December 20, 2008

A Glossary of Literary Criticism

A deceiving or self-deceived character in fiction, normally an object of ridicule in comedy or satire, but often the hero of a tragedy. In comedy he most frequently takes the form of a miles gloriosus or a pedant.
Relating to literature as a total order of words.
A form of prose fiction, traditionally known as the Menippean or Varronian satire and represented by Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy, characterized by a great variety of subject-matter and a strong interest in ideas. In shorter forms it often has a cena or symposium setting and verse interludes.
The thematic term corresponding to "myth" in fictional literature: metaphor as pure and potentially total identification, without regard to plausibility or ordinary experience.
A symbol, usually an image, which recurs often enough in literature to be recognizable as an element of one's literary experience as a whole.
A form of drama in which the main subject is sacred or sacrosanct legend, such as miracle plays, solemn and processional in form but not strictly tragic. Name taken from Calderon's Autos sacramentales..
Autobiography regarded as a form of prose fiction, or prose fiction cast in the form of autobiography.
The meaning of a work of literature, which may be the total pattern of its symbols (literal meaning), its correlation with an external body of propositions or facts (descriptive meaning), its theme, or relation as a form of imagery to a potential commentary (formal meaning), its significance as a literary convention or genre (archetypal meaning), or its relation to total literary experience (anagogic meaning).
The adaptation of myth and metaphor to canons of morality or plausibility.
A self-deprecating or unobtrusively treated character in fiction, usually an agent of the happy ending in comedy and of the catastrophe in tragedy.
Encyclopaedic Form:
A genre presenting an anagogic form of symbolism, such as a sacred scripture, or its analogues in other modes. The term includes the Bible, Dante's Commedia, the great epics, and the works of Joyce and Proust.

The literary genre in which the radical of presentation is the author or minstrel as oral reciter, with a listening audience in front of him.
The internal social context of a work of literature, comprising the characterization and setting of fictional literature and the relation of the author to his reader or audience in thematic literature.
Literature in which the radical of presentation is the printed or written word, such as novels and essays.
Relating to literature in which there are internal characters, apart from the author and his audience; opposed to thematic. (N.B. The use of this term is regrettably inconsistent with the preceding one, as noted on p. 248.)
High Mimetic:
A mode of literature in which, as in most epics and tragedies, the central characters are above our own level of power and authority, though within the order of nature and subject to social criticism.
A symbol in its aspect as a formal unit of art with a natural content.
A primary consideration governing the process of composition, such as the metre selected for a poem; taken from Coleridge.
A mode of literature in which the characters exhibit a power of action inferior to the one assumed to be normal in the reader or audience, or in which the poet's attitude is one of detached objectivity.
The mythos (sense 2) of the literature concerned primarily with a "realistic" level of experience, usually taking the form of a parody or contrasting analogue to romance. Such irony may be tragic or comic in its main emphasis; when comic it is normally identical with the usual meaning of satire.
The verbal "texture" or rhetorical aspect of a work of literature, including the usual meanings of the terms "diction" and "imagery."
Low Mimetic:
A mode of literature in which the characters exhibit a power of action which is roughly on our own level, as in most comedy and realistic fiction.
A literary genre characterized by the assumed concealment of the audience from the poet and by the predominance of an associational rhythm distinguishable both from recurrent metre and from semantic or prose rhythm.
A species of drama in which music and spectacle play an important role and in which the characters tend to be or become aspects of human personality rather than independent characters.
The rhythm, movement, and sound of words; the aspect of literature which is analogous to music, and often shows some actual relation to it. From Aristotle's melopoiia.
A relation between two symbols, which may be simple juxtaposition (literal metaphor), a rhetorical statement of likeness or similarity (descriptive metaphor), an analogy of proportion among four terms (formal metaphor), an identity of an individual with its class (concrete universal or archetypal metaphor), or statement of hypothetical identity (anagogic metaphor).
A conventional power of action assumed about the chief characters in fictional literature, or the corresponding attitude assumed by the poet toward his audience in thematic literature. Such modes tend to succeed one another in a historical sequence.
A symbol in its aspect as a center of one's total literary experience; related to Hopkins's term "inscape" and to Joyce's term "epiphany."
A symbol in its aspect as a verbal unit in a work of literary art.
A narrative in which some characters are superhuman beings who do things that "happen only in stories"; hence, a conventionalized or stylized narrative not fully adapted to plausibility or "realism."
The narrative of a work of literature, considered as the grammar or order of words (literal narrative), plot or "argument" (descriptive narrative), secondary imitation of action (formal narrative), imitation of generic and recurrent action or ritual (archetypal narrative), or imitation of the total conceivable action of an omnipotent god or human society (anagogic narrative).
One of the four archetypal narratives, classified as comic, romantic, tragic, and ironic.
Primitive or popular, in the sense given those terms of an ability to communicate in time and space more readily than other types of literature.
The spectacular or visible aspect of drama; the ideally visible or pictorial aspect of other literature.
The character in an ironic fiction who has the role of a scapegoat or arbitrarily chosen victim.
One of the five contexts in which the narrative and meaning of a work of literature may be considered, classified as literal, descriptive, formal, archetypal, and anagogic.
One of six distinguishable stages of a mythos (sense 2).
Point of Epiphany:
An archetype presenting simultaneously an apocalyptic world and a cyclical order of nature, or sometimes the latter alone. Its usual symbols are ladders, mountains, lighthouses, islands, and towers.
The mythos of literature concerned primarily with an idealized world.
A form of prose fiction practised by Scott, Hawthorne, William Morris, etc., distinguishable from the novel.
A fictional mode in which the chief characters live in a I world of marvels (naive romance), or in which the mood is elegiac or idyllic and hence less subject to social criticism than in the mimetic modes.
The general tendency to present myth and metaphor in an idealized human form, midway between undisplaced myth and "realism."
A symbol in its aspect as a verbal representative of a natural object or concept.
Any unit of any work of literature which can be isolated for critical attention. In general usage restricted to the smaller units, such as words, phrases, images, etc.
Relating to works of literature in which no characters are involved except the author and his audience, as in most lyrics and essays, or to works of literature in which internal characters are subordinated to an argument maintained by the author, as in allegories and parables; opposed to fictional.

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December 12, 2008

Rhyme,Theme, and Imagery Poetry


Rhyme, likeness of the terminal sounds of words, frequently used in versification either at the end of a line of verse or within the line. Rhyme appeared only occasionally in classical Greek and Latin poetry; it was used more extensively later, in songs of the medieval Roman Catholic church. Rhyme was not established as a technique in English poetry until the 14th century. Since then not all styles of poetry have employed rhyme, but it has never fallen entirely into disuse. Rhyme functions as an element of rhythm, emphasizing poetic beat. There are three types of true rhymes: masculine rhymes, in which the final syllable of the word or line is stressed ("spring," "bring"); feminine rhymes, in which two consecutive syllables, the first of which is accented, are alike in sound ("certain," "curtain"); and triple rhymes, in which all three syllables of a word are identical ("flowery," "showery"). Words in which the vowel and the following consonants in a stressed syllable are identical in sound, even if spelled differently, are called perfect rhymes ("two" and "too," or "spring" and "bring"). In eye, or sight, rhyme the words look as if they rhyme, but do not: "move," "love." Slant, or oblique, rhyme uses words with an imperfect match of sounds. Within this category, consonance relies on the similarity of consonant sounds: "shift," "shaft"; assonance relies on the similarity of vowel sounds: "grow," "home." A pair of rhyming lines is called a couplet; three lines that rhyme are called a triplet. Traditional poetic forms have prescribed rhyming patterns; for example, sonnets usually follow the Italian rhyme scheme, abba abba cde cde, or the English rhyme scheme, abab cdcd efef gg. Blank verse is regular in meter but does not rhyme; free verse is irregular in meter and also does not rhyme.


Controlling Idea: The theme of a literary work. The controlling idea of a poem is the idea continuously developed throughout the poem by sets of key words that identify the poet's subject and his attitude or feeling about it. It may also be suggested by the title of a poem or by segment of the poem. It is rarely stated explicitly by the poet, but it can be stated by the reader and it can be stated in different ways. The controlling idea is an idea, not a moral; it is a major idea, not a minor supporting idea or detail; and it controls or dominates the poem as a whole.

The word theme is here used to name the particular subject matter of the poem in relationship to the reader's previous observation of the life about him and within him. Theme, then, here refers to those broad generalizations and high-order abstractions which each person develops in dealing with the common experiences of life. Each of us was born, and each of us will die. And, then no one of us can report his own birth of his own dearth, everyone had had some personal observation at first of second hand of the elemental and universal facts of life, Birth and Death. So, too, every mature person has had some experience of what we shall call of Heart of and Mind, of Friendship and of Love, of Youth and Of Nature and of Art, of Work and of Play, of War and of Justice, of Doubt and of Terror…; and most persons will add that they have had some experience of Faith and of God and is not complete list of universal experiences, but it will do to suggest the possible range of poetic themes.


Most figures of speech cast up a picture in your mind. These pictures created or suggested by the poet are called 'images'. To participate fully in the world of poem, we must understand how the poet uses image to convey more than what is actually said or literally meant.

We speak of the pictures evoked in a poem as 'imagery'. Imagery refers to the "pictures" which we perceive with our mind's eyes, ears, nose, tongue, skin, and through which we experience the "duplicate world" created by poetic language. Imagery evokes the meaning and truth of human experiences not in abstract terms, as in philosophy, but in more perceptible and tangible forms. This is a device by which the poet makes his meaning strong, clear and sure. The poet uses sound words and words of color and touch in addition to figures of speech. As well, concrete details that appeal to the reader's senses are used to build up images.

