A Divine Image - Language, tone and structure

Language and tone

The extensive use of repetition produces an emphatic, fierce tone, heralded by the harsh opening consonants of ‘Cruelty'. The repeated H and F alliteration tightly links each line of the poem to its neighbours. This is increased by the assonance linking ‘forged', ‘forge' and ‘gorge' and the similarity between ‘form' and ‘forge'. Gorge implies something bestial and devouring, intensifying the sense of destructiveness created by the fiery forge and furnace. It can encourage the reader to overlook the fact that forges and furnaces are, in fact, aspects of a creative process.

Investigating language and tone

  • How effective do you find this use of repetition and assonance in reinforcing the impression of an emphatic speaker?

Structure and versification

The poem has a regular rhythm with four stresses to each line. The regular iambic metre is disrupted by the inversion of the first foot in l.1 and 3, throwing emphasis onto the harsh realities of ‘Cruelty' and ‘Terror'.

The poem is patterned to begin and end with the human heart, as this is the source of everything. Hence, stanza one moves from heart to face, to form, to dress. Stanza two moves in the opposite direction, from dress, to form, to face, to heart. The sibilance of l.4 suits the implied whispering of ‘Secrecy'.

Investigating structure and versification

  • What do you think the circularity of the pattern and the regularity of the rhythm add to your appreciation of the poem's meaning?
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