It is possible to compare and contrast poetry from different literary periods by selecting a poem from each period and examining its use of structure, style, and imagery to enhance its theme. In the Elizabethan period, "Lullaby," by Richard Rowlands; in the Romantic period, Samuel Taylor Coleridge's "Youth and Age;" in the Victorian period, "A Child's Laughter," by Algernon Charles Swinburne; and in the Modern period, Jessica Hagedorn's "Sorcery," the reader will come to the conclusion that they have minor similarities as well as significant differences in the areas of structure, style, theme and imagery.
The Romantic poem called "Youth and Age," by Samuel T. Coleridge and the Modern poem, "Sorcery," by Jessica Hagedorn are similar in structure. Out of these two poems, neither one of them have stanzas that have a set number of lines, nor do they have set rhyme schemes. For example in "Youth and Age," there are three stanzas which contain at first seventeen lines, then twenty-one lines and finally eleven lines. In comparison, "Sorcery" has seven stanzas with a varying number of lines in each stanza. Thus, these poems are free verses.
In Algernon C. Swinburne's "A Child's Laughter," he uses his own particular rhyme scheme to portray the message of his poem. Each stanza consists of five lines and every fifth line rhymes. For example, in the fifth line of the first stanza the speaker states, "All sweet sounds together" and in the fifth line of the second stanza the speaker states, "Wind in warm wan weather." In Richard Rowlands' "Lullaby" there is also a pattern. Each stanza consists of six lines and every fifth and sixth line is the same through out the poem. These repeated lines are as follows: "Sing lullaby, my little boy" and "Sing lullaby, mine only joy." Therefore, "A Child's Laughter" contains an aabbc- ddeec pattern and "Lullaby" contains an aabbcc-ddeecc pattern.
Furthermore, in "A Child's Laughter" the speaker addresses children, he states, "Something seen and heard of men Might be half as sweet as when Laughs a child of seven." By this quotation, the audience can surmise that the speaker means that there is no sweeter sound he can hear, than that of a child's laughter. In "Lullaby", the speaker's choice of subject is also children, he or she states, "Meantime his love maintains my life and gives my senses her rest." In other words, this child is his or her only reason for living. The reader can infer that these poems are similar in theme because both of their messages stress the innocence and sweetness of children.
All of the poems that have been chosen appear to have a common style. In Richard Rowlands' "Lullaby" and "A Child's Laughter," by Algernon Charles Swinburne both speakers mediate on his love or passion for children. In Samuel Taylor Coleridge's "Youth and Age," the speaker focuses on the nature of the aging human. Last but not least, in "Sorcery," by Jessica Hagedorn,...