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"Poetry is the best words in the best order" - Coleridge - Discuss with reference to two poems from different sections of the anthology.

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Introduction

Jodean Sumner "Poetry is the best words in the best order"-Coleridge. Discuss with reference to two poems from different sections of the anthology. The two poems "Song's From the Portuguese XLIII" By Elizabeth Browning and W.H.Auden's "O What is That Sound?" are both examples of the best words in the best order. Each poem conveys strong feelings and evokes these feelings in the reader also. They are able to build upon ideas and emotions through words in the best order. Elizabeth Browning's poem is a celebration of love. She uses the best words to show the strength, truth and power of her love. She begins in her asking her lover and herself, "how do I love thee?..."and goes on to tell us she will, "count the ways," showing that she wants to show him the many "ways" in which she loves him, immediately demonstrating great love with the necessity to "count" the ways in which she loves. She describes her love filling the," depth...breadth and height," that her "soul can reach," these words showing her spiritual being and the extent of her love to whom she writes, with it filling her entirely, also that her soul "reaches" to him giving a sense of her soul stretching out to reach him seeming almost desperate to be with him, showing a new level more love. ...read more.

Middle

However to build up the sense of danger slowly through the poem, Auden places the danger far off and remote to begin with, "Down in the valley drumming, drumming?" The question instils worry and the use of the word "drumming" makes the word sound like the noise that actually be heard in the poem. The worry however is toned down by the calm narrative of the second narrator, " only the scarlet soldiers," using the "O" in "only" uses assonance in repetition from the first narrator, it creates a regular rhythm . The "scarlet soldiers" is alliterated to give warm imagery that is comforting. To continue the calming tone Auden uses an affectionate use of, "dear" softening the mood and bringing down the already rising tension. The fourth line of the stanza and as with the final line in all the stanzas has an abrupt end. The number of syllables does not match that of the words on the second line, "Down in the valley drumming, drumming?...The soldiers coming," This unequal length is uncomfortable to read, feeling as though there should be more words however this unbalance in lines is effective making this line emphasised and the reader want more from the narrator, his short answer a takes a little of the comfort away from the his answer so there is still a little tension. ...read more.

Conclusion

they're turning," this gives an animalistic, beastly feature to the army force that gives us no empathy for them and increases the vulnerability of the narrator evoking fear for him. This vulnerability is built upon by the contrast of, "their boots...heavy on the floor," the hard imagery is a different to the gentleness of the narrator and it helps evolve the sense of helplessness. In this way Auden evokes sympathy from the reader. The soldiers ruthlessness is shown with, "their eyes are burning" making the hot image feel live, present and dangerous in our minds. We feel the fear in the tone and sympathy for the vulnerable and innocent narrator. We can therefore see, as with Elizabeth Browning's poem, the order of words allows for a building process, in this case building tension and fear increasingly as the poem continues. The words in both poems, chosen by the writer allows them to individually control the readers thoughts, feelings and ideas, this only done however by use of the best words in the best order to create a poem that effectively controls the reader in a way that the writer would wish. Therefore through use of the best words in the best order the writer can control their audiences and create constructive builds of emotion and tension. ...read more.

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