How can I perform a close literary and stylistic analysis of "To the still born" by Simonne Stellenboom. How do literary devices interact with the theme of loss?       

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thanatassa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Simonne Stellenbloom is the Graduate Development Officer within the Environmental Leaders Programme at WWF-SA, according to her biography on the World Wildlife Fund website. The poem "To the still born" appears on an amateur poetry site, Poetry Potion. This suggests that we should look at this poem in terms of how a beginning writer is handling poetic technique rather than evaluating it as one might analyze the work of a major literary figure. 

The poem is written in stanzaic form, with stanzas of irregular length in free verse. It uses end rhymes in an irregular pattern despite the lack of meter, e.g. lace/embrace/grace and far/day/say/are.

The main literary device of the poem is its metaphor comparing the stillborn child to a flower. This gives us a sense of loss by comparing the child to a flower, which is also something beautiful and ephemeral. While this has some potential for evoking loss, some of that potential is vitiated by the extremely generic terms of the description. For example, we hear of "Your petals big and bold," but we never get a concrete description of either the baby or the flower. We have no idea of what species of flower is being used as a vehicle, the actual size of the blossoms (rose? tulip? gladiola?), the color of the flower, or even what prompted the comparison (a vase of flowers in a hospital room? a floral display at a funeral?). Similarly, we have no actual sense of what the baby looks like. 

We do get some alliteration in the lines:

What a beautiful flower you are
Forming a bud so brazen and brave

However, to achieve this, the poet may have struggled with word choice, distorting sense for sound. A flower "bud" would not have "petals big and bold"; in the case of a bud, the petals are still tightly furled. "Brazen" is not really applicable to a bud, as it would be hard to think of a bud with tightly furled petals as "bold or shameless," which is the literal meaning of the word "brazen."

If this poem were being discussed in a creative writing workshop, reviewers might ask for more concrete details and imagery so that the poem evokes feelings of sorrow through details.