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How does the poem "The Universe" by May Swenson play on sound effects?

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adelinealberts | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 2, 2008 at 9:43 PM via web

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How does the poem "The Universe" by May Swenson play on sound effects?

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gbeatty | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted October 13, 2008 at 3:51 AM (Answer #1)

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Swenson's poem plays upon sound effects in several ways. First and most simply, Swenson repeats words. This creates a pattern, especially when it is read out loud. Second, she uses words like "within" and "think" that share letter groups ("in"), but which do not rhyme. This creates a tension between sound and appearance on the page, much as there is a tension between appearance and reality in the universe. The repetition of the "what" and the "w" sound creates a rhythm—I hear it like a wave meeting the shore—that reassures even though it asks many questions and creates a questioning tone.

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