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poem helpneed to identify 4 poetic devices for this poem its calls inside the great...

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qudsiasrk | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted June 28, 2011 at 3:49 AM via web

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poem help

need to identify 4 poetic devices for this poem its calls inside the great pyramid by Gwendolyn Macewen and i also need to find the meaning to the poem . am really bad at poetics so need help . 

all day the narrow shaft
received: everyone 
came out sweating and
gasping for air, and one 
old man collapsed
upon a stair

i thought 
the fact that it has stood 
so long 
is no guarantee 
it will stand today. 
but went in anyways. 
and heard when i was 
halfway up a long
low rumbling like 
the echo of ancient stones
first straining to their place 

i though 
we have made this 
we have made this
i scrambled out into 
the scandalous sun and saw 
the desert was an hourglass 
we had forgotten to invert,
a tasseled came falling 
to his knees, the river 
filling the great waterclock of earth

4 Answers | Add Yours

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literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted July 21, 2011 at 8:22 AM (Answer #2)

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This poem contains the following poetic devices:

Personification- The "scandalous sun". The sun cannot be scandalous (people can) AND "ancient stones first straining to their place" (stones don't strain to find their place).

Metaphor- "the desert was an hourglass". This compares the desert to an hourglass.

Simile- "low rumbling like the echo of ancient stones". Compares the rumbling to echo of stones and uses "like" in the comparison.

Repetition: "we have made this". Compounds the feeling of the narrator.

 

 

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litteacher8 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted July 28, 2011 at 4:22 AM (Answer #3)

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The first line "all day the narrow shaft/ received" is personification, because the shaft is being described as a person.  The second part, "everyone/ came out sweating and/gasping for air, and one/old man collapsed/upon a stair" is an example of end rhyme.  There are a lot of sensory details, but "a long/low rumbling like/the echo of ancient stones/first straining to their place" is a simile as well as a description of sound.

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literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted July 28, 2011 at 7:55 AM (Answer #4)

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The poem reminds me of the language used by the Naturalistic writer Emile Zola. In his novel Germinal, Zola's language is mirrored by this poem. Personification is heavily used in Zola's work, and this poem is also heavily laced with it as well.

The poem also speaks to the underlying message of typical Naturalistic literature- the undeniable fact that nature is powerful and that man cannot control when, or if, "it will stand today".

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K.P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted August 3, 2011 at 2:32 PM (Answer #5)

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"All day the narrow shaft" places this poem in a mine shaft setting. There are a couple of reasons that the poetic speaker does not trust the shaft. One is that it is detrimental to health:

everyone 
came out sweating and
gasping for air, and one 
old man collapsed
upon a stair

Another is the age of the shaft that is implied in the second stanza:

i thought 
the fact that it has stood 
so long 
is no guarantee 
it will stand today.

The theme that these particulars point to is revealed in the last lines: the mine shaft leads to the interior of the earth that is the "the great waterclock of earth" that counts of the hours till an entrants death.

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