What kind of poem is "The Secret Heart"?

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rmhope eNotes educator| Certified Educator

"The Secret Heart" by Robert Peter Tristam Coffin is a lyric verse. A lyric poem is one in which the speaker in the poem expresses strong feelings about an experience or idea. Although we might think of the word "lyric" as referring to the words of a song, in poetry it refers to a poem that uses rhythm, rhyme, meter, and sound devices to create a lyrical effect. The term "verse" means that the poem rhymes and has a regular rhythm and meter. 

This poem expresses the speaker's feelings about a boy and his father, especially the boy's memory of his father checking on him after he has gone to bed. The father's actions and the boy's memories are described in warm, loving, and appreciative terms. The poem uses the visual of the heart shape the father formed with his hands to portray the father's love for his son. Such symbolism and/or metaphor is a common device in lyric poetry. The poem is written in one stanza composed of eleven couplets, or pairs of rhyming lines. Most of the lines are iambic tetrameter, although there is some variation. The poem uses soft alliterative sounds like repeated /s/ and /h/ sounds to create a pleasant and quiet sound. 

When you find a poem that makes use of traditional rhythm, meter, rhyme, and other poetic devices and that does not fit into any other category of poetry (see link below), you may categorize it as lyric verse. 

 

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