Edgar Lee Masters

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Which literary devices are used in Edgar Lee Master's poem "Lucinda Matlock"?

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Most of the typical literary devices readily identified within poetry (simile, metaphor, personification) are not present in Edgar Lee Masters's poem "Lucinda Matlock." That said, one could identify a few different lesser-known devices.

Parallelism is where parts of the sentence (or in this case the...

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Most of the typical literary devices readily identified within poetry (simile, metaphor, personification) are not present in Edgar Lee Masters's poem "Lucinda Matlock." That said, one could identify a few different lesser-known devices.

Parallelism is where parts of the sentence (or in this case the poetic line) are constructed in the same way. This allows the writer to illustrate that one idea does not possess more power or importance than another. An example of parallelism is as follows:

Enjoying, working, raising the twelve children

Here, the verbs "enjoying," "working," and "raising" are all constructed using their "ing" form.

Asyndeton is also present in the poem. Asyndeton is when the writer (or poet) omits conjunctions within a sentence or line of poetry.

I spun, I wove, I kept the house, I nursed the sick,

Here, the poet omits any "ands" that could be used. While this is necessary for grammatical correctness, poets do not tend to worry about being grammatically correct when writing poems.

Another literary device present in the poem is anaphora. Anaphora is the repetition of the same word or words in the opening of at least two lines of a poem.

And by Spoon River gathering many a shell,

And many a flower and medicinal weed —

Both of the lines begin with the same word: "And."

One final poetic device is alliteration. Alliteration is the repetition of a consonant sound in a line of poetry. The final line of the poem contains alliteration, given the repetition of the "l" sound:

It takes life to love Life.

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In this poem which challenges us about our own ideas of life and suffering, the voice of Lucina Matlock is presented to us with a notable lack of literary devices, perhaps to convey the no-nonsense and immensely practical and stoical view of life that Lucina Matlock herself possesses. 

Although her voice is depicted to us with a marked lack of literary devices, she does use some imagery to illustrate the intense enjoyment that she takes in nature, and this is reflected in the following image:

Rambled over the fields where sang the larks,

And by Spoon River gathering many a shell

And many a flower and medicinal weed--

Shouting to the wooded hills, singing to the green valleys.

This is a powerful example of imagery that presents to us Lucinda's fierce and intimate attachment with nature. She is clearly shown to be a woman who is happiest when rambling around in the countryside and by herself, and these lines create a powerful image of the way that she relates to nature through the picture it creates of Lucina shouting and singing to the nature around her.

 

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