Does anyone know the author of this poem...it starts out like this: The want of you is like no other thing; It smites my soul with sudden sickening...

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booboosmoosh | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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The poem you are referring to seems to be "The Want of You" by Ivan Leonard Wright. The poem reads as follows:

"The Want Of You"

The want of you is like no other thing;

It smites my soul with sudden sickening;

It binds my being with a wreath of rue--

This want of you.

 

It flashes on me with the waking sun;

It creeps upon me when the day is done;

It hammers at my heart the long night through--

This want of you.

 

It sighs within me with the misting skies;

Oh, all the day within my heart it cries,

Old as your absence, yet each moment new--

This want of you.

 

Mad with demand and aching with despair,

It leaps within my heart and you are--where?

God has forgotten, or he never knew--

This want of you.

The poem is compiled of four stanzas. Repetition is found in the closing line of each stanza—a version of the title—"This want of you." Repetition is used for effect, as can be see in that this is the main theme of the poem: it is about loss and dealing with the absence of a loved one. While the subject of the poem is not there, the speaker's "want" is still present.

The rhyme scheme of the poem is complicated: aabb ccbb ddbb eebb, with a repetition of the last line in each.

Literary devices are found throughout the poem. These devices provide sounds that give the poem a musical quality that appeals to the listener's ear. These kinds of devices are alliteration, assonance, consonance, and hyperbole.

In this poem, alliteration, the repetition of the same sound at the beginning of a group of words, is found in the second line:

It smites my soul with sudden sickening...

The repetitive sound is the "s" at the start of "smites," "soul," "sudden," and "sickening." Assonance, the repetition of the same vowel sound in a group of words, is found in the third line of the first stanza:

It binds my being with a wreath of rue...

Assonance occurs with the long "e" sound in "being" and "wreath." (Note that while the letters of these two words are not the same, the sound is!)

Consonance, the repetition of the same consonant sound in a group of words, is found in the first line of the third stanza.

It sighs within me with the misting skies...

The sound repeated in this line is the "s" sound found at the end of "sighs" and "skies," and in the middle of "misting."

Personification is giving human characteristics to non-human things (which can include animals). Look at the last two lines of the second stanza:

It hammers at my heart the long night through--

This want of you.

The "want" the speaker is experiencing, "hammers" at his heart. A desire cannot hammer; only a person can hammer.

There is even a paradox at the end of the third stanza: a paradox is a statement that at first seems impossible and/or untrue, but is actually true.

Oh, all the day within my heart it cries,

Old as your absence, yet each moment new--

The wanting cries in the speaker's heart (also personification); the want is old and new at the same time. "Old as your absence" and "each moment new" presents a contrast of opposites. When first reading or hearing it, one may ask, how can the want be old and new?

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