Although most of the image-making words in any language appeal to sight (visual images), there are also images of touch (tactile), sound (auditory), taste (gustatory), and smell (olfactory). The last two terms in parentheses are mainly used by lovers of jargon. An image may also appeal to the reader's sense of motion: a verb like Pope's spring does so.

A good poet does not use imagery -- that is, images in general -- merely to decorate a poem. He does not ask Himself, "How can I dress up my subject so that it will seem fancier than it is?" Rather, he asks himself, "How can I make my subject appear to the reader exactly as it appears to me?" Imagery helps him solve his problem, for it enables him to present his subject as it is: as it looks, smells, tastes, feels and sounds. To the reader imagery is equally important: it provides his imagination with something palpable to seize upon.

TYPES OF IMAGES (according to the source of visual images)

1. SIMPLE DESCRIPTION - a large number of images which arise in a poem come from simple description of visible objects or actions.

2.1 DRAMATIC MONOLOGUE - as soon as the reader becomes aware that the poem is a dramatic monologue, he visualizes a speaker with the result that the particularity of the situation is evident.
2.2 DIALOGUE - has the same effect as Dramatic Monologue.

3. STORY - like description, narration causes the reader or hearer to form images. When the reader realizes that he is being told a tale he visualizes from habit; he does not wish to miss the point of the story.

4. METONYMY - when a poet uses metonymy, he names one thing when he really
means another thing with which the first is closely connected. e.g. Seven little foreheads stared up at me from the first row. (where "foreheads" is used for "eyes" ).

5. SYNECDOCHE - when a poet uses synecdoche, he names a part of a thing when he means whole thing (or vice versa) or the genius for the species.

6. ONOMATOPOEIA - although imagery usually refers to visual images, there are also aural images. The use of words which sound like their meaning is called onomatopoeia. e.g. buzz, hiss, clang , splash, murmur, chatter, etc.

Philip Sidney said, "Imaging is itself the very height and life of poetry." It must be so, form the very nature of poetic vision, which always embodies itself in the form of symbols. The personality of the poet, which is the well-spring of his poetry will be a world created from all that he has known and felt and seen and heard and thought. His image-making poetic faculty and his imagination will blend together his memories and his immediate perceptions into a thousand of varieties of shapes and associations of living loveliness and power. However apparently direct and unadorned the poet makes his verses, he will employ images. However simple his statement he cannot make it abstract.

How imagery comes to the poet, how it is carried alive into the heart by passion is too mysterious a process to analyze. It brings us back at once to the problem of creation in general. Under the influence of the creative ferment, the consciousness of the poet seizes association and poetry is the union of the mental and emotional excitement of the experience with imagery which leaps to meet it, and which must be already in the memory of the poet.

"Poetry," Microsoft® Encarta® 98 Encyclopedia. © 1993-1997 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.
Clare, M. T., S.C. (1960) A Book of Poetry. New York: Macmillan Co.
Del Tufo, J. P. (1965) What is Poetry?. Publication Office:Ateneo de Manila University.
Drew, E. H. (1933) Discovering Poetry. New York:W.W. Norton & Co., Inc.
Bautista, Cirilo F. (1985) DLSU Research Center: De La Salle University Manila
Seng, P.J. and Main, C.F. (1996) Poems: Wadsworth Handbook and Anthology. California: Wadsworth Publishing Company Inc.

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Poetic meter

by: Christine Abriza

In most poems, the lines are written according to patterns of rhythm. Poetic meter is the measure of a line of poetry. It is rhythm that can be measured in poems.

Scansion is the act of making a poem to show the metrical units of which it is composed. It means any attempt, by signs, to indicate the beat of a line of poetry and to mark off the division of feet. Here are the steps to take in scanning a poem, (1) Mark the syllables (Read the poem at this and each succeeding step.) (2) Mark the feet. (3) Mark the caesuras (noticeable pause in a line of poetry and it has a peculiar effect on the total beat of the line). (4) Expect to encounter variations, but do not consider them in naming the bad meter (5) Check your scansion to make sure that it reflects the poem rather than preconceived notion of your own.

The smallest of these metrical units is the 'syllable'. English syllables are two kinds: accented or stressed, and unaccented or unstressed. An "accented syllable" requires more wind and push behind it than an unaccented; it also maybe pitched slightly higher or held for a slightly longer time.

After the syllable, the next largest metrical unit is the 'foot', which is group of two or more syllables. The six common kinds of feet in English metrics have been names derived from Greek:

1. IAMBIC foot consists of unaccented syllable followed by an accented. It can be heard in such words as "because, hello, Elaine".

2. TROCHAIC foot consists of an accented syllable followed by an unaccented. These are trochaic words: answer, Tuesday, Albert.

3. DACTYLIC foot consists of an accented syllable followed by two unaccented syllables. You can hear the dactylic beat in these words: beautiful, silently, Saturday.

4. ANAPESTIC foot consists of two unaccented syllables followed by an accented syllable. These words are anapestic: cavalier, tambourine, Marianne.

5. SPONDAIC foot consists of two accented syllables.

6. PYRRHIC foot consists of two unaccented syllables.

The next largest metrical unit is the 'line'. A line is the regular succession of feet, and, though it is not necessarily a sentence, it customarily begins with a capital letter. The number of feet in a line of verse determines the measure or meter. Most poems are not built on a fixed meter, but rather on a combination of meters and variety of them. A line containing only one foot is called a "monometer"; one with two feet, a "dimeter" line; and so on through "trimeter", "tetrameter", "pentameter", "hexameter", "heptameter", and "octameter".

Granted that much more than meter is needed for a poem, does it follow that a poem must have a meter? A large number of poets, especially in the early years of the twentieth century, answered this negatively. Their poems, written in rhythmical language but not in traditional meters, are called 'free verse'. Nonmetrical poetry is called free because the poet has freed himself from conforming himself to the set of metrical patterns. Free verse must not be confused with "blank verse', which is the customary label for iambic pentameter without rhyme. Unlike the free verse, blank verse has a regular metrical pattern.

Meter has two functions. First, it makes poem pleasurable because it is intrinsically delightful. In addition to making a poem enjoyable, meter makes it more meaningful. It is a part of the total meaning -- a part that cannot always be described in words, but can always be felt and is always lost when a poem is paraphrased or when it is translated from one language to another.

Clare, M. T., S.C. (1960) A Book of Poetry. New York: Macmillan Co.
Del Tufo, J. P. (1965) What is Poetry?. Publication Office:Ateneo de Manila University.
Seng, P.J. and Main, C.F. (1996) Poems: Wadsworth Handbook and Anthology. California: Wadsworth Publishing Company Inc

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December 06, 2008

The Balinese Earth

Oka Rusmini Poem

The Balinese Earth


perhaps in your eyes there never was any map
of the ancestors of Balinese earth
or perhaps life has never taught you beauty
and the leaves so often picked by our ancestors
along the bank of Badung river
never told the tales of their genealogy

I remember
when as a child the river told me many stories
our ancestors sat close to the edge
with their legs stretched out into the water
letting their sarongs get soaked
as the water washed gladly over them

I often ran along the edge with my tricycle
the coconut trees teaching me the fable of a certain temple
you must learn the genealogy of earth ,they said,
for hundreds of offering have been prepared
by those who own this land

my fragrant Bali, the blood of the dancer turned into flames
that burn away the floral fertility of my land

children still play
along the shore, and an old woman waits for her grandchild
small fish, the aroma of earth
gives youth to her breath


Do you know the meaning of earth?
or perhaps you’ve never heard the question
the sky that protects you from the sun’s stretched bow
has made you forget the ancestral blood
that has often inundated your form

the sound of carriages that once woke up women for the market
has been packaged into fairy tales
far across the sea,the sky that you’ve begun to make your enemy
has no foam or coral that you might sculpt into a form of civilization

was it an idiot native of this land who occupied this simple plot of earth?
estrangement envelopes every world on which we might plant our feet
perhaps we still have a temple
at which you steal glances thinking
it too might be made an entertainment
where now can the ancestors of the sacred Sang Hyang dancer go
to make their confession of faith?

there is no ritual
the ancestors return home
the water at the edges of the Badung river refuses our touch
the old woman who often brought her grandchild here
has lost the river
how many genealogies of earth do you understand?
who can you trust to shoulder the burden of these mistakes?

if you longer have trees
or earth thet gives off the aroma of blossoming rice
to whom will you sing the song of your greatness?

people with no eyes, hearths or head
are only brave enough to proposition the beauty of your land
you dance on its body
tell me: which dance do you really understand?


so long as women entrust their prayers to the leaves
Temples shiver, their vomit soaking the statues
foreign hand in giving carvings
my Temples
have spoken to the rain
that never will give birth to their seed

hundreds of dances only understood by the gods have faded away
their shards killing off the blossom of rice

rituals no longer have voices of their own
and women who were often awakened by the sound of carriages
no longer know the beauty of the body of rice

smoke envelopes every earth on which I plant my steps

I see blood swiftly flowing
the wound of coral in the sea
the sky rent asunder
so what I cant’t even distinguish its colors

people of the coast across the sea
bury hundreds of additional corpses
is it a native of this land who weeps in the corners of the city
no longer able to connect her rituals with the scent of the earth that is hers

and just to smell the earth
the owners of the map, of the Badung river and the sea,
even the gods, must pay the price of the aroma of their own land


where is the earth that once dirtied my tinny feet
where the ceremony of my birth
complete with so many kinds of flowers and leaves of the forest
that cleansed me so that I came to posses this land?
where the ancestors
who so often sang the song of genealogy of the greatness of humanity?
where are the dancers
absorbed in devotion who borrowed night study
inspiration from the gods of dance?

