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It is a Critical appreciation of a poem by Roy Campbell “The Zebras”

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The poem analysed is “The Zebras” by Roy Campbell. It is a beautiful poem that uses vivid imagery to convey the theme. The theme being the beauty of nature and creation and also the freedom and zest for life that we as humans don’t have due confinement of our lives. In the poem Roy Campbell pays tribute to nature and he emphasizes this by its structure. The poem has no stanzas therefore represents freedom and adds a natural flow of the poem. However he does use some punctuation to separate his thoughts. He does this by putting a full stop after every four lines and this is effective in that it causes the reader to stop and absorb all that is being said and are therefore inclined to adapt the poets feeling of awe.

The poet uses various poetic devices to convey the meaning. One of which is rhyme. The rhyme pattern is a quatrain which means the rhymed lines follow a specific pattern. He uses the rhyme to capture the same ideas, this is viewed line 9 and 10 when the poem breaks away from the average rhyme pattern, ABBA, and instead conforms to an AA rhyme pattern. There is an example of alliteration that can be viewed in this poem and this is “rays in golden rays”. The r-sound creates a drawn out sound which also contributes to the theme of freedom as there is no abruptness in the words. There is also an example of assonance and this can be seen in the third line “draw the dawn across the plains” this draws the word out which relates to the action of the Zebra’s which suggests slowed movement thus emphasizing the awe the poets vision as well as contributes to the theme of freedom as discussed before.

The poet also uses imagery and figurative language. The simile in line 5-8 which compares the motion of the zebras to the wind playing a lyre: “like the wind along the golden strings of a lyre.” This refers to the movement of the zebras through the trees. The poet compares the zebras to the wind and the “flashes between shadows” as the strings of the lyre. There is also personification in the first line: “dark woods breathe of fallen showers”. It is effective in that it shows the dampness of the woods and the lingering smell which therefore allows you to visualize the scene the poet is trying to convey.

The poet has a descriptive style: “barred with electric tremors through the grass.” He makes use of captivating and descriptive words such as, “rosy plumes”,”golden reins” and “breathe of fallen showers”. His choice of words is also effective. A perfect example of this is shown in line 5: “The sunlight, zithering their flanks with fire”. The choice of zithering uses the z-sound to show the sound fire makes which creates a better image in our minds.

The poet has a very positive tone and is in awe of the zebras and the freedom they possess: “Engine of beauty volted with delight”. He admires the beauty of the Zebras which conveys the theme of the beauty of nature.

The poets state of mind was a joyful one which contributes to an overall positive atmosphere. In conclusion the poem is an effective one as it shows the zebras as a symbol for beauty and the poets respect for them.

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