Sunday, February 3, 2013

The Oak - Tennyson

The Oak
Live thy life,
   Young and old,
Like yon oak,
Bright in spring,
   Living gold;
   Then; and then
   Gold again.
All his leaves
   Fall’n at length,
Look he stands,
Trunk and bough,
   Naked strength.
Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809 – 1892)
Stanza 1 – young and old should live like the oak in springtime … be bright
Stanza 2 – then in summer be rich in life like the full foliage of summertime, followed by the autumn gold but in more sober fashion please
Stanza 3 – then in winter when all foliage is gone be pure naked strength – what is left of you after living a full life – what is spiritually left when all the superficiality falls away?
Looking at the meter …
Iambic = unaccented then accented syllables e.g. today
Trochee = the reverse – e.g. daily
Both iambic and trochee are double meters … each bar is of two syllables
Triple meters involve three syllables to the bar
Anapest = unaccented, unaccented then accented e.g. beauti ful
Dactyl = accented, unaccented then unaccented e.g. sugar loaf
Laurence Perrine in his book Structure Sound and Sense asks whether the double meter for Tennyson’s poem The Oak should be iambic or trochee – or does it matter?
He suggests it is more important to distinguish between double and triple meter.
Gabriel Oak is a famous character in a novel … the name fitting the nature of the character if you excuse the pun.

Here is a link to another Blog Site giving analysis of the above poem.

No comments:

Post a Comment