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Burning: Poetry Explication Essay

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Updated: Apr 23rd, 2019

The poem Burning can be regarded as an example of free verse; this means that the author does adhere to a certain rhyming pattern or meter (Cushman and Cavanagh 524). Furthermore, one can say that this literary work allows different interpretations and responses of the readers.

Overall, it is possible to say that this poem explores the feelings of profound loss; it depicts the downfall of something that has been an inseparable part of people’s life. This is the most important issue that should be discussed in this paper.

One of the details that attract the attention of the readers is that the writer does not following a specific musical pattern while writing this poem. The lines of this poem differ in terms such criteria as the number of syllables and meter. Moreover, one cannot speak about any distinct rhyme scheme that the writer adheres to. The following lines eloquently illustrate this argument,

“They take it into their arms,


as they squeeze out its last warm

breath of life” (Anonymous 1-4).

It is difficult to say if this approach to musical devices can be linked to the theme of a poem. Nevertheless, it indicates that the author is more concerned with the expressive power of the literary work, rather than its formal elements. This approach often gives more opportunities to the author.

This poem also contains sensory images that are related to touch, sight, and sound. In this way, the writer wants to emphasize the experiences of an individual who witnesses the demise of something that could be a symbol of power or beauty. It is possible to give several examples illustrating the use of sensory images.

For instance, one can look at the following sentence, “the last time a dying bell calls, its voice choked on maroon smoke” (Anonymous 15-16). Furthermore, the writer creates a powerful image of fire with the help of the following line, ‘’their fiery tongues spray high blood-red, golden red” (Anonymous 5-6). In this way, the author portrays a certain building that is consumed by fire.

Nevertheless, this poem contains very unusual sensory images. For example, when speaking about a wooden frame, the writer asks a question, “Can you hear it aching?” (Anonymous 9). On the whole, sensory images help the author explore the experiences of a person who observes the destruction of something valuable or beautiful. This is one of the main arguments that can be put forward.

Furthermore, the writer relies on figurative language that is supposed to intensify the feeling of loss. For instance, one can mention that the author relies on personification while describing physical objects. Such a technique as personification means that inanimate things acquire the attributes of a living being (Moen 62).

In particular, one can refer to the cases as “dying bell” or “the fiery tongues” (Anonymous 15, 5). Furthermore, this poem contains powerful epithets that help to create a vivid picture of fire consumes a building. For instance, one can mention such an epithet as “ferocious meal” (Anonymous 17). These examples show that figurative language makes this poem more potent or impressive.

On the whole, the poem Burning can give rise to various interpretations; still, it seems that the author mostly focuses on the feelings and emotions of a person at the time when he/she sees the annihilation of beautiful things. With the help of sensory images, figurative language, the author is able to produce a long-lasting impression on the reader. These are the most important aspects that one can identify.

List of Selected Literary Items

  1. Free verse
  2. Sensory images
  3. Personification

Works Cited

Anonymous. Burning. 2008. Print.

Cushman, Stephen, and C. Cavanagh. The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics: Fourth Edition, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2012. Print.

Moen, Christine. Sensational Sentences, New York: Lorenz Educational Press, 2003. Print.

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