history no longer has any greatness
for you no longer know the earth

as long as the leaves prepare death
how many plots of land will you set aside for the burial?

translated by Thomas M. Hunter

Tanah Bali


mungkin tanah Bali tak punya peta leluhur di matamu
atau hidup tak pernah mengajari keindahan
daun-daun yang sering dipetik para leluhur di pinggir kali Badung
tak pernah mendongengkan silsilah padamu

aku ingat
ketika kanak-kanak air kali itu bercerita banyak padaku
dan leluhur duduk dekat kali
menjulurkan kaki. kain mereka dibiarkan basah
air kali memandikannya dengan riang

aku sering berlari dengan sepeda roda tiga
mengitari kali. pohon kelapa mengajari dongeng sebuah Pura
katanya, aku harus tahu silsilah tanah
beratus tumbal telah diciptakan para pemilik tanah

Baliku harum. darah para penari telah jadi api
membakar kesuburan bunga-bunga tanahku

anak-anak tetap bermain
dekat tepi kali seorang perempuan menunggu cucunya
ikan-ikan kecil, bau tanah basah
memberi kemudaan bagi nafasnya


pahamkah kau arti jadi tanah?
pertanyaan ini mungkin tak pernah kaukenal
langit yang melindungimu dari busur matahari
membuatmu lupa pada darah leluhur yang sering menyiram bentukmu

suara delman yang membangunkan perempuan-perempuan pasar
terbungkus jadi dongeng
jauh di seberang, langit mulai kaumusuhi
tak ada karang dan buih bisa dipahat jadi peradaban

pribumi tololkah yang menempati sepetak tanah?
keterasingan membungkus setiap bumi yang dipijak
kita mungkin masih punya Pura
yang kau lirik juga jadi tempat permainan
kemana para leluhur penari Sang Hyang mementaskan keakuannya?

tak ada upacara memikat leluhur pulang
air di tepi kali Badung tak ingin disentuh
perempuan tua yang sering mengantar cucunya
kehilangan kali
berapa silsilah tanah kaupahami?
siapa yang kaupercaya menanggung kesalahan ini?

kalau kau punya pohon
atau tanah yang tak memiliki keharuman bunga padi
pada siapa kau akan bercerita tentang kebesaranmu?

orang-orang tanpa mata, hati, dan kepala
hanya berani meminang keindahan tanahmu
kau menari di atas tubuhnya
katakan padaku, tarian apa yang kau pahami?


selagi para perempuan menitipkan doa lewat bunga-bunga
Pura-Pura menggigil, muntahannya membasahi patung-patung
tangan-tangan asing ikut memberi pahatan
telah bercerita pada hujan
yang tak akan melahirkan benihnya

beratus tarian yang hanya dipahami para dewa luntur
patahannya membunuh bunga-bunga padi

upacara tak lagi memiliki suara sendiri
para perempuan yang sering dibangunkan suara delman
tak lagi tahu keindahan tubuh padi

asap membungkus setiap tanah yang kupijak

kulihat darah mengalir deras
kulihat luka batu karang di lautan
kulihat langit pecah
bahkan tak bisa kubedakan warnanya

orang-orang dari pesisir menyeberang
menanam beratus bangkai baru
pribumikah yang menangis di sudut-sudut kota
tak lagi bisa merangkai upacara dengan bau tanah miliknya

bahkan untuk mencium tanah
para pemilik peta, pemilik kali Badung, pemilik laut
bahkan para dewa harus membayar bau tanah miliknya


mana tanahku yang sempat mengotori kaki kecilku
mana upacara kelahiranku
lengkap dengan beragam bunga dan daun hutan
yang membasuhku jadi pemilik tanah ini
mana para leluhur
yang sering mendongengkan silsilah kebesaran manusia
mana para penari
yang khusuk meminjam malam mempelajari taksu dewa tari

sejarah tak lagi memiliki kebesaran
karena tanah tak lagi kau kenali

selagi daun-daun mempersiapkan kematian
berapa petak tanah kau sisakan untuk penguburan ini?

Denpasar, 1994

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December 01, 2008

Poetry Terminology

Elements of Poetry

The following is a list of the elements of poetry. Take the time to reflect on how each element contributes to a poem's meaning, and then brainstorm ways in which you can use it to further illuminate your own piece's meaning.

POEM: a work of literature in verse that often, but not necessarily, employs meter, rhyme, or figurative language in an attempt to communicate an aesthetic experience or statement which cannot be fully paraphrased in prose.

Poetic Devices

Speaker- voice behind the poem establishing a point of view (can be a persona)

Situation- circumstances surrounding the poem

Diction- choice of words

Syntax- grammatical order of words

Imagery- verbal expression of a sensory detail (visual, auditory, tactile, gustatory, or olfactory)

Irony- contradiction of expectation (verbal, situational, or dramatic)

Symbolism- representation in which an object or action represents something beyond itself

Basic Terms

denotation: the dictionary meaning of a word

connotation: the implied or suggested meaning connected with a word

literal meaning: limited to the simplest, ordinary, most obvious meaning

figurative meaning: associative or connotative meaning; representational

meter: measured pattern of rhythmic accents in a line of verse

rhyme: correspondence of terminal sounds of words or of lines of verse

Figurative Language

apostrophe: a direct address of an inanimate object, abstract qualities, or a person not living or present.

Example: "Beware, O Asparagus, you've stalked my last meal."

hyperbole: exaggeration for emphasis (the opposite of understatement)

Example: "I'm so hungry I could eat a horse."

metaphor: comparison between essentially unlike things without using words OR application of a name or description to something to which it is not literally applicable

Example: "[Love] is an ever fixed mark, / that looks on tempests and is never shaken."

metonymy: a closely related term substituted for an object or idea

Example: "We have always remained loyal to the crown."

oxymoron: a combination of two words that appear to contradict each other

Example: bittersweet

paradox: a situation or phrase that appears to be contradictory but which contains a truth worth considering

Example: "In order to preserve peace, we must prepare for war."

personification: the endowment of inanimate objects or abstract concepts with animate or living qualities

Example: "Time let me play / and be golden in the mercy of his means"

pun: play on words OR a humorous use of a single word or sound with two or more implied meanings; quibble

Example: "They're called lessons . . . because they lessen from day to day."

simile: comparison between two essentially unlike things using words such as "like," as," or "as though"

Example: "My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun"

Poetic Devices

irony: a contradiction of expectation between what is said and what is meant (verbal irony) or what is expected in a particular circumstance or behavior (situational), or when a character speaks in ignorance of a situation known to the audience or other characters (situational)

Example: "Time held me green and dying / Though I sang in my chains like the sea"

imagery: word or sequence of words representing a sensory experience (visual, auditory, olfactory, tactile, and gustatory)

Example: "bells knelling classes to a close" (auditory)

symbol: an object or action that stands for something beyond itself

Example: white = innocence, purity, hope

alliteration: the repetition of consonant sounds, particularly at the beginning of words

Example: ". . . like a wanderer white"

assonance: the repetition of similar vowel sounds

Example: "I rose and told him of my woe"

elision: the omission of an unstressed vowel or syllable to preserve the meter of a line of poetry

Example: "Th' expense of spirit in a waste of shame"

onomatopoeia: the use of words to imitate the sounds they describe

Example: "crack" or "whir"

allusion: a reference to the person, event, or work outside the poem or literary piece

Example: "Shining, it was Adam and maiden"


open: poetic form free from regularity and consistency in elements such as rhyme, line length, and metrical form

closed: poetic form subject to a fixed structure and pattern

stanza: unit of a poem often repeated in the same form throughout a poem; a unit of poetic lines ("verse paragraph")

blank verse: unrhymed iambic pentameter

free verse: lines with no prescribed pattern or structure

couplet: a pair of lines, usually rhymed

heroic couplet: a pair of rhymed lines is iambic pentameter (tradition of the heroic epic form)

quatrain: four-line stanza or grouping of four lines of verse

sonnet: fourteen line poem in iambic pentameter with a prescribed rhyme scheme; its subject is traditionally that of love

English (Shakespearean) Sonnet: A sonnet probably made popular by Shakespeare with the following rhyme scheme: abab cdcd efef gg

Italian (Petrarchan) Sonnet: A form of sonnet made popular by Petrarch with the following rhyme scheme: abbaabba cdecde OR cdcdcd

Its first octave generally presents a thought, picture, or emotion, while its final sestet presents an explanation, comment, or summary.


stress: greater amount of force used to pronounce one syllable over another

pause: (caesura) a pause for a beat in the rhythm of the verse (often indicated by a line break or a mark of punctuation)

rising meter: meter containing metrical feet that move from unstressed to stressed syllables

iambic (iamb): a metrical foot containing two syllables--the first is unstressed, while the second is stressed

anapestic (anapest): a metrical foot containing three syllables--the first two are unstressed, while the last is stressed

falling meter: meter containing metrical feet that move from stressed to unstressed syllables

trochaic (trochee): a metrical foot containing two syllables--the first is stressed, while the second is unstressed

dactylic (dactyl): a metrical foot containing three syllables--the first is stressed, while the last two are unstressed

spondee: an untraditional metrical foot in which two consecutive syllables are stressed

iambic pentameter: a traditional form of rising meter consisting of lines containing five iambic feet (and, thus, ten syllables)

