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What is the theme and the subject matter in a poem?

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sara-89 | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 2) eNoter

Posted June 2, 2011 at 9:10 PM via web

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What is the theme and the subject matter in a poem?

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

Posted June 6, 2011 at 11:13 PM (Answer #2)

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Subject matter of a poem is the most straightforward part of your question to answer.  Most of the time, the title of the poem is a reader's largest clue as to what the poem is about exactly.  For example, if one were to read Beatrice Janosco's "The Garden Hose", and ignore the title, the reader would think that the subject matter of the poem was about a snake:

In the grey evening

I see a long green serpent

With its tail in the dahlias


It lies In loops across the grass

And drinks softly at the faucet.

I can hear it swallow.

Therefore, the title shows that the poem is actually a metaphor poem and actually about a garden hose.

As for themes in poetry, a theme refers to the message, general idea, or what the author wishes to teach/say to readers about morality.  Themes exist as a continual undertone or overtone of an entire piece. Themes typically speak to social/cultural issues and/or life in general (human nature/behavior).

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