Eli Reardon Responding to texts: Poetry 2018
SACE: 469935R Stage II English
Responding to Texts: Poetry Analysis
The poems Strange Fruit (1935) and Invictus (1875) by Abe Meeropol and William Ernest Henley respectively, both include many literary techniques that give flow and description to their poems and also bear an underlying meaning. The authors ideas and opinions are effectively communicated through the poems using multiple poetic techniques such as metaphors, strong imagery, rhyming schemes and alliteration.
Meeropol and Henley both spoke of a miserable situation in their poems; in Strange Fruit, Meeropol speaks of lynching in the south, whilst Henley speaks about his unfortunate ordeal with his health in Invictus. However, Invictus is also a very triumphant poem, as Henley communicates his strength through his situation and how he will not be defeated;
“In the fell clutch of circumstance, I have not winced nor cried aloud.”
“Beyond this place of wrath and tears… Finds and shall find me unafraid.”
In English, Invictus translates to unconquered, hence suiting the poem and its victorious theme accordingly.
In Strange Fruit, Meeropol describes the devastation of the horrible acts of lynching that were being performed in the 20th century. However, he did not once mention that lynching was the main topic of the poem, but made it obvious through many metaphorical hints, such as;
“Southern trees bear a strange fruit.”
“Black Body swinging in the Southern Breeze.”
“…sudden smell of burning flesh!”
The description of the black body swinging in the breeze is the most obvious hint as it gives strong imagery and positions the reader to visualize a body hanging from the tree. Meeropol commonly describes the bodies as fruit or part of a crop which alludes to the bodies hanging from the trees suggesting that it was not only commonplace but publicly accepted.
Thematically these two poems differ greatly, however also surround a similar notion as they both express the sadness of the situation, however one portrays the devastation of past events while the other conveys the triumphant and enthusiastic emotions of the author.
Many literary techniques including imagery, alliteration, rhyming, connotation and allusion are used in Strange Fruit and Invictus to give flow, description and engage the reader. Meeropol and Henley both effectively used these techniques in their poems which greatly influenced the quality of the piece.
Strange Fruit is a great example of imagery as it is expressed in each part of the poem. Each line gives the reader a different image that helpfully allows them to visualize the story. Lines such as;
“Blood on the leaves and blood at the root.”
“The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth,”
“…fruit for the crows to pluck.”
communicate strong images that help the reader to visualize the story. The line “Blood on the leaves and blood at the root.” expresses imagery of the blood from the lynched victims being dripped along the branches to ...