Virginia Lucas Poetry Scrapbook

Formal Description of "Rest"

           Susan Archer Talley’s poem, “Rest,” is an elegy–a poem usually characterized as a lament for the dead–where the narrator urges the audience to let an unnamed, deceased male rest. The three stanzas of the poem alternate between iambic tetrameter (a line contains four iambic feet, where each foot has consists of unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable), and trochaic tetrameter (a line contains four trochaic feet, where each foot consists of one stressed syllable followed by an unstressed syllable), with the occasional interlude. These interludes, like “From his brow_,” differ in meter throughout the poem.

            The first two stanzas are fourteen lines each, and the third one is thirteen. Each stanza possesses a differing rhyme scheme. Talley uses true end rhyme throughout the majority of the stanzas, like “deep” and “sleep.” The pattern of the whole poem reads as AABCCBDDEFGFEE /  HIIHJKLMNMAAA / OBPPBQRSRATUT (where B in the third stanza is the repetition of the same words “brow” and “now” from the first stanza).

            “Rest” is full of enjambments, which is when a sentence continues across the end of one line onto another. For example, the thoughts contained in the second stanza continue throughout all 14 lines despite the use of punctuation, “Along life’s drear and toilsome road / Firmly his manly footsteps trode, / Striving to bear his weary lot, / With such a pain within his heart…” (15-19). Talley only uses full stops four times throughout the poem, and three of those fours instances were at the ends of the stanzas (this is excluding the three “Oh!’s” in the middle and last stanzas).  These full stops also utilizes mute consonants, such as “sleep,” “rest,” and “God,” which forcibly makes the sound of the word, and the long lines, stop.

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