In "The Cheer," William Meredith gives a cheer, or shout out, to good cheer. His speaker argues that although good cheer is hardly going to solve all the world's problems, a smile is a step in the right direction. He asserts that words and poems are meant to...
In "The Cheer," William Meredith gives a cheer, or shout out, to good cheer. His speaker argues that although good cheer is hardly going to solve all the world's problems, a smile is a step in the right direction. He asserts that words and poems are meant to make us happy as much as they are meant to be serious. His poem's speaker states in the first stanza,
Frankly, I'd like to make you smile.
Words addressing evil won't turn evil back
but they can give heart.
In the second stanza, the speaker notes that there are many problems in the world and that words need to speak about them. There are serious words to be spoken about what needs to be done to fix the world's ills, which are
serious quick enough, but never unlovely.
And they will tell you what to do,
if you listen, if you want that.
In other words, it isn't wrong to use words to try to make a start on the work of fixing problems.
In the third and final stanza, the speaker turns back to the power of words to bring cheer. He states that this is important, too. He says that although poems can be serious,
Cheer or courage is what they were all born in.
It's what they're trying to tell us....
The poem is making a point in a lighthearted way that just a smile or upbeat word alone can make a difference in the world. These acts are not nothing.
The poem uses apostrophe, the literary device of addressing someone absent, to speak to the reader directly as "my friend." This establishes a conversational tone from the start. The poem is unrhymed and uses few metaphors but personifies words as if they are people, adding a note of whimsy that might make us smile, as the speaker wishes poems would.