Concrete poems with visual demonstrations are prevalent in poetry and have a propensity to be more interesting and intriguing to a lot of readers staring from the 20th century. These types of structured poems give the readers the satisfaction of analyzing as well as finding out meanings and connections within the visual aspect of the poem and the wording. An excellent example of a concrete and well-structured poem is Robert Herricks The Pillar of Fame. This poem tends to attract the readers attention arouse curiosity with its unique design of a pillar. The poet uses the durability and strength of a pillar to represent the everlastingness of fame. Herricks poem is noticeably well structured which offers a well-designed visual demonstration that correlates with the meaning of the poem itself.
Firstly, the poem consists of only one stanza that is structured to look like a pillar and draw the readers attention. Pillars are known for their beauty of strength and durability. In the poem, the narrator talks about putting up a pillar of fame which is described to be indestructible and out-during. The rhyming, the wording, the design and the overall structure contribute to the description the pillar of fame. The poems first four lines are designed to look like the capital of a pillar, lines five to ten resembles the shaft of a pillar, and the last four make up the base. The narrator begins the poem talking about putting up the pillar of fame.
Besides, Herricks poem centers on the theme of time as well as how short life is. Based on this context, the author makes extensive use of visual techniques to alienate fame from everything else in the world, which is mortal. Although everything else eventually comes to its end through death, the author states that fame can last even after a person dies since it is on peoples shoulders that fame is able to outlast any disaster or even any civilization. Through the image created by the structure of the poem, Herrick substantiates that it is through people that fame finds an indomitable foundation that out lasts every other thing in the world. Besides, the structure of the lines of the poem is structured in a way that they represent the physical form of the everlasting pillar of fame that the poem is describing.
The poem also makes use of an extended metaphor in which case it likens the pillar to fame and how immortal it is. More specifically, the poet describes the pillar as an invincible element which is indomitable by any kind of force that nature throws at it. In this regard, the poem extensively symbolizes fame in the sense that it elucidates to the reader that fame can be considered as an entity that outlives every element since it is usually passed about through peoples tongues across the world.
Similarly, the metaphorical aspect of the poem is substantiated in the structure of the lines of the poem. The lines of the poem that are at the narrowest part of the pillar indicate that the indomitable pillar symbolizing fame actually does have a weakness. This narrow part is only upheld by the words of overthrow and or outrages. With reference to these two narrow lines, the reader can deduce that, if any of the two lines is deleted, the entire pillar will fall to the ground. This, in essence, symbolizes fame which also has the same vulnerability. This would mean that, if people, who are the greatest perpetrators of fame, would cease spreading the fame, it would indeed stop to grow and as a result, fame would no longer be rendered immortal.
The poets use of the one structured stanza is also another aspect of the poem that significantly cements both the strengths and the shortcomings of the form of the pillar. For instance, the line, Tho kingdoms fall, is an indication that, regardless of how sturdy something is, there are chances that struggles will arise and as a result, weaken the kingdom. The structure of this particular line also has its own implications in the poem. More specifically, despite the fact that the line is short and abrupt, it has different punctuations which effectively emphasize the apparent frailty of the pillar and also its consequent importance. This short and abrupt line, line 10, is however followed by longer and lengthening lines which are a primary indication that the mentioned things cannot affect the immortality of the pillar. The poet states that, Tho kingdoms fall, this pillar never shall. Besides, the lengthening lines mirror the physical base of a pillar which indicates that the fact that a pillar is endowed with a firm structure, and is spaced liberally and deliberately, the pillar regains its strength and becomes even sturdier after the threats of the trial.
The wording of the poem is yet another poetic aspect that uniquely characterizes this particular poem. Simply put, the words that form each line of the poem play a significant role in trying to mirror an image similar to that of a physical pillar. This is seen in the formation of each and every line both at the beginning and at the end of the poem. As the poem goes on, each line gets longer creating not only a literary foundation but also an image of a physical foundation in the sense that the very last line is the longest and hence the strongest. This also means that its length which is an indication of its strength also shows how to it holds up the preceding lines of the poem.
Also, the poem is characterized by various poetic words. For instance, towards the end of the poem, Herrick perfectly uses masculine rhymes.
Tho kingdoms fall,
This pillar never shall
Decline or waste at all
Words such as, fall, shall and all, are rhyming words that give the readers the illusion that, the speakers understanding of the pillar is definitive, especially in this section of the poem. In the same vein, the poet skillfully makes use of these rhyming words in an attempt to set for the readers a tone of absoluteness as the reader approaches the end of the poem.
Conversely, the last two lines of the poem are characterized by an imperfect rhyme scheme which draws the readers attention to the alliteration used in the very last line, Firm and well-fixed foundation. Alliteration, in this regard, is an indication that, the pillar, which symbolizes fame in the world, is a simple basis that stands on its own merits. Therefore, the emphasis made at the end of the poem is an indication that despite the fact that a pillar is indeed a strong object, it may be considered a weak aspect in conforming to the ideals of the society. In this regard, the flow that is substantiated by both the perfect and the imperfect rhymes is symbolic of the flow that characterizes the universe. Thus, Herricks deliberate use of partial rhymes substantiates that the pillar is above the manner in which the society understands the universe, owing to the fact that the pillar symbolizing fame is an actual transcend of time.
In conclusion, Herrick, through the structure and the literary devices used in this poem, skillfully creates in the readers minds that fame is indeed a strong pillar that can last forever. He, however, also makes use of various poetry traits to exemplify the fact that, although the pillar can be considered immortal, there is nothing that lacks its own weaknesses and with the weaknesses, the pillar of fame can no longer be considered eternal.
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