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November 26, 2008

Nenden Lilis Poems

From the Lost Centuries

On midnight, you soaked wet in rain
After that long journey
“Please go home!” the wind moans inside your heart

You stood like a statue in front of the house
That you abandoned
A house with no more dwellers
In quietness, the sound of a house-lizard is bursted out
In the dark, you hear the sound of water
Dropped through the leaky roof

“Come in!” a magical voice sounded
emerged from the lost centuries

your feet trembled, took a step toward inner floors
the cold moist walls
spreading unpleasant odor
with the rest of the lights within your eyes
you observed the loneliness inside the room
“this house is empty, definitely empty!”

and then you wept.


translated by Nikmah Sarjono

Dari Abad-abad yang Hilang

tengah malam kau kuyup dalam hujan
setelah perjalanan jauh itu
"pulanglah!" angin merintih di hatimu

kau mematung di ambang rumah yang kautinggalkan
dan lama tak berpenghuni
dalam sunyi, pecah suara cecak
dalam gelap, kaudengar tetes air
jatuh dari seng yang bolong

"masuklah!" sebuah suara terasa gaib
datang dari abad-abad yang hilang

kakimu gemetar menginjak lantai dalam
dinding-dinding dingin dan sembab
merupai juga bau lembab

dengan sisa cahaya dalam matamu
kau menyimak sepi dalam ruangan
"rumah ini memang kosong, memang kosong!"

dan kau menangis


Poem of a House

This house becomes narrower
Inside it we both got buried
Not be able to help each other

This room smelled mengkudu
While fingernails still be blue

Face becomes haggard
Chest becomes thinner
Mouth becomes pale
Persistently coughing
For a long time has forgotten how to sing

The owner of this house came
Not to visit
But to evict

2001- 2002

translated by Nikmah Sarjono

Sajak Rumah

rumah ini semakin sempit
di dalamnya kita sama-sama terpuruk
dan tak bisa saling menolong

ruang bau mengkudu
sedang kuku tetap membiru

wajah kian tirus
dada kian tipis
mulut lesi
selalu terbatuk
sekian lama lupa bersenandung

si tua pemilik rumah datang
tidak untuk menjenguk
tapi mengusir


House of Memory

A homeless person could never go home anywhere
Except to memories beneath the guava tree
To old mother and father who sit speechlessly in a
Dusty room

She still feels she belonged to that dull cupboard
Although its key hole is stuck, its door can not
Be closed, its mirror reflects tapering shadows

Traces of soil on a hoe and a shirt full of mud
Hanged in the kitchen is also like
The rest of her heart
Although something is difficult to grow
Like the apple tree in the backyard
Its leaves withered, got eaten by caterpillars
Or the pomegranate tree, its fruits cracked
Before they got ripe

But a homeless person still wants to stay
Although she doesn’t know, are there still yearnings,
Is someone still waiting?

She just knew
Life is actually being alone

translated by Nikmah Sarjono

Rumah Kenangan

seorang tanpa rumah tak bisa pulang kemana-mana
kecuali pada kenangan di pohon jambu klutuk
pada ibu-bapak renta yang terpekur di kamar berdebu

lemari kusam itu masih dirasa miliknya
meski lubang kuncinya macet, pintunya tak bisa
menutup, cerminnya memantulkan bayangan lonjong

bekas tanah di cangkul dan baju berlumpur
yang menggantung di bilik dapur juga
seperti sisa hatinya
meski selalu ada yang terasa sulit tumbuh
seperti pohon apel di kebun belakang
daunnya rangkas dimakan ulat
atau pohon delima, buahnya belah sebelum masak

tapi seorang tanpa rumah masih ingin tinggal
meski tak tahu, masih adakah yang rindu,
masihkah ada yang menunggu?

ia hanya tahua
hidup sesungguhnya sendiri


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November 24, 2008

How to write a literature essay - William Blake series 4

One of William Blake's most famous and most interpreted poems is of course "The Tyger". I have heard that even the Pope, Pope John Paul II, had interpreted and written his literary analysis and his literature analysis of the poem. Here in this literature resource that I am writing today, I have written about William Blake's "The Tyger", and asking about the underlying religious and Christian references. Remember that in any written work or any written analysis, always refer to the essay question. You must try your very best to answer the essay question.

Always remember to write out the essay question in your introduction and frame the question in such a way as to make you able to answer it properly. Then do remember whenever you write your written paper or your essay - answer the essay question in your own words, then write out what you will be talking about in the course of this essay. Note that when you become very good or even become an expert at writing, for Literature, English, Knowledge and Inquiry, General Paper and other subjects, then you can play around and look around to do something new and innovative. Other than that it is not advisable.

Here is the written literary analysis of "The Tyger" by William Blake.

William Blake’s The Tyger: What Was Blake Thinking about God and Creation?

The Tyger

“The Tyger” begins with the speaker asking a tiger what kind of divine being could have created it: “What immortal hand or eye/ Could frame thy fearful symmetry?” There is an air of questioning throughout the poem. Each subsequent stanza contains further questions, all of which refine this first fundamental question. From what part of the universe could the tiger’s fiery eyes have come; who would have dared to handle that; what sort of physical presence, what kind of craftsmanship, would have been required to “twist the sinews” of the tiger's heart? The speaker wonders how, once that heart “began to beat” its creator would have had the courage to continue. With the image of a blacksmith, the speaker thinks of the “anvil” and “furnace” that creation would have required and the blacksmith who yielded it. And when the tiger was completed, the speaker wonders how its creator would have felt. This is the summary of “The Tyger”, but the analytical question is: what is the underlying and deeper meaning in relation to creation and to God? Perhaps there is no real simple and obvious answer to: “What was Blake thinking about God and creation?” This analysis delves into the deeper meaning of the poem, its literary beauty, and aims to determine what Blake might have wanted to say about creation, God, and ultimately, Christianity.

Firstly, the poem comprises six quatrains in rhymed couplets, where the meter is rhythmic and regular, and its repetitive hammering rhythm is suggestive of the blacksmith hammering away and creating the tiger that is the poem’s central image. The alliteration of the hard consonant sounds also capture attention, as the “Tyger, Tyger”, “burning bright” and hard “d” sounds throughout the poem focus the readers on the substantive matter of the poetry, which suggests a hard and harsh underlying interpretation of the truth about creation. The simplicity and neatness of the poem’s regular form perfectly suit its uniform structure, in which all the questions contribute to the articulation of a single central idea.

The opening question develops the drama of the exciting poem, and each subsequent stanza elaborates: Blake builds on the conventional idea that nature, like art, must in some way contain a reflection of its creator. The tiger is naturally beautiful yet simultaneously horrific in its violence and inclinations. What kind of a God or Creator, then, could or would design such a “contradictory” beast? In more general terms, what does the undeniable existence of evil and violence in the world tell us about the nature of God, and what does it mean when a living creature can at once contain both beauty and horror? This is perhaps the key to understanding the poem fully: that it is an exploration of the age-old and common philosophical “problem of evil”. The tiger initially appears as an exciting and sensuous image, but as the poem progresses it takes on a symbolic character, embodying the spiritual and moral problem which the poem explores: beautiful yet destructive, the tiger becomes the symbol for an investigation into the presence of evil in the world. Since the tiger exists both in “physical” and “moral” terms, the speaker’s questions about its origins must also encompass both those physical and moral dimensions. The poem’s questions repeatedly ask what sort of physical creative being could create that “fearful symmetry” of a tiger; assumedly only a very strong, powerful being could be capable of such a beautiful yet terrible creation.

There appears superficially to be a key theme of fire in the poem. “The Tyger” is “burning bright” - a first and obvious reference to fire that is a constant recurring theme in the poem. “Burnt the fire of thine eyes?” reflects the image of fire once again. Perhaps that can be regarded as an interesting reference to Heaven and Hell and continuing the doubts raised regarding the creation of such a beast from the question posed in the first stanza. More than simple speculation, the fire is indeed needed for the poem in order to suggest a forging of the tiger, with all its concomitant imagery.

The “forging” of the tiger suggests a physical, laborious and deliberate kind of creation; it emphasizes the awesome physical build and nature of the tiger, and therefore precludes the idea that such a creation could have been accidentally or haphazardly produced. Clearly Blake was not a fond supporter of evolutionary theory, as his idea smacks somewhat of creationism and intelligent design. The forging of the creature comes with the imagery of fire, with its own simultaneous connotations of creation in fire, purification with fire, and destruction due to fire. The speaker stands in awe of the tiger as a physical and aesthetic achievement, as he also recoils in possible horror from the moral implications of such a creation; the poem addresses the moral question of who could make such a creature. In the third stanza, one observes the parallelism of “shoulder” and “art” as well as the fact that it is not just the body but also the “heart”, metaphorical and literal, of the tiger that is being forged, suggesting that the creator was indeed responsible for the tiger’s vicious and terrible nature. The repeated word “dare” to replace the “could” of the first stanza introduces an important element of aspiration, willingness and wilfulness into the creative act.

