Language and tone in Patience, Hard Thing!

Simplicity and compression

The same monosyllabic emphasis of I Wake and Feel and No Worst, there is None is continued in this poem. It is especially noticeable in ll.3,11 and 14. It is only round the ivy image that a few polysyllables begin to creep in.

The style is staccato, almost in note form at times, as the natural word order is twisted round:

  • ‘Patience who asks / Wants war, wants wounds'
  • The repetition of ‘wants' is emphatic, almost like saying ‘wants their head examined' - except that ‘wants' here means ‘lacks'.

Alliterations are similarly subdued apart from the w-alliteration of l.3. ‘Rare...roots' (l.5), and the internal rhyme of ‘rare' and ‘nowhere' tie these words together in the much more unified ivy image.

Investigating Patience
  • ‘Hard thing' might lead us to anticipate some hard consonants, even though the sound of the word ‘patience' is soft.
    • What do we get, in fact?
  • Would you say the language is disconnected?
    • Or does it flow easily?
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