connotation. Plenty examples are to be found in "Fussy Raucous" starting with the poem's title and so on.






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