Poetic Analysis Essay Example

Angela Johnston
English 1406

"Home Is So Sad" - Philip Larkin

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        On the surface, a "house" and a "home" are interchangeable words. They both describe a place where someone lives, but with a deeper analysis, we find that a house is simply the structure or the building. An actual home is much more complex. It is filled with objects and memories, which grow and change along with its residents. Home is a place we come back to after a long day's work, the place where we go to seek shelter and solace. When the world is changing outside, home remains constant, molded to the people who live and breathe inside. It is "home, sweet home". This popular cliché sheds a warm and comforting light on a home, giving it personality and feeling, the main factors that distinguish it from a house. However, in Philip Larkin's poem "Home Is So Sad", the speaker describes a home with a personality different from the "sweet" stereotype, portraying it as a place of loneliness and longing after its inhabitants have long deserted their dwellings. No longer is home thought of as sweet or warm. Ironically, even without its family, the house still remains a home, which is yearning and waiting for its family to return. The speaker personifies the house and its objects, using a melancholy and detached tone, and a crumbling structure to illustrate the breaking down of universal hope and the emptiness that results when a home is abandoned by its family.

        To emphasize the feeling of loneliness, the speaker personifies the empty home and its contents as objects that miss and long for their owners. This gives emotion and personality to the house, helping readers better understand its situation. Instead of saying the home "remains as it was left", the speaker states clearly "[h]ome is so sad/ [i]t stays as it was left . . ."(line 1). The narrative gives the home emotion and sentiment, which decreases the distance between man and object. Readers begin to mourn for the home in the same way that the home grieves for the missing family. The speaker shows the home wanting to win back its inhabitants because it is "bereft/ [o]f anyone to please, it withers so"(3-4). One would not normally think of a home trying to win over anything or anyone, but this personification creates such a sensation of longing that, we too, feel a loss. A loss that, without this description and personification, humans are apt to overlook. Inside the home there are memories and nostalgia that the residents leave behind, and from these memories, the home is "[s]haped to the comfort of the last to go . . ."(2). By characterizing the home, we are able to understand that the feelings the home is experiencing are quite parallel to the sad emotions people have when leaving their own home. Readers can fully relate and sympathize with the home because of this parallel. Most people have experienced leaving home for the first time or moving away. Because the emotions the speaker gives the home are so close to what a human's would be in reverse situation, we are able to recognize the similar emotions the home is dealing with. This personification further emphasizes the home's loss of its family.

        The tragic loss and helplessness is also exemplified through a removed and nostalgic tone. When reading the poem, one feels distant and detached. A caesura, or a natural pause, is created by the gap between the two stanzas. This mid-sentence pause seems almost as if the home is sighing in pain or suffering. When read aloud, it sounds as if the home is talking, and stops mid-sentence to reminisce about the times when it still had its family. The home "[has] no heart to put aside the theft", it does not have the courage and ability to forget about its loss and become only a building, a structure, a house, " and turn again to what it started as . . ."(5-6). The home cannot bear to face the fact that it no longer has the means to stay alive, stay a home. It does not want to accept the fact that it no longer has its family. The lines describing this denial are broken up between two stanzas. Something as simple as the white space dividing the beginning and end of the sentence creates hesitation, the same hesitation the home feels about accepting its loss. Also, all of the words in the poem are very monotonous and simple. Larkin easily could have used more complex vocabulary, but he uses words like "so sad", "stays"(1), and "you can see"(8), for a reason. It establishes an empty and lacking tone, which is similar to how the home is portrayed to feel. Similarly, simple and short lines, consisting of sentences broken up often by commas also work together to create this reflective and distant tone. These words also suggest more about the character of the home. The simple diction tone shows that the home is genuine rather than pompous or selfish. If, perhaps, the home were more concerned about itself rather than its inhabitants, we would see more of a lavish extravagant tone, instead of one that is plain and distant. The detachment also helps with the speaker's apparent view that the distance between what one originally plans and what one ends up achieving can be greater than expected. The family came into this house, and the house welcomed the family with a "joyous shot at how things ought to be"(6). Unfortunately, those joyous shots do not materialize and the home is left mourning their evaporation. The detached tone of the poem illustrates how the home becomes more and more hopeless with the passing of time by wishing for a shot at hope that has "[l]ong fallen wide"[8]. Furthermore, the deterioration of the home's hope can also be seen in the deterioration of the structure and syntax of the last stanza.

