Ian Serraillier

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Provide a summary and analysis of "The Visitor" by Ian Serraillier.

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"The Visitor" is a poem about a supernatural encounter. It is a narrative poem in that it is primarily telling a story, in this case of a man who finds a beautiful ring on a skeleton and takes it home to his wife. In the night, the dead owner of the ring, a skeleton, comes to retrieve it. In the end, the frightened wife throws the ring back to the skeleton, who goes away.

The poem is written primarily in rhyming couplets with rhyming tercets (three-line stanzas) beginning and ending the verses. The rhyming couplets provide a singsong rhythm that is similar to a nursery rhyme. However, the imagery of skeletons, night, bones, and graves lend an eerie tone to the verses.

Dialogue, especially the skeleton speaking to the couple, adds a sense of liveliness and immediacy to the poem, as do verbs like "clattered," that provide auditory imagery to help us imagine the sounds a skeleton might make. The poem could be read as simply a lighthearted story of a supernatural encounter, but a child (or adult) might take away the message that theft is wrong, even if from a skeleton, and should not be tolerated.

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