Firstly to a word that sounds like what

Firstly looking at the
poem ‘Jabberwocky’ (McGough, 2001, p20)
which was originally published in the 1871 book ‘Through the Looking-Glass’,
and ‘what Alice Found There’ by Lewis Carroll.
This was later followed by its well known companion piece, ‘Alice’s Adventures
in Wonderland’. ‘Jabberwocky’ is
the basis for the hugely popular Disney movie ‘Alice in Wonderland’. Lewis Carroll created this fantasy
world through the use of clever sonic devices and ridiculous vocabulary. Jabberwocky is a nonsense poem where the words are mostly chosen
or made up for their sound,
rather than their sense.

Ballad stanza is traditionally found in folk ballad, and is used as a
way for people to communicate legends and stories to each other; because of
this its rhythm and rhyme make it easy to remember. Even though it has some rather
bizarre made up language, “Jabberwocky” is no exception to the
memorable rhythm and rhyme. “Jabberwocky” remains one of the most
frequently memorised poems in the English language. When looking closely at Ballad
Stanza’s in this poem, we see it is written solely in quatrains, four-line
stanzas, that have a regular ABAB, CDCD, EFEF rhyme scheme. The lines
themselves are mostly written in iambic
tetrameter. That’s a lot of syllables, so looking at the first lines
with the accents we see “Twas brill-ig,
and the sli-thy toves”(1) and “Did gyre and gim-ble
in the wabe”(2). There are four stressed syllables
in each line, and they alternate neatly with unstressed syllables, with the
unstressed syllable coming first. This is the iambic tetrameter. The iambic
bit refers to the unstressed-STRESSED, unstressed-STRESSED rhythm of it, and
the tetrameter part is to let you know that there are four iambs (or
four unstressed-STRESSED groupings) in each line. The only irregularity in the
rhythm itself is the fact that the last line of each stanza only has three stresses, making it iambic trimester, as we see in line 20 “and
went ga-lumph-ing back.”(20) This rhythm and rhyme
within the poem is interesting to children, it gains their attention. Younger children
may not understand the poem fully at first, but enjoy listening to the poem purely
because it rhymes!

Jabberwocky also uses onomatopoeia; this refers to a word that sounds like
what it means such as ‘wizz’ and ‘hiss’. An example
of this in Lewis Carroll’s poem is the word ‘slithy'(25).  This word is not only an example of onomatopoeia; it is also an example of
portmanteau. Portmanteau is a
word that’s made by squashing two words together, in this case lithe and slimy. So we have a word that
not only sounds slimy, but is
also graceful, because of the inclusion of lithe (which can mean graceful”). Both the sound and the
word combined give this new word force and depth of meaning. The words
‘snicker-snack'(18) are also an example of Carroll’s use of onomatopoeia.

Assonance which is the repetition of a Vowel sound in two or
more stressed syllables that do not end with the same consonant is also seen
within the poem, such as ‘gimble’ and ‘mimsy’ (2,3). Consonance, the repetition of significant
Consonant sounds in a line of poetry is also used by Lewis Carroll in Jabberwocky “Come to my arms, my beamish

The speaker, our narrator does not give anything away as to who
he is, but he takes great pleasure in the suspense of storytelling, building us
up and telling us with great relish this story of mighty victory, before
setting us gently down where we started.

We are in Wonderland for this poem. Our setting is nowhere real;
the author has complete control over what happens because he has completely
made up the setting. We’re in a strange wood at first, with strange creatures
and plants whose physical forms are left nearly entirely to our imagination.
Then, we move on to a more domestic scene, where a father is giving advice to
his son. For the climactic moments of the poem, the hero moves back out into
the woods, deeper and darker this time, and comes face-to-face with his
nemesis. After the battle, towards the end, we return to the domestic, in a
scene of celebration, and then finally we return to where we came from, with
the same strange pastoral that has been forever altered by the battle between
good and evil.

                    Jabberwocky is a poem well known by children and adults. It is
also read in schools. I would consider this poem to be appropriate for a new
children’s anthology. Although in first instance you could read the poem Jabberwocky and not understand very much
of it at all, this same rather complicated poem of nonsense also attracts a
child’s attention for this very reason.  As
Lesley Jefferies mentions “children appreciate above all the musicality of
formal poetry, knowing that they love to make up nonsense songs and rhymes for
themselves”. (Lesley Jefferies, 2009, p218) This is very true. Children may not
automatically follow the story that is being told within the poem, they may focus
on the rhythm and rhyme as well as the made up nonsense words. The poem is also
a very good make believe tale when fully understood, children enjoy the make believe,
and this poem certainly includes that.


