Poetry is characterized by the fact that the language is shaped differently using different artistic means than everyday language. In poetry analysis, it is important to find and describe these formal characteristics. Moreover, by analyzing the linguistic means one can approximate a possible statement of the poem. The “only right” meaning need not exist. But as long as you can prove your interpretation of the text in the poetry analysis, you are on the safe side.
Main part of the poetry analysis
1. Formal analysis
First describe the general form of the poem. Is it divided into stanzas? If so, how many verses do these have?
The poem “Maiden on Saturday” consists of four stanzas, which consist of four lines.
Observe the sound structure: Are end-rhymes found at the end of the lines? Are within a line so-called internal rhymes? Do they represent a regular rhyme scheme with regard to the verse or the entire poem? To find out, it helps to assign a letter to the various end rhymes.
They hang her on the ledge, A
the carpets small and big, B
they hit, they hit in the spirit A
on their rule. B
With a wild pleasure, C
with true berserker rage, D
for a week full of plagues C
cool your heart. D
In our poem the verses form the rhyme scheme ABAB, CDCD, EFEF, GHGH. Thus, each verse is a cross-rhyme.
Assonances are called parallel sound sequences, for example at the beginning and at the end of a line, but also at the end of lines. In Morgenstern there is an assonance between lines 13 and 14: In “torn in the deepest” i and e repeat in the last two syllables of the first and last word.
Alliteration, the unison at the beginning of words, is also a means a poet can use to shape the sound structure.
In stanza two of “Maiden on Saturday”, two alliterations that connect two verses stand out. In “wild comfort” and “true berserker rage”, adjectives and nouns begin with the same letter. This syntactic parallelism, which is amplified soundwise, however, marks a swapping of the adjectives and subjects: Wild berserker rage and true pleasure could rather be put together, as they once have the attribute “animal” common, the latter expression the characteristics of “civilized, virtuous” as a connection Has.
A direct alliteration can be found in the last line: “thick German plumeaus”. Thus, the adjective combination “thick German” is connected with each other and something of the subject “Plumeaus” detached, they actually specify. This again makes it clear that the household textiles for the possibly well-fed “dominions” are, to which the maids are angry.
The rhythm tells how the accents are distributed within a poem.
Stressed (called uplifts, noted as’x or as a small arc, similar to a ‘u’) and unstressed syllables (subsidence, noted as x or _) alternate. This is called meter or meter. Determine the rhythm by reading the poem out loud. In the tradition of poetry, there are forms that are characterized by certain rhythmic features. They can be applied consistently or interpreted more freely. The ends of the verses are called “cadences”. Female cadences end on an unstressed syllable, male on an accented one.
Make the meter visible to you through the notation described above. If there are matches to classical metering, name them in your poetry analysis.
Determine whether the (internal) rhymes, cadences, stanza beginnings and ends as well as corresponding metrics also have the same meanings.
The poem of Morgenstern has the shape of a folk song due to the four-line stanzas with alternating female and male cadenzas at the end. These are three-verse verses that begin with only three lines (8, 12 and 16) with iambs. Thus, the folk form supports the rustic origin and rhythmic nature of the maids with whom they “tend” the fine home textiles.
3. Syntactic level
Metric and syntax can interact or counteract each other. Rhythm can also come from a series of similar sentences.
In “Maiden on Saturday” we find syntactically equalized verses in the first stanza: The sentence beginnings “They hang” (1) and “they hew” (3), the latter after the comma even repeated occurring, let the maids occur several times as active subjects , Meanwhile, “rugs” and “dominions” in the lines three and four are suffering objects.
There are also rhetorical figures that act on the sentence level.
At the beginning of the first two lines of stanza two we find the word “with”. This parallel supports the above-mentioned constructions of “wild comfort” and “true berserker rage.”
4. Meaning level / semantic level
Describe the overall story. Are the words abstract concepts or are specific things named? Are the words conveying sensory impressions?
On Saturday, the maids knock out carpets and bedding in the backyard of the households where they are employed. The annoyance about the “plagues” of the work they leave out on the home textiles. But they do not convey their displeasure to their “rule”, nor do they notice anything of it. The victims are at the end only pillows and runners.
What do the words (Denotation) denote and which connotations resonate with them? Here one could also cite the words looked up at the beginning and their different meanings.
Looking for isotope levels
With this approach, you can find different levels of meaning in poetry. If a certain feature is continuously activated by the words in the poem, this forms a homogeneous isotope level, which can be called a dominant semantic feature such as a headline (class). It can also form two opposing levels.
To determine an isotopic level, you can mark the words that belong to a particular class in one color. If you notice another one, mark it with another pen. So you can see how the isotopes spread over the poem. Ambiguity arises when words can be assigned to different isotopes at the same time.
In Morgenstern, opposing classics are “human” (small and large, domination, ears, whining, in the deepest, Persian, fat, German) and “representational” (carpets, frontier, runners, torn, pillows, plumeaus). The frequent combination of these differently connoted words (carpets small and large, torn in the deepest, Persian pillows, thick German Plumeaus) produces the personification of the objects.
However, comfort / berserker rage could be seen as the dominant opposition because these words are highlighted by some formal means. They can also be equated with the two layers of society, workers versus bourgeoisie, which can be associated with “violence” and “domestic coziness,” and which runs through the whole poem. Words that are connoted with “violence” are: hanging, slashing (2x), wild, courage, shattering, pipes, infernal, tact, whining, tearing, slashing, bumping. Domestic coziness also includes the words mentioned above under “representational”.
On the level of meaning of the poem are also the rhetorical figures settled. Find out for your poetry analysis if you can recognize character types.
The term “frontal ears” is a metonymy, because instead of the actually intended people their ears are named and the place of residence of the bourgeois families, the front house.
Stylistically, the phrase “take action” on line 12 differs with the rest of the poem. While this is about the private sphere of a family and their domestic workers, an official connotation is inserted through the “files”. Together with the legal dimension of the word “courage” in the sense of mischief and in the context of aggression, which is lived out on the household objects, the impending punishment is also addressed in the case that the violence would break out.
Conclusion / conclusion of the poetry analysis
At the end of your poetry analysis, you revisit your analysis hypothesis and substantiate or refute it based on the sub-points or levels you are working on. Here you summarize briefly again what you have found out in the main part.
Through various formal and semantic means, Morgenstern emphasizes the friction between the bourgeoisie and the working class. The culmination of the suffering of the pillows and runners in the final stanza highlights the recent emergence of the bourgeoisie over the working class: if the material well-being of the bourgeoisie did not exist, there would be no difference between them and their employees