        The crumbling and falling apart of the poem's ending shows the hopelessness from the loss of a family or "heart". Near the end of the second stanza the sentences begin to fall apart as the home realizes that it is truly empty and that its family is not going to return. Up until the end of the poem, the lines are all part of one sentence. It is not until the end that Larkin includes other sentences, like "[y]ou can see how it was:/ [l]ook at the pictures and the cutlery"(8-9). They are short and fragmented, very different from the flowing and continuous form of the previous eight lines. This style mimics the home's helplessness and collapse of hope. One reason the sentences become so brief is to capture the stillness of the inanimate objects. These specific objects are very important in themselves, and without the short and succinct lines, they may be overlooked. The ending is also the first time that the speaker addresses the audience in the poem, telling us to "see how it was"(8). The inclusion of the audience also shows the break down of hope, as the "you" is used almost like an order. The speaker is telling us to "[l]ook at the pictures and the cutlery. /The music in the piano stool. That vase"(9-10). He or she is directing our attention to these specific objects, that each carries their own significance. Photographs often represent memories and the past. Through the speaker's orders to "look at the pictures . . " we are further able to realize ". . .how it was . . ." and how different and depressing it has become since then (8-9). The music is in the piano stool because it has not been played and is not going to be played. It is still and silent. Nevertheless, we get a feeling that it is yearning to be played like the home is yearning for its family. The music has been put away and the storage in the piano seat represents the ending of a life, the ending the home has yet to come to terms with. "That vase" is a very powerful way to conclude the poem. It is so simple yet so descriptive. The extremely short fragment emphasizes how demoralized and broken down the house has become. Importantly, the vase is alone, without flowers. Like the home, it is an empty vessel, hollow and now useless. It no longer has a purpose. There aren't any flowers to hold, similar to how the home has no family to accommodate. The crumbling syntax and style of the last stanza illustrates the absence life pumping through either the vase or the house. They both are unfilled, hollowed out, and helpless with no meaning or character, simple objects longing to be what they once were.

        When the owners and inhabitants of a home desert it, we see a different side to "home sweet home", a side of longing and unsettlement caused by this abandonment. This is the case in Philip Larkin's poem "Home Is So Sad". Without the family, the heart and soul of this home, there is no character or meaning left, nor purpose to keep living as a character. The home views itself as a vessel or vase for a family, and when the family gone, its fundamental identity is destroyed. The home is not just sad, but despondent and without hope. A home with no heart and no family is much more sad than one with a despondent family, or an unhappy heart. The home mourns and wishes for its family because without them, it will be what it was before, a house. Just like the empty vase, one of the few objects that remain inside, it has lost all meaning without life pumping through its core. Larkin shows this loss through a depressing personification, separated and detached tone, and the slow crumbling structure. The home is not yet a house because it is still filled with memories of the past, which it is desperately grasping onto. Those memories - the pictures, the cutlery, the music in the piano, and that vase, are the only things that remain. They are the home's last hope for life when all else has disappeared, the home's last hope from avoiding a depressing transformation back into a house.

 

Works Cited:(*)

Larkin, Philip. "Home Is So Sad." Literature and the Writing Process. Elizabeth McMahan et al.(*) 1st Canadian ed. Toronto: Pearson, 2005. 444.

 

Every author and poet have their own unique style that cannot be replicated. Based on how they think or what they are trying to portray, they create various poems to explore several ideas or theories that were on their mind.

Poetry analysis is simply . Normally, this review is conducted and recorded within the structure of a literary analysis essay. This type of essay writing requires one to take a deeper look at both the choices that a poet made and the overall effects of those choices. These papers require an in-depth analysis of all of the parts that were used to form a work of poetry.


Table Of Contents


Steps To Take Pre-Writing

In order to compose a poetry analysis essay, one must first read the poem carefully. It is definitely important to reread the literary piece several times so as to get a full grasp of the numerous ideas and concepts. This also gives you an opportunity to make note of the rhyme scheme (if there is one), the type of poem (Limerick, ode, sonnet, lyric, haiku, free verse, etc.) and other poetic techniques that the poet used (such as enjambment, meter, end-stopped lines, figurative language, etc.).

