CLASS: SENIOR SIX
TABLE OF CONTENTS
UNIT I: EUROPEAN LITERARY TRADITIONS
UNIT II: STRUCTURE IN MODERN PROSE
UNIT III: ELEGY AND EPITAPH
UNIT IV: LIMERICKS- RHYTHM AND RHYME
UNIT V: FREE VERSE
UNIT VI: THEATRE OF THE ABSURD
UNIT VII: RADIO AND TELEVISION DRAMA
UNIT VIII: PERFORMING DRAMA
UNIT III: ELEGY AND EPITAPH
Etymologically the term elegy derived from the Greek word “elegus” which means a song of bereavement sung along with a flute. In literature, an elegy is a poem of serious reflection, which typically mourns the loss of someone who has died or something that has been deteriorated
Elegy can also be explained as:
- a mournful or plaintive poem; a funeral song; a lament for the dead, or a poem of lamentation.
- a serious poem, typically on the subject of mourning the deceased
- a sad poem, usually written to praise and express sorrow for someone who is dead.
O Captain! My Captain! By Walt Whitman
O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done,
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won,
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring;
But O heart! heart! heart!
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.
O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle trills,
For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths—for you the shores a-crowding,
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
Here Captain! dear father!
This arm beneath your head!
It is some dream that on the deck,
You’ve fallen cold and dead.
My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still,
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will,
The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done,
From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won;
Exult O shores, and ring O bells!
But I with mournful tread,
Walk the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.
(“O Captain! My Captain!” by Walt Whitman, 1891)
Oh Captain, my Captain! Our hard journey is over. The ship has survived every storm, and we’ve won the prize we’ve been fighting for. The port is close by and I hear bells ringing and people celebrating. All their eyes are on the steady ship, that bold and brave vessel. But oh, my heart! heart! heart! Oh, look at the drops of blood on the deck where my captain is lying cold and dead.
Oh Captain, my Captain! Get up and listen to the bells. Get up—they’re waving the flag for you—they’re playing the bugle for you. They’ve brought bouquets and wreaths with ribbons for you—all these people are crowding on the shore for you.
The swaying crowd is calling for you, and all the people’s eager faces turning towards you. Here Captain! My dear father! I’ll put my arm under your head. I must be dreaming that on the deck, you’re lying cold and dead.
My Captain isn’t answering me. His lips are pale and unmoving. My father doesn’t feel my arm beneath his head, since he has no pulse or consciousness. The ship has anchored safely, and its journey is over. After this hard journey, the victorious ship has returned with its prize. Let the crowds celebrate and the bells ring! Meanwhile I, slowly and sadly, walk across the deck where my Captain is lying cold and dead.
“O Captain! My Captain!” is an elegy written by Walt Whitman in 1865 to commemorate the death of President Abraham Lincoln. Walt Whitman was inspired by the events of the American Civil War. The poem captured the mood of a nation in mourning and has remained one of Whitman’s best-loved and most-quoted poems.
The entire poem relies on an extended metaphor. It compares President Lincoln to the captain of a ship—a ship that then becomes a symbol for the United States itself. The speaker asserts that the ship has undergone many trials over the course of its journey, including storms, fighting, and other dangers. This description of a perilous journey is intended to represent the divisive and bloody struggle between the Union and the Confederacy during the American Civil War. The speaker attributes the ship’s safe return to the harbour to the bravery and leadership of the captain, just as many attributed the Union’s victory to the statesmanship of President Lincoln.
Tragically, however, the speaker reveals that the captain lies dead on the deck of the ship while the city rejoices—a metaphor for recent events, since President Lincoln was assassinated in 1865 and was unable to celebrate his victory. In this sense, the ship is a symbol of national unity and perseverance, but becomes a site of loss and tragedy in the poem. The poet has used expressed those feelings in a more melancholic and reflective tone.
An elegy is characterized as follow:
- It is a type of lyric and focuses on expressing emotions or thoughts.
- It uses formal language and structure.
- It may mourn the passing of life and beauty or someone dear to the speaker.
- It may explore questions about nature of life and death or immorality of soul.
- It may express the speaker’s anger about death.
The purpose of this kind of poem is to express feelings rather than tell a story.
An epitaph is from Greek term “epitaphios” which means “a funeral oration.” In literature, it is a short-written tribute in poetry or prose in memory of deceased person.
Epitaph can also be defined as:
- an inscription on a gravestone in memory of the deceased.
- a poem or other short text written in memory of a deceased person.
