How does language and form of a poem influence the way you think and feel about it?

Sample essay using the 2005 onwards anthology. Poems used are On My first Sonne, Anne Hathaway, Sonnet 130 and Mother, at any distance.

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How does language and form of a poem influence the way you think and feel about it?
Language can be instrumental in the way a poem will make you feel. On my first Sonne by Ben Jonson
(OMFS by BJ) is a eulogy, and is written in a melancholy tone: `as what he loves may never like too
much.' Anne Hathaway by Carol Ann Duffy (AH by CAD) also deals with loss, but in a more accepting
tone: `my living, laughing love'. The idea of romantic love and using a sonnet to demonstrate this
links with Shakespeare's Sonnet 130 (130 by WS), however, the tone reads as confused about his
feelings: `my mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun'. Similarly, you could also read Mother, at any
distance by Simon Armitage (MAAD by SA) as being confused as well; `I spacewalk through...where
something has to give'. Our emotions mold themselves around the emotions of the poems, which
helps the poems influence how we think and remember the poems.
The theme of love surrounds all of these poems and links them, and language helps support this.
Romantic love is used in 130 and AH, and very romantic language is used, for example in AH, CAD
writes: `the bed we loved in', which immediately makes us feel that history was wrong and he did
love her. In 130, WS writes: `And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare/as any she belied with false
compare', showing that despite of all her imperfections, he still loves her. Another type of love is
used in OMFS and MAAD, which is parent-child love. In MAAD, SA uses a irritable sort of tone,
showing that even though he loves his mother, he is a grown up and would like some freedom, as
referenced by the last line, `to fall or fly'. This could also interpret as even though he wants freedom,
he knows if he falls his mother will catch him. It is completely different in OMFS, the poet's son has
just died, and it is a last goodbye of sorts. He even calls his son `his best piece of poetrie', which
states that his son is his best work, or is the best thing he has done, surpassing his writing talents.
All four of these poems are sonnets, and this show that these are all poems of love. None of them
are in traditional sonnet form, and this could be for a number of reasons. In AH, the persona of Anne
Hathaway has written a sonnet somewhat like WS, but it is changed, to show that he has died, and his
art has died with him. The rhythm changes as, almost a tribute to Shakespeare, and the end couplet,
instead of being two lines like in a Shakespearian sonnet, is two and a half, using enjambment like a
monologue, which shows that she is reading her last speech to her husband, or justifying him leaving
the second best bed to her. OMFS is 12 lines, which is two short of a traditional sonnet, because it is
parental love and his son's life has been cut short: `seven yeeres tho'wert lent to me...' The rhyming
couplets in the poem show his constant love for his son. MAAD is almost a sonnet, but with 15 lines,
showing parent-child love again, but it could also symbolise that his mother is overprotecting him.
The internal rhyme in the poem shows their closeness and how he is trying to put some space
between them: `two floors below your fingertips still pinch/the last one-hundredth of an inch...' 130
is written in traditional form, but what makes it unusual is the fact that he is insulting her all the way
through the poem, until the volta, which sums up his feelings for her. The fact that all of these are
sonnets makes us remember them for being love poems, and therefore makes it more upsetting to
remember a poem like OMFS.
In conclusion, the language can influence your feelings about that poem very strongly, e.g. in OMFS,
we can tell it is a eulogy straight away y the fact that the first word is farewell. It can change how we
feel completely, and the form, especially if it is a sonnet, can help us remember the poem well.


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