Hopefully the reader will have no trouble in accepting, by now, the idea that poetry is meant to be spoken, not merely read on a page. Lanier asserts that “when formal poetry, or verse… is repeated aloud, it impresses itself upon the ear as verse only by means of certain relations existing among its component words considered purely as sounds, without reference to their associated ideas” (21). For example, even in another language, we can almost always distinguish a poem from a bit of prose by its rhyme, meter, alliteration, etc.
It seems important to note that while sound patterns can reinforce or create meaning in poems, the sounds are not by any means inherently linked to certain meanings. Certain sound pattern techniques can be applied in a number of different contexts with a number of different effects—any connection to a poem’s meaning is strictly situational (MacMahon 116). This does not, however, negate their importance, or their usefulness in the study of poetry, which is why it is important to take these sound effects into consideration.
In “The Idea of Order at Key West,” there are several pertinent examples of sound pattern techniques being used to reinforce meaning. For instance, there are a lot of w and s sounds in this poem, tying in with the soft, whispery sound and feel of wind, water, sky, and sea—which are some of the … Continue reading Sound in “The Idea of Order at Key West”
My interpretation of this poem has to do with our perception of reality; the subject of the poem hears a cry outside his window and becomes aware of the outside world gradually, by considering and reconsidering the sound. Likewise, the word “outside” is repeated three times throughout the poem, allowing the reader to experience it … Continue reading Sound in “Not Ideas About the Thing But the Thing Itself”
In “Final Soliloquy of the Interior Paramour,” Stevens uses a lot of hard, guttural consonant sounds such as g, d, and k (sometimes created with a c). This relates closely to the meaning of the poem, which is about human thought, knowledge, and imagination. When spoken aloud, the g, d, and k sounds are created … Continue reading Sound in “Final Soliloquy of the Interior Paramour”
Many of the sounds in this poem work to replicate the feeling or experience of waves rolling onto a breezy beach, which is the setting of the poem. For instance, the mellifluous language created by repeated vowel sounds (a, e, and o) and soft consonants (s, m, f, and r) gives the poem a flowing … Continue reading Sound in “Infanta Marina”