Using another perspective, an alternative view may be suggested. “What the hand, dare seize the fire” suggests perhaps a shift in the poem from a wilful God who created an awesome yet fear-inducing creature – the shift to the courage of creation is another possible interpretation. In other words, God is courageous to create the tiger. The creation metaphor completes its passage because all the elements of creation in the forge have been contemplated: the “furnace”, the tools, the hammer, the chain and the “anvil” all reflect and augment the physical strength and courage of the smith. In the line “Dare its deadly terrors clasp”, the word “dare” reappears and perhaps the idea of a courageous, rather than simply a capable, Creator is developed. Perhaps there is further depth than simply the creation of evil by God as Creator. Indeed, the poem reaches the heart of the most troubling issue that racks theologians and philosophers alike. How can a benevolent God allow, for example, the death of an innocent child through famine or malnutrition or war? Clearly the idea of the “problem of evil” is central to the poem, no matter the interpretation of the lines. The change in the poem from simply a capable creator to a brave creator possibly suggests that Blake saw a necessity for balance in the world.

In addition, the reference to the lamb in the second-last stanza reminds the reader that both the tiger and the lamb have been created by the very same God, and raises questions about the implications of this “fact”. “The Tyger” consists entirely of unanswered questions, unlike “The Lamb”, where the answers are clear and rather dogmatic-sounding, and the speaker leaves us here to stare at the complexity of creation, the magnitude of God's power, and the inscrutability of His will. This poem involves an acknowledgment of what is unexplainable in the universe, presenting evil as something that cannot be denied. The open awe of “The Tyger” contrasts with the easy confidence and facile answers in “The Lamb”, of a child’s innocent faith in a benevolent and omnipotent Creator. In conclusion, there can be no easy answers. It is easy to say that Blake was thinking of the “problem of evil” and about the apparent contradiction of a God who could create both beauty and terrifying horror in one creature, but beyond that this poem is far more complex philosophically, beyond words in its recognition of contradictions.


Blake, William, David Erdman and Harold Bloom. The Complete Poetry and Prose of William Blake. California: University of California Press 1982.

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November 22, 2008

How to write a literature essay - William Blake series 3

Here is my third post on the English Language Resources Online blog for William Blake poetry specifically, in my series on Blake. In my earlier posts, I compared and contrasted poems for Blake (in a compare and contrast essay) and I also wrote about religious images and references in Blake's poetry.

This is another William Blake literary analysis sample essay for your learning, education and information. You can get a better understanding of the poem as well as a better understanding of how to write a good literature essay, if you follow the blue instructions within the essay and ask yourself questions about how to improve your writing and your literary style consistently. Have a good look at the essay here below and remember to bear the essay title in mind as you read the essay. Also, a very important essay writing tip to bear in mind here is that: every time you write an essay for an examination or a test or an essay deadline, be sure to bear the question always in mind and focus on answering the question.

William Blake’s A Cradle Song: Is This Poem Truly a Cradle Song?

The question is: is William Blake's poem "A Cradle Song" really just about a cradle? You can see here in this essay that the question is asking for you to dispute and/ or prove that the above statement is true.

William Blake’s poem, “A Cradle Song”, is delightfully ambiguous and multifaceted. On first glance, one might be immediately tempted to simplistically and superficially say that this is just a poem about a little baby going to sleep, or that this poem is simply as the title banally suggests, a song sung merely for a baby to sleep. However, on deeper analysis, the question is: is this poem truly just a cradle song? This question suggests that this song is not what it appears to be, in the sense that it is not just merely a song to send little babies to sleep, but that it is a philosophical stance of what is wrong with the world, and that sleep brings some sort of respite, escapism perhaps, as represented by a sleeping baby in an apostrophe, and that the title masks the true underlying poignancy of the poem. Yes, on the one hand, the song is ostensibly merely about a speaker singing a little baby to sleep; on the other hand, the reality is that this poem is about a philosophy of life, and has a take on sleeping and its relationship with escapism and happiness. This analysis will look at the second possibility in greater depth than the first.

After telling your readers what the poem is about and what you are going to tell them, then do tell the readers in the course of the body of the essay what you promised them in the introduction of the essay.

The poem opens with the sibilance and alliteration of “sleep, sleep, beauty bright”, where the word “bright” seems rather ironic given that night is supposed to be dark, and conjures up a conflicting image. Perhaps Blake intended that the baby is the one both beautiful and bright, which he later intends to contrast with the harsh reality of the world. Yet the positive aspects of sleep are definitely highlighted as the alliteration of “beauty bright” accentuates a certain beauty of sleep, and a beauty of night. “Dreaming in the joys of night” suggests clearly a baby sleeping happily and joyfully in the night, with sweet dreams. Yet, at the same time, there is a sinister “little sorrows sit and weep”, where there are some sad happenings personified to be crying. Perhaps, this can be seen easily as the child not feeling any sorrow when it is asleep, but at the same time, it could simultaneously mean that sleep can also be the residence of those sorrows. There is therefore an ambivalent ambiguity here. This does not set the tone for the rest of the poem, but the atmosphere is immediately seen to be not really just a cradle song, but a song with some melancholy underlying it, conveying a deeper message.

The speaker beholds the baby and addresses it with tender care: “Sweet babe, in thy face/ Soft desires I can trace” clearly shows tenderness and love, just like any parent would do while singing a lullaby to a loved baby, where the title “Cradle Song” is actually justified, as the speaker sings to the baby lovingly. “Secret joys and secret smiles/ Little pretty infant wiles” have many meanings, but the repetition of the word “secret” and the words “little pretty… wiles” suggest that the baby is dreaming of things that secretly make it happy. The word “wiles” is interesting, as it can mean both charm and tricks, where on the one hand, there is a feeling where the baby is charmed by all sorts of beautiful things, perhaps, and on the other hand, the little baby might be imagining all sorts of cunning tricks that he would love to do. Nonetheless there is definitely a positive image here that contrasts starkly with the earlier stanza.

The speaker sees that “Smiles as of the morning steal/ O'er thy cheek” and this could immediately conjure up the image of a smiling baby in its delightful sleep, or the word “steal” could suggest something more sinister. There is a sense that the little baby has stolen some respite from the sad and harsh world in its sleep, where the extended meaning is perhaps that the world is a harsh place and only in sleep is there true respite, even for a little baby. The phrase “thy little heart doth rest” does imply that the poem is a cradle song and is intended for a little baby, but at the same time, there is a sense of resting from the cares of the world, as suggested by the word “heart”. Hence, the literary evidence seems to be piling up in favour of this poem being more than just a mere song.

Therefore, the meaning of the last stanza actually becomes clear: “O the cunning wiles that creep/ In thy little heart asleep!” is an interesting exclamation where the speaker sees the subconscious happiness of the little baby sleeping coming through as the baby sleeps. This clearly means that sleeping is preferable to being awake, because of the happiness and pleasure that somehow fills the baby as it peacefully slumbers. The final two lines corroborate this idea strongly: “When thy little heart doth wake/ Then the dreadful light shall break”. The waking of the little baby brings about some bad thing, because the word “dreadful” is a negative word with negative connotations, and the word “break” is negative as well, suggesting something discontinued abruptly or destroyed, where on the one hand, the coming of the light is the superficial meaning, and on the other, the light of daybreak is not something to celebrate and be happy about, but an abrupt return to sad reality. Hence, the meaning of the poem, built slowly, line by line, suggests that this is indeed a cradle song sung to babies, as perhaps a form of lullaby, but the deeper underlying meaning is that real happiness and pleasure comes from sleeping where there are no worldly cares, for once daybreak comes, reality comes back.

Reiterate the question and the answer. In the terminology of my English Language Resources Online blog, you ask the Knowledge Based Problem and then answer it via the Thesis. You can go back here to the earlier article on how to write an excellent essay via structure to refresh your memory if you like. Here you summarise and then conclude, and hence that is why this is called the conclusion of the essay.
Is this poem just a cradle song? No, it is far more than merely that – it is a cradle song that actually speaks of the inherent sadness and melancholy in the wider world that can only be avoided and escaped from by the beautiful happiness that comes from night. It is a sombre and darkly philosophical topic for a cradle song.

As usual, either you have a bibliography in your essay and writing (writing a major paper, writing for A levels and writing for university), or you do not have a bibliography in your essay and writing because it is not required ( as in during an examination, informal work, non cited work, etc).


Blake, William, David Erdman and Harold Bloom. The Complete Poetry and Prose of William Blake. California: University of California Press 1982.

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November 20, 2008

How to write a literature essay - William Blake series 2

Here is the second post on the William Blake series in my English Language Resources Online blog. This English Language Resources blog can also help you in your revision if you are doing Literature at "O" or "A" levels or even if you merely have an interest in either writing good literature essays or poetry. Note that the blog is not just about William Blake, and in the sidebar on the right you can see the other poets and other topics relating to general knowledge, literature, history, the history of ideas, and philosophy as well.

In the other earlier post on Blake, I compared and contrasted two poems in my essay. There are many types of essays for literature, and the comparison essay is a major type of essay that you need to know about. In this essay here, I analyse instead images and religious references, as these two are key elements in understanding Blake's literature. Remember to ask questions about the essay and think about how you can improve on my writing.

William Blake’s The Lamb: Religious References and Imagery

"The Lamb" from "Songs of Innocence" is a very symbolic poem. This paper discusses the religious references and imagery that permeate the entire poem and give it its key meaning and essence, because, while apparently a simple Christian poem that is easy to understand and simple in meaning, “The Lamb” has deeper philosophical issues embedded into its structure and symbolism. One can look at the symbols, the structure, the questioning that the little child-speaker uses in the poem, and the answer that he offers for the very difficult and philosophical question and answer of life’s origins.

