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Exploring Poet Devices: Mood in Poetry

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 Robert Frost once said, ‘Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought found words’. Poetry speaks directly to the soul of a lot of readers and provides an emotion, a voice making it more concrete and powerful. It has the ability to offer high spirits from a painful experience that many can identify with. Poets use poetic devices to help grab the attention of a reader, to help create a mood, theme, and tone to a poem. By looking at connotation, imagery, and similes in ‘The Summer I Was Sixteen’ by Geraldine Connolly, ‘Gouge, Adze, Rasp, Hammer’ by Chris Farhan, and ‘Thanksgiving’ by Mac Hammond. The reader can see a poet’s ability to effectively create a mood. This idea is complicated when the devices are used too excessively which can confuse the reader from interpreting the poem. In the poem ‘Gouge, Adze, Rasp, Hammer’ by Chris Forhan. Connotation is an idea or feeling that a word invokes in addition to its literal or primary meaning. This supports the readers in effectively identify the mood because the meaning of the word can be either negative or positive connotation. In this poem, Forhan expresses his experience of losing love and healing by using connotations. For example, ‘ It would seem the best use of one’s time/ is not to stand for hours outside/ her darkened house, drenched and chilled,/ blinking into the slanting rain.’ This stanza shows the abandonment of his significant other and expresses him being in a state of lovesickness. The words darkened, drenched, chilled, and slanting rain all has a negative meaning to them when they are used in the sentence. This creates a negative connotation of the words: loneliness and heartbreak. 

When those words are used together they give the reader a dark depressing mood because of the negative connotation that emits from the words. Another example is: ‘For the lilac that strains so hard to win’ ‘Gouge, adze,rasp,hammer-/fire forged,blunt-syllabled things,/ Unthought -of until needs exist :/ A groove chiseled to a fixed width,/ a roof sloped just so. It is now/ one knows what it is to envy/The rivet, wrench,vise-whatever/ works unburdened by memory and sight,/ while high above the damp fields.’ In these stanzas, it shows how the author links how his personality transitioned, by using nature and tools. He also expresses his emotions on loss and love. He uses the word the flower ‘lilac’ (that is fragile) to compare who he was at the beginning. Then he uses tools ‘Gouge, adze, rasp, and hammer’ to show how he has recovered and has got stronger. This provides a positive connotation and this connotes strength and power. This poetic device can further find the mood by acknowledging the negative and the positive connotations. By looking at the words that are applied in the stanzas, and finding the underlying meaning about them. Then the reader can adequately see the mood of a poem. In the poem ‘The Summer I Was Sixteen’ By Geraldine Connolly, Imagery comes in contact with your five senses (taste, sight, smell, touch, and sound). It affects the reader’s emotional reaction to characters and events. Connolly uses imagery to make the reader feel what she wants them to feel. This helps the readers effectively evaluate mood by their reactions to what is transpiring in the poem. In this poem, Connolly takes us back to her teenagehood when she had a carefree, cheerful summer day. She uses metaphors to show us her carefree experience. For example, ‘We gobbled cotton candy torches, sweet as furtive kisses,/ shared on benches beneath summer shadows./ Cherry. Elm. Sycamore.’ This connects us with our senses. It uses taste and sight. It evokes the image of eating cotton candy with your friends, sitting together, and having fun. This creates a positive and carefree poem for the reader. It is how she is enjoying her time with her friends, and how she is reflecting on her past. Another example is ‘We pressed our chenille/ blankets across the grass, pressed radios to our ears,/ mouthing the old words, then loosened/thin bikini straps and rubbed baby oil with iodine/ across sunburned shoulders, tossing a glance/ through the chain link at an improbable world’.

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This comes in sense with our hearing, sight, sound, and smell. This evokes an image of relaxing on a soft blanket, listening to music with your friends, the smell of baby oil in the air, and the sight of sunburns on the shoulders. This could give the readers wondrous, positive, and cheerful. Which will create a positive mood. The reader can see that she is having fun with the activities she listed. This helps the reader get a positive mood because they can connect, and visualize the wondrous activity themselves. This poetic device can help the reader’s see the mood by the emotional reaction the reader gives off by the poem. In the poems ‘The Summer I Was Sixteen’ by Geraldine Connolly and ‘Thanksgiving’ by Mac Hammond, similes help create an image for the reader and evoke an emotion. This helps the reader interpret mood because readers can connect with their five senses and react to the emotion given from the metaphor. One example from ‘The Summer I Was Sixteen’ by Geraldine Connolly is ‘ We gobbled cotton candy torches, sweet as furtive kisses, shared on benches beneath summer shadows.’ This shows that when you eat cotton candy it’s sweet but when you put it in your mouth it disappears like a secretive kiss. This generates imagery of eating cotton candy. When the image is constructed in your head it makes the reader understand more about the simile. In the poem, ‘Thanksgiving’ by Mac Hammond, Hammond writes a strange poem on how to be thankful for Thanksgiving. An example of a simile used in this poem is, ‘His knife sharp as a turkey scimitar, first, he removes a thigh and a leg. This line shows that his knife is sharp as a sword. This can create imagery in the reader’s head, of the knife being really sharp while cutting the turkey. This can form a strange, scary, and dark mood for the readers. Considering, how the simile is being used in that sentence… This poetic device can help find the mood in the poem because it helps create images in your head so you can truly understand the simile. When the devices are used excessively, it can confuse the readers. This is important to understand because the mood that the reader takes away from the poem can affect the way of shaping a specific emotional perspective the poet is trying to display. This is important because you won’t be able to fully analyze and the center of the poems: themes, tone, or mood without the devices being used correctly. This gives us the best insight into poetry because it will be difficult to analyze literary devices accurately. Understanding the device’s relationship with mood helps make clear that the mood in a poem provokes the emotional feelings you have. By looking at connotation, imagery, and similes. Readers can effectively interpret the poem’s mood. 

The importance of this argument is to show that without the mood in a poem. You will not get a deeper understanding. When the poetic devices give emotions to the poem. You can analyze poems better and connect to them as well. Adding literary devices will help a reader connect with a poem. It helps us better see and feel the storyline.   

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