Language in Diversity

TALKING about POEM…!!!


  1. Definition of Poem

Poem is words which are arranged to be fascinating sentences in written language with used figurative language and imageries to made more beautiful to read or listen. A poem maybe enjoyed on first sight, for its brilliant imagery, perhaps, of its satisfying sound relationships, the appeal of wit of an intellectual concept pointed with subtlety or for all these together, flashing upon the mind with a shock of delight.[1] There are so many definitions of the poem, Perrine says: Poem might be defined as kind of language that says more and says it more intensely than does ordinary language.[2] He considered the poem as a kind of language which is different from every day language.

There are three major kinds of poem; Narrative, Dramatic, and Lyric

1. Narrative: a narrative poem tells a story, whether it is simple or complex of the many kinds of narrative poems the most important are ballads, epic, and metrical romances. A ballad, meant to be sung or recited, presents a single exciting episode in a simple narrative. An epic is a long narrative poem, in an elevated style that recounts the adventures of figure of heroic proportions. A metrical romances is a long romantic tale in verse, in which the chief figures are king, knights, or distressed maidens, acting under the impulse of love, religious faith, or a search for adventure.

2. Dramatic: poetry that employs dramatic form or some elements of dramatic technique as a means of achieving poetic ends is called dramatic poetry.

3. Lyric: originally intended to be sung to the accompaniment of a lyre-hence, the name – a lyric poem is a brief, subjective statement, marked by strong imagination, melody, and feeling, and designed to create in the readers a single, unified, and intense impression.”[3]

  1. The Intrinsic Element of the Poem

Analysis of literary work can be divided into two ways; the first analysis is interinsic and the second is extrinsic. The analysis of intrinsic elements only focus in analyzing the text or inside of the story. And one of the intrinsic elements of poem is figurative language; its purpose is to create a poetic element. It makes a poem more interesting, causes freshness, live, and makes clarity of the image[4]. Figure of speech is any away of saying something other than the ordinary way or it can be defined as a way of saying one thing and mean another.[5] Figures of speech can be defined too as poetic devices in which two images or objects are compared to make language interesting and meaningful. The poet uses common expressions in original and creative ways to compare objects and makes the poem more interesting and meaningful.

Most poets use the intrinsic elements in his work, and Robert Frost in his two poems (Acquainted with the night and Desert places) presented the intrinsic elements such as figure of speech and imagery in such way to make them interesting. Figure of speech and imagery dominated in his poems.

1.      Figure of Speech

Figure of speech is a tool that an author employs or uses to help the reader visualize or see what is happening in the story or a poem. Usually, the author describes something through the use of unusual comparisons for effect, interest, and to make the clearer. Whenever he describes something by comparing it with something else, he is using figure of speech. It is any language that goes beyond the literal meaning of words in order to furnish new effects or fresh insights into an idea or a subject. The most common figure of speech is simile, metaphor, personification, etc.

a.      Simile

According to Wren and Martin, simile is a comparison made between two objects of different kinds which they have, however at least on point in common. Generally, a simile refers to only one characteristic that two things have in common, while a metaphor is not faintly limited in the number of resembles it way indicate.[6] Usually, the simile is signified by the words like: like, as, so, appear, seem, more than. Simile is seem at a poem A Red, Red Rose by Robert Burns.

            O my love, is like a red, red rose,

            That’s newly sprung in June

                        O my love is like the melodies

                        That’s sweetly played in tune

On this poem, Robert Burn use the word like to represent his love that is like a red, red rose and melodies that is sweetly played in tune.

b.      Metaphor

According to Barnet, metaphor asserts the identity, without a connective such as “like” or a verb such as “appear” of a term that are literary incompatible.[7] According to Perrine, metaphor is a figure of speech in which a comparison is made between two things essentially unlike. In the other case croft defines that metaphor describes the subject being the thing to which it is compared. In the piece of Robert Herrick’s poem bellow, he uses metaphor to express his feeling to his sweetheart.

            You are tulip seem today,

            But dearest, of so short a stay

            There were you grew scarce man can say.