- it is a short statement about a deceased person, often carved on his/her tombstone.
Epitaphs can be sometimes written by poets or authors themselves before dying.
Ex: –We will never forget you.
-Beloved mother and wife
-Death is the golden key that opens the palace of Eternity.
-He lies here, somewhere.
-Always in our hearts
If you live life right
death is a joke
as far as fear is concerned
Characteristics of epitaph are the following:
- It is a short text honouring a deceased person.
- It is inscribed on a tombstone or plaque
- It may also be used in a figurative sense
- Some epitaphs are specified by the person themselves before their death.
- An epitaph may be written in prose or in poetry.
- Most epitaphs are brief records of the family, and perhaps the career of the deceased.
Epitaphs provide those who have passed with a poetic or memorable inscription for those who visit their graves to remember them by. For those who choose their own epitaphs, it is a way of sending one final and lasting message.
|A mournful or plaintive poem, a funeral song, a poem of lamentation
A poem composed in elegiac couples.
A poem or song composed especially as a lament for a deceased person.
A composition that is melancholy or pensive in tone.
|An inscription on a tombstone or gravestone in memory of the one buried there.
A brief literary piece commemorating a deceased person
A poem or other short text written in memory of deceased person
The tone in the poem is the attitude or feelings of a poet towards the subject matter or the audience. This one helps to create a particular kind of atmosphere or mood in the poem. We use adjectives to describe the tone:
Atmosphere refers to the feeling, emotion, or mood a poet conveys to a reader through the description of setting and objects. It refers to the emotions invoked/applied in the reader as he/she reads a poem. Simply, mood is the feeling the audience gets as they read or listen to a poem.
Although mood and atmosphere are used interchangeably, there is a small difference. Mood is narrow as it concerns with the internal feelings of individual(s), without incorporating the feelings/emotions radiating throughout the venue. On the other hand, atmosphere is usually those feelings/emotions felt by more people or applied to a certain spot or venue.
III.5. POINT OF VIEW
The point of view of a story is defined as the perspective from which a story is told. It is also the angle of considering things, which shows us the opinion or feelings of the individuals involved in a situation.
In literature, point of view is the mode of narration that a poet employs to let the readers “hear” and “see” what takes place in a poem. It refers to the method the poet uses to narrate the poem. Simply, it is who is telling the story.
The speaker of a poem is not identical to the poet. Often the poet creates a persona who speaks in the poem.
There are three kinds of point of view:
The first-person point of view
The poet tells the story from the I, me, we, us perspective. A first-person narrative is a poem writing in which a narrator relays events from his or her own point of view using the first person.
I live to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound
I grant I never saw a goddess go,
My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground.
And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
As any she belied with false compare.
From “My mistress‘s Eyes are nothing like the sun” by William Shakespeare
The second person point of view
It is a type of narration that is told from the you, your perspective. It is not commonly used.
You might come here Sunday on a whim.
Say your life broke down. The last good kiss
you had was years ago. You walk these streets
laid out by the insane, past hotels
The third person point of view
The poem is narrated from a he/she, they or it perspective.
They met by accident
He proposed the idea
She gave her consent
All the way to the altar.
From ‘Outcast’ by G Gathemia
III.6. POETIC DEVICES
Poetic devices are literary techniques that are used in poetry to create sounds and mental pictures within a poem. They make poems pleasant to listen to. Poetic devices that can be used to create rhythm include repetition, syllable variation, and rhyming.
Some of the poetic devices are either used in prose or in poetry and others may appear in both genres. The poet has right to use a diction that fits his objectives.
Metonymy is a poetic device in which a thing or concept is called not by its own name but rather by the name of something associated in the meaning with that thing or concept. Instead of using the actual name of something, we use the name of something else which is closely related to it or which resembles it.
A metonymy is a substitution where a word or phrase is used in place of another word or phrase.
- Pen stands for “the written word.”
- Sword stands for “military aggression.”
- Crown – in place of a royal person
- The White House or The Oval Office – used in place of the President or White House staff
- Suits – in place of business people
- Heart – to refer to love or emotion
- Washington – to refer to the US government
- The big house – to refer to prison
- Silicon Valley – to refer to the technology industry
- Hollywood – to refer to the film industry
- Ears – for giving attention, listening
- Silver fox – for an attractive older man
- Hand – for help
- Tongue – used in place of language.
- Brass – used in place of high-ranking officials
- New blood – used in place of new people, fresh ideas