Sample Essay

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Any poem, although it may be composed of separable elements, is a single entity. Even though we may make separate analysis of its subject, its theme or its mode, its tone or its rhythm and so on and so forth, one must view the whole poem as a single unit. However sometimes it is possible for us to point out a single outstanding feature of the poetical structure of a work.

‘The Fly’ and ‘A slumber did my spirit seal’ are both characterized by sharp twists in their internal structure through changes in tense, voice and subject.

‘The Fly’ by Blake, is a five stanza poem. The style of the opening stanzas is casual. The first three stanzas have a first person subject; the poet is addressing the fly he has swatted away. There is a lack of structural cohesion between the first three stanzas and the last two. In the fourth stanza the tone and the voice undergoes a dramatic change. The tone is cold and impersonal. The third stanza shifts to first person singular. Together the last two stanzas can be interpreted as the fly’s response to the human. The fly, refutes the idea that the poet is Godlike in its life; it says that the poet, who has admitted to being thoughtless, may as well be dead already since ‘the want of thought is death’.

‘A Slumber did my Spirit Seal’ by Wordsworth is a two stanza poem, each stanza four lines long. The first stanza is composed in the past tense, in the second, the poem shifts abruptly from pat to present tense. The first stanza describes the poet’s headless state while his muse was alive; he neither feared his own death and nor imagined the death of his beloved. The occurrence of the death is never described explicitly but it is implied that it occurred at some time, between that of the first and the second stanzas. The second stanza describes the numbness brought on by the shock of intense grief or horror at the thought of death.

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