Years essay aims to analyse ‘A Sonnet of

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Years ago, books were not common, unlike the
modern society we live in now. Nevertheless, people used to tell stories but
not in the same manner as the novels we read nowadays. Thoughts and feelings
were expressed in the form of poetry. This essay aims to analyse ‘A Sonnet of
the Moon’ by Charles Best (1608) and Sad Steps’ by Philip Larkin (1974). This
work will portray the deeper meaning and tone of each poem focusing on the
crucial aspects of formal features and language used in poetry. Furthermore,
the first paragraph will focus more on the poem by Best (1608), followed by the
second paragraph which will focus on the poem by Larkin (1974). Finally, the
third paragraph will compare and contrast the two poems followed by a



The first poem to discuss is ‘A Sonnet of the
Moon’ by Charles Best. This type of poem is called a sonnet, which is a kind of
poem that conveys ideas and thoughts  made up of 14 lines. A sonnet has a particular
rhyme scheme and a specific turn (Abrams,1993). This poem by Best (1608) is
painting the connection between the moon and the ocean even though at the end
of this poem, this relationship seems to have changed to some degree. At the
start of the poem the writer describes the link between the moon and ocean, yet
closes contrasting this relationship to that faced by two lovers who are
separated. The line “so as you come and as you do depart, joys ebb and flow
within my tender heart’ is a good illustration of the connection and
relationship of separated lovers just like the moon and ocean because when the
moon disappears during daylight, this is similar to when lovers disappear from
each other in the course of their relationship(Abrams,1993). The  language used in the poem seems to be
descriptive as well as having some personification, this is illustrated by the way
the feeling was described as well as the use of images. An example of this
expression is “when you return their tide my heart doth fill.” The image use of
images in the poem was used when he referred to the moon or ocean. This is
evident in the way he described the tides of the water and crystal waves and
additionally as the “pale queen” or the moon. The use of some personification
is evident in the use of terms like e.g. 
“silent night” and “crystal waves. The poem made it difficult to
establish the use of metaphors for example “the pale queen of the silent
night.” It is not clear if this is a comparison or not. Furthermore, there was
one simile in the line “as long as she is in his sight (Furniss and Bath,1996).
To sum it up the writer compared the relationship found in nature to that of
the relationships found in life.

The poem ‘Sad Steps’ by Philip Larkin (1974)
explores the poet’s perception of losing his youth. The first line of the poem
provides a different meaning to this title. The ‘sad steps’ seem to be very
informal  and  more like everyday language. The opening
sentence is vulgar, and seems as if the poet had intentions of making it known
to the reader that the subject of his poem was in bad taste. It seems as if Larkin
wrote this poem for the average regular person than people from the upper
class. The use of ‘taking a piss’ is not the typical language that is used in
poetry, and this can be construed to be in bad taste in the literary circles.
The word ‘groping’ can also be construed to be in bad taste and gives a feeling
of murkiness (Larkin, 2006). The crudeness of the language used in the poem can
disabuse the reader of any simple interpretation of how beautiful the moon and
how it mirror’s the writer’s sorrow. Larkin portrays that the moon was striking
him in the night sky, this was something most poets in that period were
generally attracted to. However, he avoided the age-old reactions to the moon
and highlighted this in overstated language by utilising exclamation marks in
suggesting that they lost their earnestness and now appear to be excessively
pulled back from people’s mentalities to the moon as a symbol of romance. At
the end of line 12, the use of a blunt ‘No’, the poet replaces these
sentimental dreams of the moon’s importance with a more grounded reaction,
because the dull colours of the moon mirror’s his lost youth and how sad he
feels about it. This sonnet is created form this youthful perspective, yet from
a maturing and older person the moon’s paleness reminds him that the
strongly-felt emotions of youth have blurred (Furniss and Bath,1996). This poem
provides insight into the poet’s capacity to scrutinise his feelings in plain
language and additionally using highly poetic language and a sophisticated
rhyme scheme.

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Furthermore, this essay would like to
reintroduce the relationship between the two poems: “Sad Steps” and “A Sonnet
of the moon. The common element present in both poems is sadness over the loss
of youth and passion of being in love with a woman who keeps leaving. Both
poems also have a commonness of themes that involves passion and sadness form
both ends of the scale. In comparison, there is a difference between the two
poems in the rhymes, the metaphors used, language, and the punctuation. In Sad
Steps, the language is colloquial words and vulgar and controversial language
(with the use of ‘groping back to bed after a piss’). The poet creates an ambiguous
meaning of this poem leaving the reader to his/her interpretation of the poem.
In comparison, ‘A sonnet of the moon ‘uses formal and literary language. The
poem was written in 1608, it was a different period in time compared to 1974
when Larkin wrote his poem, hence the difference in the language and tone.  Also, the difference between the two poems is
that ‘A Sonnet of the moon is an original sonnet whereas ‘Sad Steps’ is a
reference of another sonnet by Sir Philip Sidney so in other words this poem is
speaking to another poem.
Thus, it appears as if there is a presence of an echo of another voice
behind the poem. Larkin’s poem is divided into six stanzas, with three lines in
each stanza. The rhyme in the poem is abc bba cdc edc efe ffe. Of most
important is the language of this poem, which is accessible, and can be said to
be informal as provided in the first verse where he used the word “piss and the
sonnet goes on to change gradually to a formal language. Larkin uses remarkable
literary devices such as metaphors to refer to the moon. He uses exaggerations such
as “Medallion of Art!’ The use of the exclamation marks gives intensity to the
sonnet and gives the poet the chance to emphasise the feeling that he wants to
communicate with some verses. Finally, brackets and colons have also been used
by the poet to give a better understanding of his emotions. On the other hand,
best (1608) uses formal and figurative language by noting the interconnection
of the moon and the ocean and contrasting it to the relationship between him
and the woman he is in love with. The poem appears to be dedicated to a loved
one. The rhyme in the poem is a b c e d d f g f g h h. In this poem, the rhyme
scheme is important in light of the fact that it separates the poem into three
sections which serve as a construction of suspension towards the finishing of
the poem, suggesting to the reader that the moon is not as good as romantics
portrays it. This poem is not written in vulgar and controversial language as
compared to Larkin’s poem (Furniss and Bath,1996).


In conclusion, the two poems give an insight
of conflicting emotions using different figurative language. This asserts the
vital role that poetry plays in our everyday lives, and it gives us a deeper
understanding of the English language, a language most people think they know
and understand yet suddenly the words change and appears not to make sense
through the use of poetic language. The use of poetry can serve many different
positive purposes on society as no one poem can be read in the same manner.


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