Virginia Lucas Poetry Scrapbook

White Roses Formal Description

White Roses is a descriptive/narrative poem detailing a wedding scene. The poem is thirty two lines long—comprised of four eight-line stanzas. It is written in the past tense apart from the final stanza, which transitions to the present tense.
   Each stanza of the poem follows the rhyme scheme abcbdefe. The consistency of the two pairs per stanza rhyme scheme lends a steady, rhythmic quality to the poem’s musicality. The first two stanzas feature only masculine rhyme (hue/dew, sigh/die, wreath/beneath, fair/there). The third features only feminine rhyme (glistened/listened, taken/forsaken). The fourth and final stanza complicates the rhyming variety further with pairs of each style (dying/sighing, them/them). The three pairs of feminine rhyme give the scheme a kind of arc, as it moves from simple monosyllabic rhymes to two syllable rhymes and back.
   The poem’s meter is complex. The poet employs an informal trochaic dimeter, where several unstressed syllables in some metric feet are condensed—giving the two stresses of many of the poem’s lines a quick ‘drum-tap’ introduction. It is also possible to interpret the poem’s meter as alternating four-foot and three-foot lines. For instance, in the opening line of each stanza, “They were gathered for a bridal”, one could break the line into the first two equal stresses, followed by four trochees. However, the poem’s meter and rhythm quickly breaks down when interpreted as alternating trochaic tetrameter and iambic trimeter. Placing the sole stresses on the initial syllables of “gathered” and “bridal” in the same line results in a rhythmically consistent meter.
   Alliteration is used sparingly throughout the poem, the most notable examples being repeated f sounds in stanzas one, three, and four—“fair and fairy sisters”, “false and faithless listened”, and “They are faded, and the farewell” respectively. This repeated consonance gives an emphatic and breathy feel to the verse, and forces the reader to slow down in order to enunciate them.
  There is some personification given to the eponymous roses of the poem.
  Notable also is the repetition of the initial line at the beginning of each stanza. The repeated phrase is utilized to both describe the titular white roses and to cleverly transition to the setting and the drama of the poem. 

White Roses