Choose one of the following to write about in a 250 or more short essay of roughly five paragraphs.
1.When Howard Moss (p. 732) takes all the imagery and sound devices from Shakespeare's sonnet "Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer's Day" (p. 731) (p.733) the meaning might be more clear to the modern reader, but the beauty is lost. Compare the two versions paying attention to sound devices, imagery and rhyme scheme.
2. Some of the poems for this week are open form and some are closed form. Choose one open form poem and one closed form poem and write a short comparison of them: why did each poet choose open or closed; what is the difference in rhythm between the two, and which do you prefer and why?
Howard Moss's poem lacks the charm of the Shakespeare original, but is quite effective.
Howard uses a number of the sound devices which Shakespeare employs, such as alliteration, for example, which is used in line 1 'dog days' in lines 4 and 5: 'summer sub let' and 'sometimes the sun's too hot'. He also uses assonance quite a bit, as the repetition of the 'o' sound in line 1, the 'e' in line 2 and the 'a' in line 3. The assonance appears intermittently throughout the poem, but is irregular.
Shakespeare employs alliteration and assonance throughout his sonnet: with the sibilant the most dominant repetition, giving the poem a lyrical quality. The regularity of the assonance and alliteration also contribute to the rhythmic quality of the poem. The rhythm is regular with the obvious iambic pentameter which regulates the beat of the poem.
Howard uses an irregular rhythm and the purpose is to emphasise certain statements made in the poem as in 'forever' ... 'never' (lines 4, 7 and 9).
Howard's rendition lacks much imagery, but the images are quite apt, 'dog days', 'the weather can be gray', 'summer sub let'. These are all modern expressions and makes the content quite current. The success of Shakespeare's sonnet lies in the rich use of imagery. The images created are a powerful backdrop to the poem's message and their careful construction informs the poet's passion. The sonnet has a wealth of personification which gives the poem its rounded character.
Howard's emphasis is also enhanced with the use of punctuation such as the question- and exclamation mark, where Shakespeare asks a single question and fashions the entire sonnet around it, followed a very emphatic and assertive statement in the rhyming couplet. Howard uses a similar technique, ending his poem, however, on an exclamation - which is effective, but just not as beautiful as the Shakespearean denouement.
The rhythm in Shakespeare's sonnet is regular and follows the usual style - the rhyme scheme is abab, cdcd, efef, gg, whilst Howard's has irregular rhythm which does not stick to the iambic pentameter. The rhyme scheme is also disjointed: abab, ccbd, bee, ff. More significantly, the poem comprises only 13 lines instead of the regular 14.
I enjoy both poems, but have a deeper sentiment for Shakespeare's sonnet since its construction is so carefully organised and structured. Its message is also rendered in a much more powerful style and expresses a greater idealism than Howard's effort.