Poetry Paper

Poetry Paper - Sensation and Emotion Alexander Popes poem...

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Sensation and Emotion Alexander Pope’s poem “Sound and Sense” is about the value of making the sound of words echo the sense or emotion. “Sound and Sense” is a lyric poem entirely comprised of two things: criticism of poems that only focus on sound, and some examples of poetry that demonstrate sound echoing sense. The lines throughout the poem describe aversion towards rhythmically perfect poetry and meaningless, “dull line[s]” (line 347). The speaker of the poem argues that poetry has gone through change. His statement “But most by numbers judge a poet’s song / And smooth or rough, with them, is right or wrong:” (1-2) depicts how most people judge a poet’s poem strictly by numbers or versification. In other words, a poem is “right” or “wrong” depending on whether the tone of the words is smooth or rough. Pope’s entire “Sound and Sense” poem is about the speaker’s anger, distaste, and sadness towards poems that do not convey emotion or trigger sensations. His feelings can be condensed into these four lines of “Sound and Sense”: While, at each change, the son of Libyan Jove Now burns with glory, and then melts with love; Now his fierce eyes with sparkling fury glow, Now sighs steal out, and tears begin to flow: (376-79) In line 376, the “change” refers to the change the speaker believes poetry has gone through (376). The speaker argues that poetry has become immersed in rules to make the words sound rhythmically decent. Lines 376-379 illustrate the speaker’s reaction to sensation-lacking poetry. He is first glorifying the change and melting with love for it. However, the speaker’s reaction changes as he realizes that the poetry has no real meaning—it is only a pleasant tone. The
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speaker begins to show anger, a “fury glow” (378). Then, line 379 illustrates his emotions boiling down to sadness and tears. The speaker’s feelings towards sensation-less poetry can be further analyzed with consideration of figures of speech, punctuation, metrical structure, special sounds and rhymes schemes. For example, lines 376-79 use figures of speech such as “allusion”, “metaphor”, and “conceit”. Line 376 demonstrates the use of the figure of speech “allusion” when the speaker identifies himself with the “son of Libyan Jove”, a reference to Alexander the Great (376). The speaker is similar to Alexander the Great in the way that they both appreciate sound echoing sense. The speaker values the power of emotion and sensations in poetry as Alexander the Great is overcome by the power of emotion in Timotheus’ (Alexander’s court musician) music. Lines 376-79 use figures of speech by demonstrating the use of an extended metaphor or conceit. The speaker basically uses Alexander the Great as a metaphor for himself and carries this metaphor though out these four lines. Both of these examples prove that the speaker finds authenticity in poetry that conveys emotion and disapproves of poetry that does not. Similarly, analysis of line 376-79’s punctuation also depicts the speaker’s feelings. There
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This note was uploaded on 11/10/2011 for the course ENL 003 taught by Professor Swinkin during the Spring '08 term at UC Davis.

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Poetry Paper - Sensation and Emotion Alexander Popes poem...

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