  • Limerick: Limerick is a stanza of five lines, with the first, second and fifth rhyming with one another and having three feet of three syllables each; and the shorter third and fourth lines also rhyming with each other, but having only two feet of three syllables.
  • Ode: Its structure - 10-line stanzas rhyming, with the 8th line iambic trimeter and all the others iambic pentameter
  • Sonnet: A fourteen-line poem written in iambic pentameter. Was made famous by non-other than Shakespeare! (Shakespeare invented the word "swag"... just saying)
  • Lyric: A lyric poem is a comparatively short, non-narrative poem in which a single speaker presents a state of mind or an emotional state. Rather than tell a story, the speaker talks about his thoughts using a specific rhyming style.
  • Haiku: Invented by the Japanese, a haiku is a three-line poem with seventeen syllables, written in a 5/7/5 syllable count.
  • Free-Verse: Rather simple, free verse is poetry that does not rhyme or have a regular rhythm.

All of those elements of the poem are essential to know when one is writing a poetry analysis essay because they are a part of the poem’s structure and can affect the content.

After covering the technical aspects of a poem, it is best to learn about the background of the poem. This means that one may find it beneficial to look up the poet, the date that the poem was written, and the cultural context of the work. All of that information typically gives the reader a more in-depth understanding of the poem, and it seems self-explanatory that one who has an enhanced comprehension of the poem would have an easier time conducting an analysis of that poem.

The final element of writing a poetry analysis essay is a part of the composition dedicated to the subject matter of the poem. This can be analyzed during the reader’s quest to determine the theme, tone, mood, and meaning of the poem. The subject matter – and the thematic elements that support the intended message behind the subject – is often an interpretive minefield.

Often, people have different ideas about what a poet is trying to say by their use of a subject, so unless the message is implicitly stated, it is best to state about what the poet may have meant and include evidence for these theories.

However, it is important to generally pick a side among the various theories that you have created. Though the author could have tried to portray several different ideas in theories, .
The writer should be careful to not mistake this with choosing a favorite opinion or biased one. They should be defending the one that carries the most weight or offers the most validation! As the essay is to be an analysis, opinions are to be avoided in favor of facts and conjectures that are backed by evidence from the work.

How To Choose A Topic

A great way to choose a topic for a poetry analysis essay is to decide on a topic that would deal with information that one is already familiar with. For example, if the choice of the poem to analyze is up to the writer, then it may be beneficial for the writer to choose a poem that he/she has encountered before. If the choice is to be made between different subject areas within a poem, then the writer could find it easier to choose to focus on writing about an area that plays to his/her strengths, so that the statements made in the essay are conveyed

A poetry analysis essay may seem like a daunting writing assignment at first, but if the topic, outline, and paper are composed following the aforementioned steps, the paper will no doubt, turn out very well.

Poetry Analysis Essay Outline

An outline for a poetry analysis essay can be very simple, as it is just a guideline for the writer to build upon as the first draft is written. It would probably be best to put the title of the paper at the top of a page, then place a Roman numeral one (I) underneath, preceding the word “introduction”.

Under this, one can list brainstormed ideas for the introduction paragraph of the paper. The final portion of this section should be dedicated to the thesis statement of the paper.

After that portion of the outline is finished, one can move on to the body paragraphs. Each of the Roman numerals used to label this part of the outline should denote a different subject area with respect to the poem that will be discussed in the essay. Letters under these numerals may be followed by subtopics within each subject area that are to be dealt within individual paragraphs (or sentences, if it is to be a shorter essay) within the body of the paper.

The final section of the outline is where the last Roman numeral is used in front of the word “conclusion”. The conclusion of the paper should contain a restatement of the thesis, preferably in different, yet recognizable wording. It should also include an overall concluding statement about your summarized viewpoint of the analyzed piece.

Poetry Analysis Essay Example

Essay Writing Advice From Our Professional Team

Fabokid, tutor from EssayPro

When it comes to poetry analysis, the tricky thing is to pinpoint literary devices and explain their meaning. When you pinpoint a literary device used in the poem (e.g. an anaphora) you want to explain its effect in the poem, not simply state that the author of the poem used an anaphora. As the article articulates, the structure and background of the poem is very important, but in case of analysis, it is of utmost importance to stress how background, structure, and literary devices influence the overall meaning of the poem as a whole. What message is it sending and what is it trying to say? Other literary devices that you should pay attention to are diction, imagery, and allusion. The background of the author will not always be available to you. For example, while you are taking an AP exam, pay attention to specific images and words that they use or the cultural references they make can really help you pinpoint where the author is from and assist you in writing your essay.

Have A Poem To Analyze and Feel Stumped?

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