Firstly, what are the obvious symbols in the poem? The “little lamb” in the poem can superficially and obviously symbolize innocence, childhood, serenity, Jesus, or even a sacrifice, and these are images and devices that are associated exclusively with Christianity. A lamb is a gentle and meek creature that is submissive, and in many ways a lamb is very much like a child. In this poem, the lamb being spoken to can be interpreted literally as a real lamb that the child-speaker is addressing, and simultaneously also be taken to be the symbol of Jesus, because the traditional image of Jesus as a lamb underscores the Christian values of gentleness, meekness, and peace. These are also the very same characteristics from which the child-speaker approaches the ideas of nature and of God, as can be seen in the words “tender”, “rejoice” and the alliterative “meek” and “mild”. These words suggest that both the child and the lamb are gentle, and bring forth the imagery of Jesus and Christianity. In addition, the image of the child, the speaker himself, is also associated with Jesus: in the biblical Gospels, Jesus displays a special care and concern for children, and the Bible's depiction of Jesus in his infancy shows him as vulnerable. Hence, once again, there is an interrelationship between the child-speaker and the lamb, as both of them are very similar, according to Christian belief.

Secondly, how does the structure of the poem contribute to its religious appearance and form? "The Lamb" has two stanzas, each with five rhymed couplets, giving the poem a sense of connectedness, eloquence and fluidity, like a kind of gentle prayer or some chanting. Thus the poet creates a child-like tone through a very song-like form and structure; repetition in the first and last couplet of each stanza makes these lines into a refrain, and helps to give the poem its song-like quality. “Little lamb, who made thee?/ Does thou know who made thee” and “Little lamb, I'll tell thee;/ Little lamb, I'll tell thee” make the poem sound like a song, because of the consistent and lyrical repetition of the phrases. At the same time, the flowing “l’s” and soft vowel sounds contribute to this effect, and further suggest the gentle bleating of a lamb or the soft-spoken character of a little child's chanting or singing. Through the use of apostrophe, where the speaker addresses the lamb which is present and central to the story but not literally within the poem, but instead outside of it, Blake actually attributes human qualities to a lamb, the lamb being the listener and the child being the speaker. Perhaps the lamb can also be considered human, like another little child, even. Once again, throughout the entire poem the lamb and the child are interchangeable, the child is a lamb, yet the lamb is a child. Yet at the same time, “I a child, and thou a lamb/ We are called by His name” suggests clearly that there is a distinction between the child and the lamb, and that the child is cognisant of the fact that he is distinct from the lamb, despite having the same Creator. Hence there is some ambiguity and ambivalence, which characterise William Blake’s poetry. In any case, the poem is thus clearly a child's song, in the form of a question and answer, where the first stanza is where the child asks the lamb about its origins, and the second stanza is where the child tells the lamb the answer, according to his innocent Christian beliefs.

What, then, does the questioning do? The poem actually begins with the immediate and direct question, "Little Lamb, who made thee?" The speaker, a child, asks the lamb about its origins: how it came into being, how it attained its own manner of feeding, its "clothing" made of wool, and its "tender voice", basically rhetorically asking how the lamb got all its beautiful qualities. The child's question is simultaneously both naive and deeply, philosophically profound. The question "who made thee" is a simple one, and yet the child is asking the deep and timeless questions that all human beings have about their own origins and creation. At the same time, the poem's apostrophic form contributes in a sense to an effect of naiveté, since the situation of a child talking to an animal is a believable one, and conjures up very innocent images. What this does is it gives the poem an innocent view in the first stanza, and sets up the answer for the second stanza.

Finally, what are the implications of the answer, and the religious, theological imagery of the answer that the child gives? In the second stanza, the child-speaker attempts an answer to his own question: the lamb was made by one who "calls himself a Lamb," one who resembles in his gentleness both the child and the lamb – in other words, Jesus. It immediately shows the whole connectedness of all things: the creator, the lamb, Jesus, through the use of the extended metaphor. The three lines “He became a little child/ I a child, and thou a lamb,/ We are called by His name” connects the three, child, Jesus and lamb, because it suggests that Jesus was born as a little child, just like the speaker, and the fact that both child and lamb are called by His name links them all together. The child-speaker tells the lamb, which could even come across as a rapt, attentive little child, how Jesus was just like a lamb, using symbolic language, comparing Jesus to a child. This creates a connection once again, as a child is like a lamb, and Jesus is like a child. Yet, at the same time, by answering his own question, the child converts his important question into a rhetorical one, thus counteracting the initial spontaneity of the poem. The child's answer, however, reveals his confidence in his simple Christian faith and his innocent acceptance of its teachings. One the one hand, this can be interpreted as Blake’s interpretation of Christianity; on the other, it is equally valid that this is only how little children perceive Christianity, and that Christianity may be something else altogether.

In conclusion, the symbols, the structure, the questioning and the answer given all contribute to a unified sense of the poem, where “The Lamb” is a Christian poem that is completely self-contained and portrays conventional Christian images and values as beautiful and innocent, answering a little child’s actually very difficult and very philosophical question of where we come from. It is not simple at all, for the richness and varied interpretations of the child, the lamb and Jesus, reflect conventional Christianity while at the same time showing a little child’s weltanschauung of Jesus, very philosophical indeed.

Note that for O level literature or any written examination, your essay does not need a bibliography; but if you are doing A levels or higher level literature or essay writing in particular, you will need a citations section/ works cited section/ bibliography for each and every one of your written essays.


Blake, William, David Erdman and Harold Bloom. The Complete Poetry and Prose of William Blake. California: University of California Press 1982.

All the essays on this English Language Resources Online blog are written by or edited or collected and vetted by Shawn Seah and are NOT for sale and NOT for distribution. They are for educational and reference purposes only.

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November 18, 2008

How to write a literature essay - William Blake series 1

Before I begin, I would like to reiterate that this is NOT an essay selling website, and these essays that I write here on this blog are NOT for distribution. These articles and essays and samples here on my English Language Resources Online blog are for your own personal education and personal viewing only and are not for distribution or sales. So that it is clear and on the record, I do not sell any of my essays here on this site, and I do not distribute literature essays. I am here to provide educational resources and share my ideas and works for your education and not for anyone to cheat on examinations or to cheat for assignments. You may use my literature essays for your own personal learning. Learn English and learn Literature here on this blog - all the resources and literature essays are here for you.

The next few posts here on this English language resources online blog will be about William Blake and how to write literature essays with William Blake as a focus. Many literature essays around the world deal with Blake because he is famous and popular anyways. Romanticism, literary analysis, comparisons of various romantic poems and the like will be all part of the course.

As an aside, Knowledge and Inquiry students in Singapore taking KI as a subject may not necessarily need a knowledge of literature, but knowing about it and how to write an essay will be invaluable skills in the repertoire. Learning how to write a literature essay will be just as useful as learning how to write essays in general. All these materials and ideas on how to write good essays are available on my blog, with its resources on essays and sample essays.

In any case, here is a sample literature essay on William Blake. I have broken it up into parts to show that these are for your education.

William Blake’s The Human Abstract:
Comparison and Contrast: A Critique of “The Divine Image”?

This is how you write an introduction, and introduce the theme(s) and the question and the answer:

“The Human Abstract” offers an alternative analysis of the virtues of Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love that constituted God and Man in "The Divine Image”, and can be thus considered a companion poem. The speaker argues that Pity could not exist without poverty, and that Mercy would be unnecessary if everyone were happy, and that Peace derives from fear, which gives rise to “selfish loves”. Cruelty personified plants and waters a tree in “the human Brain”, and utilising and expanding on this gardening or tree metaphor, the roots of the tree are “Humility”, the leaves are “Mystery”, and the fruit is “Deceit”, thus suggesting that negative human characteristics actually stem from originally valuable, noble virtues. On the other hand, it could be said that Blake’s “The Divine Image” of “Songs of Innocence” attributes the virtues of Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love to the human form while giving God the glory for the creation of humans in His own image. This suggests that the biblical reference of God making man in his image is true, reflected in the last two lines of the poem, "Where Mercy, Love, and Pity dwell/ There God is dwelling too". This analysis will compare and contrast the two poems “The Divine Image” and “The Human Abstract”, and show that this poem is indeed a critique of its companion.

Make your points clear and add literary terms. What else can you see about this paragraph in this essay?

Firstly, the lines of “The Human Abstract” have none of the uplifting and sweet-sounding quality typical of Blake’s poetry; the poem’s didactic, pedagogical tone and serious subject matter occasion the harsh, severe rhythm he employs. By way of contrast, the opening lines of “The Divine Image” are like a hymn or prayer, reflected in the word “pray” and “virtues”, words associated with prayer. The lines “To Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love/ All pray in their distress” introduces the cast of Mercy, Pity, Peace and Love in terms of a prayer, which are virtues that are personified and imbued with lifelike qualities and characteristics. By returning “their thankfulness” in prayer to these four anthropomorphic characters, it is acknowledged that these virtues are important in human existence.

Doing the same as for the previous paragraph, ask yourself questions about the paragraph in this essay and how it relates to the essay theme.

