A letter from Phillis Wheatley
The poem, ‘A letter from Phillis Wheatley’ as written by Robert Hayden has a total of 54 lines. However, the poem is not divided into any number of stanzas that would make it easy for one to see the poetic aspects that have been used. None the less, the poem does not follow a particular format especially in rhyme schemes of the last sounds of each sentence from the beginning to the end. For example, the first five lines end with the following words, Obour, without, times, destined and yet (p.464). These words end with different sounds therefore making one to conclude that no particular rhyme scheme was followed. This s the format that is followed throughout the poem from the first line to the last line. However, there are some lines that end with similar words that are not that far from each other. Therefore bringing a rhyming effect, this is seen in line 22 and line 25, the word ‘me’ is repeated and there are only two lines in between these two lines (p.465). Even if there is no specified number of stanzas, there are rhyming words in the poem such as in line, 30, line 32 and line 34. These lines contain the words, wills, is and hiss respectively which are rhyming words used alternatively with the line in between them having a different word that does not rhyme (p.465). In addition to this, the poem does not have a specific number of words that are included on each line, therefore, making it difficult to make a stable tune when reading the poem. In addition to this, due to the lack of stanzas, the number of words also seem to be random with some ending with a full stop, others with a comma, others within brackets and other lines end with no punctuation mark. This randomness is depicted in line 1 where the line ends with a comma. Line two ends with no punctuation mark-therefore within a sentence, line 5 ends within brackets and line 7 ends with a full stop (p.464). This format of randomness is not depicted in any other parts of the poem. Even if the poem does not follow a particular format in poetic terms, the poem has some parts that present the thoughts of the persona. These are the parts that are in brackets as seen in line 5 through 6 ‘I yet have some remembrance of its Horrors'(p.464). Also in line 26, ‘I thought of Pocahontas’ (p.465). This bring about the mindset of the persona during such incidents, therefore making the reader know his emotions. The poem also does not dwell in one scene throughout the poem, however, from line 1 to line 7; the poem talks about what the persona remembers about her voyage (p.464). From line 8, the persona remembers her encounter with her ladyship the previous day and her encounter with her friends (p.464). From line 30 to line 35, the poem talks about the creation period in Biblical terms whereby the persona describes the serpent (p.465). There is a high level of repetition of the word ‘I’ at the beginning of most lines, even if their appearance do not follow a particular format. This is seen in line 10, line 16, line 28, line 35, line 41 and line 52. In addition to this, there is a resemblance in rhyming words in some words in the beginning of some lines. For example, in line 32, the first sound produced when pronouncing the word ‘Idyllic’ rhymes with the first sound produced when pronouncing the word ‘indeed’ in line 24 (p.265). There is a time lapse at the beginning of the poem where the poet writes about the voyage to when the persona meets her ladyship (p.464). Also, the poem begins abruptly without familiarizing the reader of the initial setting of the poem that is vividly shown by line 2 where the poet writes, ‘Our crossing was without event.’ (p.464). The reader, however, is not familiarized with the crossing that is being talked about in the poem. In addition to this, the relationship between the persona and her ladyship is not explained anywhere. Therefore not disclosing all the information that is needed to make the reader follow what exactly is being talked about in the poem.
Hayden, Robert. “A Letter from Phillis Wheatley”, Mays., and Kelly J.. The Norton Introduction to Literature (Digital Portable Edition), 11th Edition. W. W. Norton & Company, 2014. VitalBook file.
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