Structure and versification in St Mary Magdalene

As we have said, this is a loosely structured poem but there are linking words and phrases between the variations and no subsection or variation is allowed to take over or run on for more than two or three stanzas. There is a sudden and economic opening and a sense of ending in the final question and answer to and from the tears themselves.

The stanza structure is very regular for a poem of this length. A sestet rhyming ababcc, the a-lines being trimeters, the other lines tetrameters. The metre is generally iambic but not consistently so. The last two lines form neat couplets for many of the stanzas, though not with the epigrammatic neatness of Andrew Marvell's tetrameter couplets.

Investigating St Mary Magdalene
  • What strikes you as the main features of St Mary Magdalene?
  • Do you feel it is a strange poem?
    • Can you say wherein the strangeness lies?
  • Is it really a religious poem?
    • Or is it just a poem about weeping?
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