The poem Mid-Term Break was written by Seamus Heaney
following the death of his younger brother. It is a poem that grows in stature,
finally ending in an unforgettable single line image. Mid-term Break
Seamus Heaney himself is the narrator in the poem, Mid-term Break, a sad story
from his childhood. It depicts the reactions of everyone around him and of
himself to a death in the family. It does this through the poem’s three parts:
the waiting at school, the behaviour of everyone at home, and his solitary
viewing of the body. This poem is unsentimental but full of emotions. The first
stanza introduces Seamus sitting alone at school, in the “sick bay”.
He is waiting, and time passes slowly as he counts “bells knelling classes
to a close”. This tells the reader that the mid-term break is not a school
holiday, as classes are still taking place. The boy is eventually picked up by
his neighbours, which shows the reader that his parents are too busy to pick up
their son, so it must be an important occasion. The next stanza starts with
Seamus arriving home, and in the porch meeting his father, who is crying. This
stanza tells us that we are witnessing a funeral. The tone of the poem is one
of sorrow, grief, hurt and distress. The father is crying, the mother is so
distraught she cannot cry. Heaney does not state his own emotions, but it is
clear that he is hurting and however much he hides it, the reader can sense it
through the poem’s tone. The reader still does not know who has died, but we
know that it is a family member, perhaps a sibling or even the boy’s mother. Atmosphere and
tension are building by the second stanza as we learn of the father, the
patriarch, being reduced to tears, and a family friend, Big Jim Evans,
affirming the difficulty of the occasion. Tough men are showing emotion which
is something the speaker isn’t used to.

Heaney softens the mood slightly by introducing us to a baby in
the third stanza but this is countered when old men offer their hands to shake.
Again, you can picture the speaker, the eldest son, trying to take it all in as
‘sorry for your trouble’ repeatedly hits home. Heaneys use of
“corpse” is clinical and a little cold, suggesting that the speaker
is too upset to mention the child’s name. The next day however he feels
compelled to go upstairs to have one last personal meeting.

Snowdrops are the first flowers to show in winter, bursting
through the cold earth, sparked by the increasing light. They are a symbol of
hope – even in the depths of darkness life prevails. Candles are associated
with prayer. The use of the word soothed reflects the healing qualities of the
peaceful room where the body lies.

There is the dead child “wearing” a bruise, which
implies it’s not a part of him, a temporary thing. Poppies are linked to peace
and also are a source for opiates which ease pain. Because the car hit the boy
directly on the head there are no unsightly scars; the boy reminds the speaker
of when he was a baby in his cot. Stanzas six and seven stand out – the syntax
alters in stanza six to meet the contrasting circumstances as the speaker
enters the room where the little body lies. He is metaphorically wearing the
poppy as a bruise. Note the punctuation and enjambment play a
particular role in slowing everything down, carrying us on to the next stanza
and that final devastating line. The last line is full of pathos, the four-foot
box measuring out the life of the victim in years. Note the full rhyming
couplet which seals up the poem, reminding us of how easy it is to die, from a
single blow of a car bumper, but how challenging becomes the grieving process
that must inevitably follow. There are two full end rhymes, at the end, clear/year,
which is a kind of closure on proceedings. Assonance is used throughout,
helping to tie things together close/drove/home/blow/old, o’clock/rocked/coughed/box/knocked,
whilst alliteration occurs in the second, twentieth and last lines, counting/classes/close
and four-foot/a foot. This very loose rhyming
scheme is present throughout most of the poem and creates the impression of storytelling.
The exception to this is the last two lines, which form a rhyming couplet to
make an impact: “no gaudy scars, the bumper knocked him clear. /A four
foot box, a foot for every year”.

twenty two lines with an echo of traditional iambic pentameter in each stanza, also
the use of dashes, enjambment and other punctuation to slow and pause
proceedings, or to let them flow; and the syntax is, as always with Heaney’s
early poems, worked in a formal conversational fashion


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