ENG 2003: Introduction to Poetry

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    Her skirt was lofted by the gale
    When I, with gesture deft,
    Essayed to stay her frisky sail
    She luffed, and laughed, and left.

    As we explore the use of sound in the next class, I would like to note the use of assonance, alliteration, and rhyme in Paul Humphrey’s piece “Blow”. EssAyed, stAy, and sAil, (3) are all examples of assonance because of their repetition of the same vowel sound, (in this case A) in nearby words (hence they share the same line). Alliteration can be detected in the last line as luffed, laughed, and left are repetitions of the consonant L. Lastly the poem is a 4 line stanza in which lines 1 and 3, 2 and 4 share end rhymes (gale/sail and deft/left). Despite the use of sound and patterns, there is meaning to the poem.
    My initial interpretation of this poem was a man’s attempt to court a girl, who instead mockingly dismissed him. I decided to define key words in the poem to get a deeper meaning, and in doing so came up with a different interpretation. The topic of the poem is rather, one’s unsuccessful attempt to settle a boat that has been blown to shore??. The entire poem is a controlling metaphor because the 4 lines in the poem are designed to to compare a boat to a female. Her skirt lofted by the gale may indicate the skirt of the boat propelled in the air by a strong wind (def. of gale is storm at sea, wind). in the following lines as he attempted to capture the boat, the boat luffed (the act of sailing closer into the wind) and left, leaving his attempt unsuccessful. The word laugh may suggests the embarrassment or mockery felt behind the unsuccessful attempt. Now that I look back, maybe it makes more sense to say that the poem is actually a man’s attempt to court a girl who instead, blows him off. Maybe the girl is a metaphor for a unrelenting boat. Or maybe not! Any suggestions???

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