Poetic devices

“Long Distance 2” has a very different structure, but has a similar irregularity of rhythm in the last verse. There are 4 verses and 4 lines in each verse, and 10-11 syllables in each line, which creates more regularity than the rhythm and structure of “Bookends”. I think this is supposed to reflect the painful routine his father has to go through daily. There is one line that stands out, the first line of the 4th verse; “I believe that life ends with death, and that is all.”

It is not poetic, unlike the rest of the poem, which has a comfortable and continuous rhythm made up mostly of monosyllables. It is factual and harsh, again conveying what Harrison really thinks and feels. It is no longer a rhyme; he has turned that singular line into prose, which is what makes it stand out. The verses in “Long Distance 2” are different to “Bookends”. They have more structure to them; a continuous rhyme scheme of quatrains and cross-rhyme, suggesting that although his father’s life may still be in disarray, he has found a place of stability and acceptance, albeit not happiness.

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Harrison uses many poetic devices in both of these poems. Word’s such as “Bookends” are similes, and adjectives such as “shattered” and “smithereens” are onomatopoeic, whist Harrison uses poetic devices to enhance the effect of certain words. The word “sullen” for example in “Bookends” describes the poem’s mood perfectly. Other words that connect with or express the word “sullen” include negative words such as grave, miserable and pessimistic. His use of long vowel sounds such as the “U” in sullen give the word a deep and guttural feeling, which gives it a profoundly heavy effect. This is called assonance. The double “L” continues this effect and uses the effect of consonance with other words such as “silent”. The letter “N” on the end of “sullen” gives the impression of finality, just like the death of Harrison’s mother.

It is a very negative sound, and this along with the rest of the effect of the word give a very expressive sound. It describes the looks on both Harrison and his father’s faces as they are confronted by the death of his mother. “Long Distance 2” has similar words and poetic devices. The word “dead” has a abrupt finality to it. The “D” creates a heavy and dark, lifeless feel. Many of the other words in “Long Distance 2”, “bed”, “dad”, “drop” and “popped”, all share the ending of a deep “D”. The sound is blunt and short, which connects with monosyllabic sounds, and the irreversible definiteness of death. There is a very strong connection between this sound and the meaning of the poem.

“Disconnected” sums up both poems, but it is used in the last verse of “Long Distance 2”, to explain that Harrison’s father is disconnected with reality; he may as well be “disconnected” or “dead” himself. He is disconnected from his wife; from real life; and from the fact that his wife is not coming back. And what is mostly presented in both poems is that father and son are also disconnected. The phone at Harrison’s parents is disconnected, and Harrison admits he is somewhat disconnected.

This word has the same effect as “dead” with the double “D” at the beginning and end of the word. It has a long “N” sound in the middle, giving the word a negative quality, similar to the word “sullen” with the long “N’ sound at the end rather than in the middle of the word. You can separate the syllables in ‘dis | con | nec | ted’, giving the word a rhythm of its own. It connects with many of the other letters and sounds in the poem (consonance), and is in some ways the most powerfully expressive word in the poem.

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