In the first line of this poem, Herrick images his sweetheart with a beautiful and charming tulip, but unfortunately, the tulips does not have time to stay along, which is proposed described through the line…so short a stay.

c.       Personification

Personification is a type of metaphor that gives living qualities to inanimate objects or abstract ideas; or human qualities (feelings, thoughts) to animals. It gives non-living things and animals the ability to think, feel emotions, or have human relationships.[8]

Personification consists in giving the attribute of a human being to animal, an object, or a concept. It is really subtype of metaphor, an implied comparison in which the figurative term of the comparison is always a human being.[9]

               Example:    “The Wind” (James Stephens)

                   The wind stood up, and gave a shout

               The wind stood up, and gave a shout;
He whistled on his fingers, and

               Kicked the withered leaves about,
And thumped the branches with his hand,

               And said he’d kill, and kill, and kill;
And so he will!  And so he will!

Stephens’ poem personifies the wind as a cruel and abusive man.  Though he never says directly that the wind is a man, it is apparent through his word choice, and the actions that he attributes to the wind (standing, shouting, whistling, speaking, etc).

d.          Symbolism

Symbol is something that stands for something else.[10]It communicates something else by triggering, stimulating, or arousing previously associated ideas in the mind preceding the symbol. Usually the author uses an object or idea to suggest more than its literal meaning, a person, place, or event stands for something other than it is, usually something broader or deeper than it is. The author intentionally uses symbolism in his/her writing. He selects specific objects, places or things to function as symbols in his/her work in order to expand and deepen the meaning of the piece.

Example:          “The Sick Rose” (William Blake)

O rose, thou art sick!
The invisible worm
That flies in the night,
In the howling storm,

                 Has found out thy bed
Of crimson joy,
And his dark secret love
Does thy life destroy.

Blake uses the rose as a symbol for all that is beautiful, natural and desirable. He uses the worm to symbolize the evil that destroys natural beauty and love. The poem is more than a description of an infested flower bed. Because of the symbolism, it suggests that all that is beautiful, natural, and good in the world is being secretly destroyed by something we cannot see. The worm “flies in the night,” and then hides beneath the dirt of the flower bed. This means that we cannot see the evil that attacks the purity in the world, nor do we understand its reasoning.

e.       Metonymy

Metonymy is figure of speech consisting of the use of the name of one thing for that of another of which it is an attribute or with it is associated.[11] Metonymy is used to give information and introduce things conveyed in common word, due to its familiar name that has been concept to public mind. For example, most of people prefer to call ‘coca cola’ than to call ‘soda water’ due to its familiar label.

Metonymy is basic element of the overall, its call pars pro toto. For example: Tentara Nasional Indonesia (TNI) familiar with (green t-shirt).

f.       Overstatement (hyperbole)

Hyperbole is an exaggeration to effect an emotional response. Wren Martin says that in hyperbole a statement is made emphatic by over statement.[12] It is an exaggerated to be or extravagant statement used to make a strong impression, but not indeed to be taken literally.


                        It’ll take a million years to fix the problem

                        I’ll die if I don’t pass the exam

                        Crestes the world, his voice was propertied.

The speaker using statement it’ll take million years to fix the problem is very exaggerated, because age of human being does not until million years. I’ll die if I don’t pass the exam, this statement also exaggerated. it’s impossible if he does not pass the exam, he would be die.

g.      Understatement (litotes)

Understatement, or saying less than one means, may exist in what one says or merely in how one says it[13]. It means saying something with an overly light tone; the speaker’s words convey less emotion than he actually feels.

Example:    One says upon sitting down to a loaded dinner plate

                                “This looks like a nice snack”

The speaker is actually stating less than the truth. A plate in which loaded by food for dinner is not merely snack but a main course of meal.

h.      Paradox

         Paradox is a statement that is true in some sense, even though at first it appears self-contradictory and absurd.[14] Paradox used in poetry for a least three reasons. First, it invariably startles the reader: Second, paradox involves the reader in an effort at understanding. Finally, it that effort I successful it delights the reader with a personal sense of discovery.

