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The Reflection: A Song Essay

1489 words - 6 pages

The poem 'The Reflection: A Song' was written in 1684 by Aphra Behn and seems to feature around the theme of realisation and betrayal. Written by a woman, the poem's main character of a betrayed female has a subjective stance, which evokes a strong emotion of sympathy from the reader as it could represent a true life event. The structure of the poem is set out in seven stanzas, consisting eight lines. What is interesting about the structure is the use of iambic tetrameter with the first, third, fifth and seventh lines of each stanza and iambic trimeter with the second, fourth, sixth and eight lines. This gives the poem a lyrical rhythm as well as encouraging visual interest for the reader.
Rhyme scheme follows quite a loose A, B, A, B pattern. The reason for the description of loose is that some lines end without true rhyme. For example, 'her fate' (l.2) then 'she sat' (l.4) does not follow the pattern which has been set out for most lines such as 'to bemoan' (l.1) and 'alone' (l.3). Furthermore, dialect may also interfere with pronunciation, especially with the end words of 'tongue' (l.6) and 'wrong' (l.8). This reoccurs later on with 'strove' (l.33) and 'love' (l.35) as well in other areas of the poem. However, seeming as this was composed in the 17th century, diction would have been different to that of the contemporary reader, meaning the form of the poem, in terms of reading aloud, may have had the correct rhyme intention.
Internal rhyme is also seen with 'my' (l.18) and 'thy' (l.19) which also contributes to the lyrical style and creates a smooth rhythm when reading. As this poem follows along the theme of betrayal and love, devices such as repetition are used to emphasise this theme. Within stanza five, anaphora is used with the lexis 'what' as it is used four times consecutively, which emphasises the statements of betrayal the narrator is trying to portray. In turn, the repetition creates assonance, which again supports the idea within the title that this is 'A Song' (title). Other devices used within the poem include enjambment, which makes the lines of the poem flow, almost to the point of being like an inner monologue.
Focusing on the layout of the poem, the last stanza links back to the first. This is done by using descriptions of the environment; 'Highed to a river-side alone,/Upon whose brinks she sat' (l.3,4) and 'Witness ye springs, ye meads and groves' (l.49) . This creates a competent form which increases the poems readability. When connecting back to the first part of the poem, it creates an acknowledged ending, which is satisfactory to the reader.
The female narrator in the poem uses metaphors throughout to express her emotions. She describes her love as 'kindling flames increase' (l.45) and then addresses her partner 'Yours glimmeringly decay' (l.46). These juxtaposing ideas show the extent of the differences between their love. The lexis of 'flames' connotes danger and power, and this is how she...

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