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Essay/Term paper: A critical analysis of "the parting" by michael drayton

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Research Papers

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A Critical Analysis of "The Parting" by Michael Drayton

By looking at a poem which has a specific form, for example the sonnet, consider
to what extent its particular techniques enhance its meaning.

The parting by Michael Drayton is a sonnet. It is a poem about the break
up of the relationship between the author and his partner. I feel that the
meaning of the poem is greatly enhanced by its form, and for a variety of

Firstly, because the sonnet is a very strict form, the author has to be
very careful in constructing his poem, to ensure that it fits the design
constraints. One of these constraints is that the sonnet is very short, at only
14 lines. This forces the author to distill his thoughts and feelings into as
compact a form as possible. This distillation process means that the waffle that
would have filled up a piece of prose has to be cut, and leaves a much clearer,
less cluttered version of his feelings. Often, he has to sum up in one line of
the poem what he would normally have written a paragraph or more on. For example,
"Shake hands forever, cancle all our vows" sums up very concisely the idea of
the break being forever, with no possibility of a reconciliation, whilst also
adding to the ease of understanding and therefore also to the meaning of the

Another constraint of the sonnet is the length of the lines themselves.
In a sonnet, the rythem is always iambic pentameter, which means that there must
always be ten syllables per line, with each second syllable being stressed.
Where the author breaks this pattern, it must obviously be for a good reason,
when the author wants a certain word or syllable to be stressed. This in itself
will naturally add tot he meaning of the poem. This, in addition, to the
constraints of the number of lines, again causes the poem to have to be
compressed, clarifying the poem's meaning, and thereby enhance it. For example,
in the first line, there should be no stress on the third syllable, but the
author has written the poem so that there is, stressing the "no" and giving
weight to the definitivness of the first two quatrains. The author again breaks
the rythem in the last two lines, using eleven syllables instead of ten. This is
clearly not a mistake or an accident, and has been done for one of two reasons;
to add emphasis to these lines because seem out of place due to their length, or
because the author felt that he simply could not sum up his feelings in the
eleven syllables that the standard sonent affords him.

When looking at the rythem, we should look not only at the line length
but also at the ryhme scheme. In the first two quatrains, the rhyme words are
very harsh, distancing the author from from the poem. For example, there are the
very harsh constonant sounds of "part" and "heart", However, in the third
quatrain, there are musch softer sounds, such as "breath", "death", "lies" and
"eyes". The harsh 'r's and 't's are replaces by softer 'th's and 's's.

Indeed, this pattern is mirrored throughout the poem; in the first two
quatrains, the language is harsh, and cold, and aafter the volta, in the third
and fourth quatrains, the langauge is softer and more personal. Again, this is a
function of the form of the sonnet; there must be a drastic change of ideas
after line eight. For example, there is the brutally agressive "you get no more
of me" in the second line, and the much gentler "Now at the last gasp of love's
latest breath".

However, the author uses the volta not only to change the language, but
also the entire message. Instead of driving her away from him as he did in the
first eight lines, he is now reminding her of how serious the loss of the
relationship will be. He goes from commanding to almost begging. The orders in
the first two quatrains such as "be it not seen" are replaced with conditionals,
such as "if thou would'st"; it seems almost as though he is pleading with her.
Also worth noting is the way in which he goes from using the aggressive "you" to
the gentler "thou" after the volta. This clearly adds to the message of the poem.

However, despite the change from the aggression of the first half of the
poem, there remains a slight hint in the second half, as the author threatens
his lover, telling her that if she leaves him, then she will be a murderess,
having killed not just their love, but love itself.

It is clear that the form of the sonnet has greatly added to the meaning
of the poem. In refining the poem to fit the constraints, the author has
clarified the message and deepened the meaning of what he is trying to say.
Further more, where the author for somereason breaks the rules of the poem, this
adds yet more to the meaning of the poem, emphasising certain parts and making
other parts stand out.


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