Secondly, in general “The Human Abstract” preaches that the traditional Christian virtues of mercy and pity presuppose and depend on a world of poverty and human suffering. Furthermore, these virtues represent a kind of passive, useless, resigned sympathy or resignation that suggests no obligation to alleviate or ameliorate that suffering or to create a more just and fair world. The speaker in “The Human Abstract” therefore refuses to think of them as ideals, suggesting and reasoning logically that in an ideal world of universal happiness and genuine love there would be no need of these qualities. This seemingly cynical approach is quite unlike “The Divine Image” where “Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love/ Is God our Father dear” can be seen immediately as four ideal virtues belonging to God the Almighty Father. It is suggested that these qualities are from God and thus that makes the world a good, just and fair world. The phrase “and Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love/ Is man, His child and care” also suggests that God loves mankind and has these virtues to protect His children and to care for them, and does not have the negative worldview or weltanschauung present in “The Human Abstract”.

Doing the same as for the previous paragraph, ask yourself questions about the paragraph in this essay and how it relates to the essay theme.

Furthermore, “The Human Abstract” is a methodical critique of the key and important virtues that were so praised in “The Divine Image”. Proceeding through Pity, Mercy, and Peace, the poem then arrives at the phrase “selfish loves”, where the word “selfish” conjures up negativism. These clearly differ from Love as an innocent abstraction, and the poem thus explores the growth, at once insidious and simultaneously organic, of a system of values based on stagnation, repression, hypocrisy and fear. This is rather unlike “The Divine Image” which suggests a rather more positive tone with respect to Pity, Mercy and Peace. “For Mercy has a human heart/ Pity, a human face” has a tone that suggests that man is so similar to God, and carries a positive connotation. “And Love, the human form divine/ And Peace the human dress” further show that there is little similarity with fear, hypocrisy, repression or stagnation, as love and peace are divine and provide protection in the form of dressing. “Where Mercy, Love, and Pity dwell/ There God is dwelling too” from a Christian perspective means that God dwells in the heart of men, whenever one can see the virtues of Mercy, Love and Pity. Furthermore, the line “and all must love the human form/ In heathen, Turk, or Jew” can be taken to mean that all heathens, Turks or Jews, meaning all pagans, Muslims or Hebrews, are just as human and have human virtues like everyone else. Clearly there is a more negative atmosphere and negative connotations in “The Human Abstract” vis-à-vis the more positive “The Divine Image”.

Doing the same as for the previous paragraph, ask yourself questions about the paragraph in this essay and how it relates to the essay theme.

The description and extended metaphor of the tree in the second part of “The Human Abstract” shows how intellectualized and apparently academic values like Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love become a breeding-ground for “Cruelty”. The speaker depicts Cruelty as a conniving and knowing anthropomorphic person; in planting a tree, he also lays a snare. This personification allows the poem to express further ideas: Cruelty’s tree flourishes on fear and weeping; “Humility” is its root, where the real meaning of humility has been soundly distorted, “Mystery” its foliage; but this growth is not natural or even desired. Rather, the tree is associated with “Deceit”, and its branches harbour the “raven”, an important and common symbol of death. By the end of “The Human Abstract” we realize that the tree’s description is a glimpse into the human mind, and is probably about man’s mental experience, with all the negative items of mystery, deceit and death. Thus the poem comments on the way abstract reasoning and understanding of virtues undermine a more natural system of values. The result is a grotesque resemblance to the organic, real type of values, which brings forth a tree that lies “sequestered” secretly in the “human Brain”. Perhaps it means that all these virtues and ideals actually only exist within the human brain and that Cruelty is inevitably the end result, suggesting a more negative and metaphysical, philosophical ending to the poem. These elements are all missing from “The Divine Image”.

Summarise and conclude the essay!

In summary, “The Human Abstract” differs in tone and atmosphere from its companion poem; this poem preaches that traditional Christian virtues of mercy and pity presuppose a world of poverty and suffering and that these virtues represent a kind of useless resigned sympathy that suggests no obligation to ameliorate suffering, whereas in “The Divine Image”, Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love can be seen as ideal virtues belonging to the Almighty God. In addition, “The Human Abstract” is a critique of the important virtues that were so praised in “The Divine Image”. Analysing Pity, Mercy, and Peace, these clearly differ from Love as an innocent abstraction, and the poem explores the growth, insidious and organic, of a system of values based on fear, hypocrisy, repression, and stagnation. This is unlike “The Divine Image” which suggests a more positive tone with respect to Pity, Mercy and Peace. The extended metaphor of the tree in “The Human Abstract” ultimately shows how intellectualized academic values like Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love become the breeding-ground for “Cruelty”, depicting Cruelty as a conniving anthropomorphic entity; he lays a trap; his tree flourishes on fear; “Humility” is its root, “Mystery” its foliage; this growth is unnatural. Rather, the tree is associated with “Deceit”, and its branches harbour a symbol of death. The tree metaphor is a glimpse into the human mind, where the poem comments on the way abstract reasoning and understanding of such virtues undermines a more natural system of values. In the final analysis, this poem is indeed a critique and re-evaluation of “The Divine Image”. Blake’s poetry is far deeper and philosophical than a mere cursory, peripatetic reading suggests.

All good essays have this at the end - either works cited or a bibliography or both, in the case of some essays.


Blake, William, David Erdman and Harold Bloom. The Complete Poetry and Prose of William Blake. California: University of California Press 1982.

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November 15, 2008

The Elements of Poetry

The Elements of Poetry

By George Santayana

IF poetry in its higher reaches is more philosophical than history, because it presents the memorable types of men and things apart from unmeaning circumstances, so in its primary substance and texture poetry is more philosophical than prose because it is nearer to our immediate experience. Poetry breaks up the trite conceptions designated by current words into the sensuous qualities out of which those conceptions were originally put together. We name what we conceive and believe in, not what we see; things, not images; souls, not voices and silhouettes. This naming, with the whole education of the senses which it accompanies, subserves the uses of life; in order to thread our way through the labyrinth of objects which assault us, we must make a great selection in our sensuous experience; half of what we see and hear we must pass over as insignificant, while we piece out the other half with such an ideal complement as is necessary to turn it into a fixed and well-ordered conception of the world. This labor of perception and understanding, this spelling of the material meaning of experience, is enshrined in our workaday language and ideas; ideas which are literally poetic in the sense that they are “made” (for every conception in an adult mind is a fiction), but which are at the same time prosaic because they are made economically, by abstraction, and for use.

When the child of poetic genius, who has learned this intellectual and utilitarian language in the cradle, goes afield and gathers for himself the aspects of nature, he begins to encumber his mind with the many living impressions which the intellect rejected, and which the language of the intellect can hardly convey; he labors with his nameless burden of perception, and wastes himself in aimless impulses of emotion and reverie, until finally the method of some art offers a vent to his inspiration, or to such part of it as can survive the test of time and the discipline of expression.

The poet retains by nature the innocence of the eye, or recovers it easily; he disintegrates the fictions of common perception into their sensuous elements, gathers these together again into chance groups as the accidents of his environment or the affinities of his temperament may conjoin them; and this wealth of sensation and this freedom of fancy, which make an extraordinary ferment in his ignorant heart, presently bubble over into some kind of utterance.

The fullness and sensuousness of such effusions bring them nearer to our actual perceptions than common discourse could come; yet they may easily seem remote, overloaded, and obscure to those accustomed to think entirely in symbols, and never to be interrupted in the algebraic rapidity of their thinking by a moment’s pause and examination of heart, nor ever to plunge for a moment into that torrent of sensation and imagery over which the bridge of prosaic associations habitually carries us safe and dry to some conventional act. How slight that bridge commonly is, how much an affair of trestle and wire, we can hardly conceive until we have trained ourselves to an extreme sharpness of introspection. But psychologists have discovered, what laymen generally will confess, that we hurry by the procession of our mental images as we do by the traffic of the street, intent on business, gladly forgetting the noise and movement of the scene, and looking only for the corner we would turn or the door we would enter. Yet in our alertest moment the depths of the soul are still dreaming; the real world stands drawn in bare outline against a background of chaos and unrest. Our logical thoughts dominate experience only as the parallels and meridians make a checkerboard of the sea. They guide our voyage without controlling the waves, which toss forever in spite of our ability to ride over them to our chosen ends. Sanity is a madness put to good uses; waking life is a dream controlled.

Out of the neglected riches of this dream the poet fetches his wares. He dips into the chaos tat underlies the rational shell of the world and brings up some superfluous image, some emotion dropped by the way, and reattaches it to the present object; he reinstates things unnecessary, he emphasizes things ignored, he paints in again into the landscape the tints which the intellect has allowed to fade from it. If he seems sometimes to obscure a fact, it is only because he is restoring an experience. The first element which the intellect rejects in forming its ideas of things is the emotion which accompanies the perception; and this emotion is the first thing the poet restores. He stops at the image, because he stops to enjoy. He wanders into the bypaths of association because the bypaths are delightful. The love of beauty which made him give measure and cadence to his words, the love of harmony which made him rhyme them, reappear in his imagination and make him select there also the material that is itself beautiful, or capable of assuming beautiful forms. The link that binds together the ideas, sometimes so wide apart, which his wit assimilates, is most often the link of emotion; they have in common some element of beauty or of horror.
George Santayana was born in Madrid in 1863, of Spanish parentage. He graduated from Harvard in 1886, and taught philosophy there, 1889–1911. He lives now, I think, in England. I must be frank: except his poems, I only know his work in that enthralling volume, Little Essays Drawn from the Writings of George Santayana, edited by L. Pearsall Smith. Much of it is too esoteric for my grasp, but Mr. Smith’s redaction brings the fascination of Santayana’s philosophy within the compass of what Tennyson called “a second-rate sensitive mind”; and, if mine is a criterion, such will find it of the highest stimulus. This discourse on poetry seems to me one of the most pregnant utterances on the subject. It is not perfectly appreciated by merely one reading; but even if you have to become a poet to enjoy it fully, that will do yourself least harm.

