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"A Chinese Sage" is a poem written by Elizabeth Jennings and is part of a collection called Growing-Points, written in 1975.

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Poetry Commentary "A Chinese Sage" is a poem written by Elizabeth Jennings and is part of a collection called Growing-Points, written in 1975. It is written in a very unusual form that can be considered as free verse, using various different indentations and alignments for different lines. This is used by the author to put emphasis on the story in the poem. It consists entirely of 23 lines all in one stanza. It could be said that the poem is a mixture between didactic and narrative poetry. The poem reveals two significant characters: A wise Chinese Sage who likes to write poetry, and a dead simple, uneducated female peasant. Both of these individuals differ from each other in every way. The only way in which they can both relate to each other in any way is by adapting to each others level of intelligence on an emotional level. This turning point in the poem is also emphasised by the use of varying alignment and indentations and especially the use of more emotionally tuned words. The Chinese Sage is very peculiarly introduced: The way he writes his poems is described. ...read more.


Both characters are also very clearly described by lists. The peasant woman is described by simple common nouns: "hay, beds, crude, meals, lust". Immediately followed are several difficult to understand personifications that finalise the portrait of how he must change to the previous things and leave his wit, verse, and cleverness behind. The poem is cleverly constructed so that the rhythm is fairly constant but since there are fewer words in the first few lines than in the rest of the poem it builds up to a climax in the story and linked with the language used, a very obvious change can be recorded. After the turning point, the rhythm seems to be interrupted and not as steady as previously. At the significant emotional turning point in the story the language and form considerably change. After this turning point, a confusing and perplexing atmosphere is created displaying a change in the Chinese Sage's thoughts, since the language used towards the beginning of the poem is very direct and straight forward. Adding this to the shifting in alignments and indentations one could assume that feelings, emotions, and thoughts occurring in the story are directly linked with the poem as a piece of text. ...read more.


This can be interpreted simply as a loss of potential wisdom. He may be described as a philosopher as well as a poet, since he was concerned with more than just poetry in life, especially concerning the change in his thoughts. The question itself also illustrates how much the reader is left to independent interpretation and how the reader can relate to the story himself. The allusion to Charlemagne in this case is a comparison between the "sage without a crown" and a great emperor who had the opposite. "paring simplicities to a peace no Emperor was ever enticed by or even dreamed of?" indicates that a crowned man could never find harmony in a simple and natural life but in the personified state of an "uncrowned wisdom", a man can still find this simple and tranquil way of life. This final rhetorical question summarises the whole story into a deeper moral. This is why it could be said that the poem is didactic. However, the story of the sage and the peasant woman is a clear example of what Jennings wanted to convey. It simply made the meaning of the final rhetorical question easier to understand. ?? ?? ?? ?? NAME 1 09.05.2007 ...read more.

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