In order to understand the content of a poem, I like to first try and determine the tone of the poet. This poem has a fairly dark tone, amplified by words like "fire," "charred," and "faking." It feels like a poem of warning, because it first gives a situation—burning books—and then broadens the negative feeling to include not just burnt books but also unwritten words.
Stafford is trying to encourage his readers to gain a new perspective. He wants readers to consider unthought and unwritten ideas as a form of censorship.
To accomplish this, he first gets our attention. The poem starts with a vivid image of a burning book. There are specific details to help us visualize the burning book, and the image is meant to get our attention and elicit an emotional response.
However, in the second stanza he turns this image around and takes it in a direction we could not have predicted. He starts by making a sharp turn with "some books ought to burn," which immediately makes us stop and think for...
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