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November 12, 2008

Agus R. Sarjono Poet

Fake Poem

Goodmorning sir, goodmorning madame said the students
with a fake greeting. They studied
fake history from fake textbooks. Having finished their studies
they were dumbfounded at the mass of fake marks.
Since their school grades weren’t good enough
they went to their teachers houses to present them
with envelopes full of comments and fake respect.
With fake smiles and making fake rejections
their teachers finally accepted the envelopes with the fake promise
to change the fake marks for new fake marks. Many schooldays
later they became fake economists, fake lawyers,
fake farmers, fake engineers.
Some of them became fake teachers, scientists
or artists. They plunged eagerly
into the middle of fake development
with fake economy as fake leaders. They witnessed the hectic
fake trade with fake export and fake import
which provided various goods of fake quality.
And fake banks full enthusiasm offered fake bonuses
and fake gifts, but at the same time with fake permits
and fake letters secretly asked for loans
from the national bank, run by fake high officials.
The public did business with fake money
supported by fake foreign exchange.
Therefore the foreign currencies, stimulated by fake rates
caused everybody to panic and end in a crisis
which made the fake government
crash into a fake fate. And fake people
cried out their fake joy and discussed
fake ideas during fake seminars and talk shows
welcomed loudly the start of a democracy
and fake.


translation by Linde Voûte

Sajak Palsu

Selamat pagi pak, selamat pagi bu, ucap anak sekolah
dengan sapaan palsu. Lalu merekapun belajar
sejarah palsu dari buku-buku palsu. Di akhir sekolah
mereka terperangah melihat hamparan nilai mereka
yang palsu. Karena tak cukup nilai,
maka berdatanganlah mereka ke rumah-rumah
bapak dan ibu guru untuk menyerahkan amplop
berisi perhatian dan rasa hormat palsu.
Sambil tersipu palsu dan membuat tolakan
tolakan palsu, akhirnya pak guru dan bu guru
terima juga amplop itu sambil berjanji palsu
untuk mengubah nilai-nilai palsu dengan
nilai-nilai palsu yang baru. Masa sekolah
demi masa sekolah berlalu, merekapun lahir
sebagai ekonom-ekonom palsu, ahli hukum palsu,
ahli pertanian palsu, insinyur palsu.
Sebagian menjadi guru, ilmuwan
atau seniman palsu. Dengan gairah tinggi
mereka menghambur ke tengah pembangunan
palsu dengan ekonomi palsu sebagai panglima
palsu. Mereka saksikan ramainya
perniagaan palsu dengan ekspor
dan impor palsu yang mengirim dan mendatangkan
berbagai barang kelontong kualitas palsu.
Dan bank-bank palsu dengan giat
menawarkan bonus dan hadiah-hadiah palsu
tapi diam-diam meminjam juga pinjaman
dengan ijin dan surat palsu kepada bank negeri
yang dijaga pejabat-pejabat palsu. Masyarakatpun berniaga
dengan uang palsu yang dijamin
devisa palsu. Maka uang-uang asing
menggertak dengan kurs palsu
sehingga semua blingsatan dan terperosok krisis
yang meruntuhkan pemerintahan palsu
ke dalam nasib buruk palsu. Lalu orang-orang palsu
meneriakkan kegembiraan palsu dan mendebatkan
gagasan-gagasan palsu di tengah seminar
dan dialog-dialog palsu menyambut tibanya
demokrasi palsu yang berkibar-kibar
begitu nyaring
dan palsu.


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November 04, 2008

The Elements of Fiction

Plot, Setting, Character, Conflict, Symbol, and Point of View are the main elements which fiction writers use to develop a story and its Theme.

Because literature is an art and not a science, it is impossible to specifically quantify any of these elements within any story or to guarantee that each will be present in any given story. Setting might be the most important element in one and almost nonexistent in another.

Just as a Crime Scene Investigator cannot approach a crime scene looking for a specific clue (e. g., shell casings), you as a reader cannot approach a story deciding to look for a specific element, such as Symbol. To assume could blind you to important elements. Both the CSI team and you must examine the entire “area” carefully to determine what is present and how it is important.

With that understanding, let’s examine the elements.


Literature teachers sometimes give the impression that plot is not important, that anyone interested in plot is an immature reader.

Of course plot is important. It was what got us interested in reading in the first place. It was the carrot on the string that pulled us through a story as we wanted to see what would happen next.

That said, let me emphasize that plot is rarely the most important element of a good story. As much as I’ve always loved surprise endings, if the only thing a film or a story has is a great twist ending, it doesn’t have anything on a second look.

And it’s worth noting that recent fiction and film have deemphasized plot, frequently stressing character or conflict for example. In film, for example, think David Lynch or Pulp Fiction.


Stories actually have two types of setting: Physical and Chronological.

The physical setting is of course where the story takes place. The “where” can be very general—a small farming community, for example—or very specific—a two story white frame house at 739 Hill Street in Scott City, Missouri.

Likewise, the chronological setting, the “when,” can be equally general or specific.

The author’s choices are important. Shirley Jackson gives virtually no clues as to where or when her story “The Lottery” is set. Examination suggests that she wants the story to be universal, not limited by time or place. The first two stories you will read each establish a fairly specific physical setting; consider what each setting brings to each story.


What type of individuals are the main characters? Brave, cowardly, bored, obnoxious? If you tell me that the protagonist (main character) is brave, you should be able to tell where in the story you got that perception.

In literature, as in real life, we can evaluate character three ways: what the individual says, what the individual does, and what others say about him or her.


Two types of conflict are possible: External and Internal.

External conflict could be man against nature (people in a small lifeboat on a rough ocean) or man against man.

While internal conflict might not seem as exciting as external, remember that real life has far more internal than external conflict.

Film and fiction emphasize external conflict not simply because “it’s more interesting” but also because it’s easier to write. In a film script, you merely have to write “A five minute car chase follows” and you’ve filled five minutes. How long would it take to write five minutes worth of dialogue?


Don’t get bent out of shape about symbols. Simply put, a symbol is something which means something else. Frequently it’s a tangible physical thing which symbolizes something intangible. The Seven/Eleven stores understood that a few years ago when they were selling roses with a sign saying, “A Rose Means ‘I Love You.’”

The basic point of a story or a poem rarely depends solely on understanding a symbol. However important or interesting they might be, symbols are usually “frosting,” things which add interest or depth.

It’s normal for you to be skeptical about symbols. If I tell you that the tree in a certain story symbolizes the Garden of Eden, you may ask “Is that really there or did you make it up?” or “How do you know what the author meant?”

Literature teachers may indeed “over-interpret” at times, find symbols that really aren’t there. But if you don’t occasionally chase white rabbits that aren’t there, you’ll rarely find the ones that are there.

In the film 2001, a computer named HAL is controlling a flight to Jupiter. When the human crew decides to abort the mission, HAL—programmed to guarantee the success of the mission—“logically” begins to kill off the humans. Science fiction’s oldest theme: man develops a technology which he not only cannot control, it controls him.

Consider HAL’s name. Add one letter to each of the letters in his name. Change the H to I, the A to B, and the L to M. When you realize how close HAL is to IBM, the first response is disbelief. But clearly the closeness of the names is either an absolute accident or an intentional choice. As much as we are startled by the latter, we probably agree that the odds against the former—it being an accident—are astronomical.


Point of View is the “narrative point of view,” how the story is told—more specifically, who tells it.

There are two distinctly different types of point of view and each of those two types has two variations.

In the First Person point of view, the story is told by a character within the story, a character using the first person pronoun, I.

If the narrator is the main character, the point of view is first person protagonist. Mark Twain lets Huck Finn narrate his own story in this point of view.

If the narrator is a secondary character, the point of view is first person observer. Arthur Conan Doyle lets Sherlock Holmes’ friend Dr. Watson tell the Sherlock Holmes story. Doyle frequently gets credit for telling detective stories this way, but Edgar Allan Poe perfected the technique half a century earlier.

In the Third Person point of view, the story is not told by a character but by an “invisible author,” using the third person pronoun (he, she, or it) to tell the story. Instead of Huck Finn speaking directly to us, “My name’s Huckleberry Finn” and telling us “I killed a pig and spread the blood around so people would think I’d been killed”, the third person narrator would say: He killed a pig and spread the blood…..

If the third person narrator gives us the thoughts of characters (He wondered where he’d lost his baseball glove), then he is a third person omniscient (all knowing) narrator.

If the third person narrator only gives us information which could be recorded by a camera and microphone (no thoughts), then he is a third person dramatic narrator.

In summary, then, here are the types of point of view:

First Person Narrator



Third Person Narrator



Different points of view can emphasize different things. A first person protagonist narrator would give us access to the thoughts of the main character. If the author doesn’t want us to have that access, he could use the first person observer, for example, or the third person dramatic.


Theme isn’t so much an element of fiction as much as the result of the entire story. The theme is the main idea the writer of the poem or story wants the reader to understand and remember.

You may have used the word “Moral” in discussing theme; but it’s not a good synonym because “moral” implies a positive meaning or idea. And not all themes are positive.

One word—love, for example—may be a topic; but it cannot be a theme.

A theme is a statement about a topic.

For example: “The theme of the story is that love is the most important thing in the world.” That’s a cliché, of course, but it is a theme.

Not all stories or poems (or films) have an overriding “universal” theme.

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