What the heck does that mean?' Many people have found themselves asking that question when reading poetry. So in order to help get a general idea of what poems say, it is necessary to look at some examples of poetry and try to decide what, if anything, the poet is trying to say. Three poems, each by a different author, which all basically follow the same theme will be discussed. Each author uses various literary tools, but for now the main focus will be that of meaning. The first poet to be discussed is Shakespeare.
The famous sonnet simply numbered eighteen, Shakespeare appears to writing (speaking) to a woman he is fond of.
Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimmed;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature's changing course,
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest;
Nor shall death brag thou wander'st in his
When in eternal lines to time thou growest:
So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.
In the simplest terms possible, Shakespeare is saying that the woman of whom this poem speaks of is beautiful. But even more than that, the eloquence in which he expresses her beauty demonstrates that Shakespeare loves the woman he is addressing.
In what seems almost a response to Shakespeare's sonnet, Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote a poem titled, 'If Thou Must Love Me, Let It Be For Naught'.
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