Maya Angelou’s “Alone” addresses the theme of human relationships by describing how an absence of these relationships causes suffering or a life filled with meaningless pursuits. In this way, she is describing the feeling of being alone. Angelou describes her search to “find my soul a home” (Angelou 3). By claiming that her soul is essentially homeless, she implies she has lost her sense of purpose. She concludes that the one truth she has discovered is “That nobody, / But nobody/ Can make it out here alone” (Angelou 8-10). She presents this claim as a thesis statement, and the rest of the poem supports her claim. For instance, she describes how even “millionaires/ With the money that cannot use” (Angelou 14-15) can live shallow lives if they do not care about the people around them. Angelou’s vocabulary is colloquial in that she avoids flowery or dense language. Outside her brief reference to her soul, she grounds her vocabulary in concrete images. She also uses repetition, repeating the refrain of “But nobody/ Can make it out here alone” (Angelou 9-10), which gives her poem a musical element overall. The poem’s rhetoric impacts the audience by effectively describing the emotional feeling of loneliness. The reader relates to the speaker’s rhetoric because of the colloquial language and the universal emotion described by the poet.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow “The Arrow and The Song”
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s “The Arrow and the Song” addresses the theme of friendship, as evidenced in the song the speaker was able to recover in “the heart of a friend” (Longfellow 12). The poem’s narrative involves the speaker shooting an arrow into the sky but unable to track it because of how “swiftly it flew” (Longfellow 3). He then describes how he “breathed a song into the air” (Longfellow 5) but could not follow it because “who has sight so keen and strong, / That it can follow the flight of song?” (Longfellow 8). He is referencing that a song is invisible to the naked eye, so he uses metaphoric vocabulary to describe the song as if it were a physical object. The poem concludes with him discovering the arrow in an oak tree and finding the song “in the heart of a friend” (Longfellow 12). The importance of friendship, according to the poem’s theme, is that it allows us to spread and receive joy, as the song symbolizes.
Robert Frost “Mending Wall”
Robert Frost’s “Mending Wall” is about the theme of privacy, as evidenced in the speaker’s neighbor repetition of the phrase, “Good fences make good neighbors” (Frost 28), which is the only line repeated twice in the entire poem. Frost begins by wondering about the gaps in the wall in the fence separating his property from his neighbor’s. No one ever “has seen them made or heard them made, / But at spring mending-time we find them there” (Frost 10-11). He notifies his neighbor, so they work together to repair the gaps in the wall. Next, the speaker thinks about their differences, stating, “He is all pine, and I am apple orchard” (Frost 26), a metaphor for their personality differences. The speaker and his neighbor eventually agree that respecting the other’s privacy and individuality makes them good neighbors. The vocabulary is colloquial, with the poem describing a narrative more than relying on traditional poetic elements. There is no rhyme scheme or stanza breaks, and the syntax is like how it would appear in prose. The colloquial rhetoric makes the poem appealing to the reader, as the poem is accessible while still inviting the reader to think about the more profound implication of the wall.
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