The Human Abstract - Language, tone and structure

Language and tone

It is difficult to discuss the language of this poem apart from an interpretation of its meaning and imagery. You need to look carefully at Synopsis and commentary and at Imagery, symbolism and themes to see how closely these work together.

Structure and versification

The poem has six quatrains, each comprised of two closed rhyming couplets (although stanza four uses pararhyme). The didactic tone is reinforced by the closed nature of the couplets. Initially they create the impression of maxims delivered whole and intended to be accepted as such. In the description of the growth of the tree, they then trace its step by step development. With this impression of a rationally described development, the reader is inclined to accept the content without question. Consequently, the final assertion is accepted as statement rather than as opinion.

Investigating language, tone and structure

  • Do you agree that the structure is intended to persuade the reader to accept assertions, or do you think it encourages you to argue with the view being expressed?
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