                        Fire and Ice

            Some say the world will end in fire

            Some say in ice

            From what I’ve tested of desire

            I hold with those who favour fire

            But if it had too perish twice

            I think I know enough of hate

            To say that for destruction ice

            If also great

            And would suffice

         It seems self-contradictory statement, but actually it is true. Frost supposes that the world might perish twice; he means that the first destruction ends in fire and the second one is ending in ice. It relates to the symbols used by Frost. That fire is symbol of the desire and ice is symbol of the hate.

i.        Apostrophe

         Closely related to personification is apostrophe, which consists in addressing someone absent or dead or something nonhuman as if that person or thing were present and alive and could reply to what is being said.

                                    Go, lovely rose!

Go, lovely rose!

Tell her that wastes her time and me

That now she knows,

When I resemble her thee,

How sweet and fair she seems to be,

                                                      (Edmund Walter)

         The speaker said “Go, lovely rose!” the speaker consider that the rose is live. He command rose to go. The speaker describes the rose able to understand what speaker said.

2.      Imagery

Imagery may be defined as the representation through language of sense experience.[15] Poetry appeals directly to our sense, of course, through its music and rhythm, which we actually hear when it is read aloud. But indirectly it appeals to our sense through imagery, the representation to the imagination of sense experience.

            Imagery involves one or more of the five senses of human such as hearing, taste, touch, smell, and sight. Author uses a word or phrase to stimulate the reader’s memory of these senses. Each of types of imagery has a specific name:

a.        Visual Imagery

         It represents something seen in the mind’s eye. Or it can be explained as something stimulated in the sense of sight.[16]

                  Example:         Meeting at Night (Robert Browning)

                                           The grey see and the long black land

                                           And the yellow half moon large and low

             And the startled little waves that leap

             In fiery ringlets from their sleep

         Every line in this poem contain some image, some appeal to the sense of sight: the grey see, the long black land, the yellow half moon. Those are all represent the image of sight since the text represents something in mind’s eye of the readers.

b.        Auditory Imagery

         Auditory imagery is the image in which represents the sound in the text. It stimulates the sense of hearing.[17]


Hear the Sledges with the bells

Silver bells!

What a world of merriment their melody foretells!

How they tinkle, tinkle, tinkle,

                                 In the ice of night     (Edgar Allan Poe)

         The stanza represents about a sound of the bells clink in the cold night when the cart was crossing the road. It calls as auditory imagery because the word ‘tinkle’ shows the sound from the bells.

c.         Olfactory Imagery

         Olfactory imagery is the image in which represents the smell in the text. [18]

Example:        Late Aubade (Richard Wilbur)

    And some blue cheese, and crackers, and some fine

    Ruddy-skinned pears

         When the author writes some blue cheese, and crackers, those are coming    to the sense of smell. Cheese is smelled in the imagination of the reader.

 d.        Gustatory Imagery

         It is the imagery in which represent the taste in the text. [19]

Example:        Late Aubade (Richard Wilbur)

                                          Wait for a while, then sleep downstair

                                          And bring us up some chilled white wine

         The text vividly represents the taste. It comes to the reader sense of taste. The text tells about the taste of white wine. It tasted chilly or hot or warm.

e.        Tactile Imagery

            It is the imagery in which sense of touch represents in the text.[20]


How like a winter halt my absence been

From thee, the pleasure of the fleeting year!

What freezing have I felt, what dark days seen!

What old Desember’s bareness every where!

         In this sonnet, our mind also get involve in the sense that the speaker try telling about the condition when he is far away with his/her love like at the winter. He feels alone and his/her days are seen dark.

f.       Organic imagery

          Imagery may also represent an internal sensation, such as hunger, thirst, fatigue, or nausea when read and understanding the poem (organic imagery).[21] It is an internal sensation such as hunger, thirst, fatigue, or   nausea.[22] One example of internal sensation used in poem is in Lord Randal poem.

          “O where have you been Lord Randal my son?

          O where have you been my handsome young man?

          “I here been to the world wood; mother, make me bed soon,

          For I’m weary will hunting, and fain wald lie down.” (Lord Randal)

          This stanza represent a son answers his mother question, when he goes back from his trip. He tells to his mother that he is from the forest. And then, he asks his mother to prepare about for him, because he is so tired and want to sleep. From this situation, we can imagine that her son is so tired after he has done his trip in the forest.

 g.      Kinesthetic imagery

          It is the image that recreates a feeling of physical action or natural bodily function (like a pulse, a heartbeat, or breathing).[23]

Example:      Meeting at Night (Robert Browning)

                      And the voice less loud, through it joys and fears

                      Than the two heart breathing each to each

                        In this stanza, Robert browning uses kinesthetic imagery. Two hearts breathing each to each represent a feeling of physical reaction in a body. The text vividly represents a natural body function (heart breathing.

