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Poem review of ‘October Dawn’

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  • Pages: 5
  • Word count: 1168
  • Category: Poems

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1: By saying

‘October is marigold’ the poet is meaning that as October arrives so does the autumn and the leaves of a marigold plant are yellow or orange, like the dead leaves on the trees. The name of the marigold plant is made up of the name ‘Mary’ and ‘gold’. This could be referring to the fact that Christmas is drawing near too, and ‘Mary’ was, of course, Jesus’ mother and ‘gold’ symbolises something good or rich. So this description could be referring to the fact that we should be thinking about how great Mary was as Christmas comes close.

I think that this is a very good description because it makes an instant impact; it sends lots of different images through your head which immediately gets you thinking which is what a poem needs to get you doing because if it starts very low-key and it doesn’t grab the reader’s imagination then he might stop reading it. It is also open to many different interpretations which again grabs the reader’s imagination and gets you interested.

2: The subject of ‘dreamed’ in line 4 is the half-full glass of wine.

3: The glass of wine is left out in the darkness all night and by dawn it has ”dreamed a premonition’. The glass would be able to sit out, possibly on a window sill, looking out into the world and just thinking about it. It would be very relaxing and because of the alcohol in the wine; the glass might be feeling a little drowsy. So the scene is all very relaxed and peaceful.

But because it has been exposed to the elements for so long the top layer of the wine would have turned to sour vinegar which could symbolise a foreseeing into a bad winter ahead. Another slant is that the glass would have seen into the future and seen the ice and snow of winter that is to come.

4: This poem is very interesting when it comes to its structure; there are ten stanzas with two lines to each stanza. There is a rhyming scheme, but you have to look for it; the words at the end of the lines are not direct rhymes: ‘yet’ and ‘out’, ‘if’ and ‘heave’, but for some reason they do sound similar. So if you say that those words do rhyme, then the poem has a very straight forward a,a,b,b,c,c… rhyming scheme, with a few rhymes that go a little past the mark such as ‘strewn’ and ‘green’. There is no obvious pattern with regards to syllables and lines, it jumps about a bit, but in seven out of the ten stanzas one line has either two syllables more or two syllables less. I could not really find any obvious reason why this would be the case, though.

5: The two images that I like are both quite closely related, but it is the contrast between the two that I would like to appreciate as well;


Has got its spearhead into place

First a skin, delicately here’

I like this reference of the ice starting to creep its way over everything. I can see God sending down a spearhead into a clearing in a forest and it landing in the ground head first, and sticking up. Then the ice begins to creep its way over the shrubbery and over the roots of trees. There is a nice subtle bit of contrast there too, between the spearhead which is normally associated with battle and death and the skin which would be cut by the spear but is also thought of as soft and smooth and weak. And he backs it up by saying ‘delicately here’ showing that it has not really got going yet and it has not established a real stronghold yet at all, this is just a taster.

The whole image that the ice has not really got a stronghold, at the beginning of autumn is a harsh contrast to what happens when autumn is
underway and it is even coming close to winter. This is described by

‘Then tons of chain and massive lock

To hold rivers.’

This is most definitely an image that the ice now really has the upper hand and even fast flowing rivers have been ‘locked up’. It is an image that everything has come to a halt because the ice is supreme. I can imagine a huge lock and lots of chains wrapped round a waterfall, where nothing is moving and everything is silent. It is also very effective that he does not use an article before ‘massive lock’ because this leaves more to the imagination of the reader to make up an image of their own waterfall or river. If he had used a definite article it would have altered the number of syllables and it would have meant the author would have been referring to a specific image in his mind that we can’t touch.

6: Winter is about to start.

7: The poet is describing the process of winter; the common conception of winter is snow, ice and general coldness. These things are all true but they don’t come in that order. First the weather becomes colder and as the weather gets colder then ice forms by freezing water. Then the nights become longer and there is less light in the days. In the mornings it is darker and it gets darker earlier in the night.

8: Alliteration; there are not any really obvious alliterations but the most prominent is

‘Soon plate and rivet upon pond and brook’

in the 7th stanza. This is at the time in the poem where the poet is enforcing that the ice is taking over and the ‘p’ and ‘b’ sounds are powerful, aggressive sounds.

Metaphor; one of the best metaphors the poet uses is ‘fist of cold’ in the 9th stanza, this is in the section where the poet is enforcing the harshness and brutality of the ice again and the idea of the ice being in a fist and squeezing the life out of the land and rivers is a very effective one.

Personification; The poet uses personification in the ‘fist of cold’ metaphor – lots of animals have paws or claws but only humans have hands. One could argue that monkeys do have hands as well but they are not as versatile and the image of a fist is definitely a human one.

Appreciation: I think that this is a very cleverly written poem because it definitely keeps you interested which any good poem has to. Also it seems to have patterns but they are not too obvious. There is a little bit of rhyme but again it is quite subtle. One of the main things for me is that it makes you think about lots of things and it has many different interperatations.

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