3.      Theme

Theme is like the main idea of a literary work. It is finding the meaning about what is the story telling about. According to Christopher the theme is the central concept developed in a poem, it is the basic idea which the poet is trying to convey and which, accordingly he always to direct his imagery. Most of the images in other words, are designed to present the central theme, or main idea, of the poem. The theme is, in another light, the poets’ reason for waiting the poem in the first place. It is usually an abstract concept which becomes concrete through the idiom and imagery.[24] Usually, theme of a literary work has a great deal with the author’s experience. In his/her work, the author is offering the meaning of life.[25] To get the theme of the poem, explication and some analysis of some fundamental elements of poetry are very valuable. The ideas, issues, and elements of poetry can find the theme.

To understand more about theme, the writer chooses “The sky is low,” the cloud are Mean by Emily Dickinson. This poem Dickinson present figure of winds and nature that has human attitude by used the words “complain” the writer choose this poem because this poem can give the theme more clearly. Mostly, the poem from Emily Dickinson has known by words and meaning in every line. Let’s seen in poem:

A narrow wind complain all day

How someone treaded him

Nature, like us, is sometime caught

Without her diadem

It presents the negative dimension of nature disaster that which the persona tried to give advised for the reader how to keep this nature still survive that can prevent the natural disaster so it would be gone and the happiness In the world will come true. So, the writer conclude that the theme of poem is giving good treatment for the nature is the way to keep it still survive and prevent the nature disaster.

[1] Stanley B. Greenfield and A. Kingley Wealtherhead, THE POEM: An Antology. (Meredith Corporation. 1968). p xxvii

[2] Perrine, Laurence and Thomas R. ARP. Sound and Sense : An Introduction to poem. Eight edition  (Outhern Methodist University. 1992). p. 3

[3] Danbury Conecticut. Encyclopedia Americana international Edition. (Scholastic Library Publishing, INC, USA. 1829), Vol.22, p. 277

[4] Rachmat Djoko Pradopo, op cit, p. 93

[5] Perrine, Laurence. Sound and Sense an Introduction to Poetry (USA: Harcourt, Brace and World. Inc, 1969), p. 82

[6] Perrine Laurene & R.ARP Thomas, Sound and Sense: An Introduction to Poetry (Florida, United State of America: Harcourt Brace College Publishers, 1991) Eight Edition, p.61

[7] Barnet, Sylvan, et al., An Introduction to Literature. (New York: Harper Collins Publishers 1993), Tenth Edition, p.63.

[8] Laurence Perrine(1969), loc.cit

[9] Laurence Perrine, op cit. p.67

[10] Joseph M Boughs and Dannies W Patry, The Art of Watching Film (USA: Maydielde Publishing Company, 2000), p. 62

[11] Meriam Webster’s Collagiate Dictionary 11th ed. (New York: Meriam_Webster Ins.2003). p.23

[12] Siswantoro, Apresiasi Puisi-puisi Sastra Inggris, (Surakarta: Muhammadiyah University Press, 2002), p.24.

[13] Ralph H. Singleton and Millet Stanton, an Introduction to Literature (New York: The World Publishing Company, 1966), p. 28

[14] Laurance Perrine op. cit p. 80

[15] Ibid, p. 54

[16] Laurence Perrine. op. cit p. 54

[18] Ibid

[19] Laurence Perrine (1969) loc. cit

[20] Laurence Perrine (1969) loc. cit

[21] Siswantoro, op. cit p.53

[23] ibid, p. 55

[24] Russel Reaske, Christper, How To Analyze Poetry. (Monarch Press: Harvard University, (1983),p.42

[25] Burhan Nugriantoro, Teori Pengkajian Fiksi. (Yogyakarta: Gajah Mada University Press, 2005), p. 67

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