A Divine Image: Rhyme And Rythm Essay, Research Paper
In “A Divine Image”, Blake uses several techniques and literary devices, to transmit his thoughts about social injustice, cruelty and human nature, Rhyme and rhythm are two of the main features in this poem this poem is the rhythm affect the whole mood, tone and meaning of the poem. The poet has chosen different methods to give the poem specific sounds that affect the pace and structure of the rhythm.
The structure of the first stanza helps us understand the relationships between the four aspects of human nature presented, cruelty, jealousy, terror and secrecy. The first and third lines start with the main word, while in the second and fourth ones the words come preceded by the word “And”. This makes the reader connect cruelty with terror and jealousy with secrecy automatically. We can notice that the stress of the lines in this first stanza falls onto the main word, giving an emphasizing effect. Unlike many other Blake poems, such as “The Tyger” or “The Lamb” we cannot find rhyming couplets in this stanza, but the rhyming and stressing effect is enough for the reader to tie the ideas together. This effect is strengthened by the repetition of the word “human” in every line and the repetition of the “y” ending sounds in lines one, two and four.
The structure of the second stanza differs from the structure of the first one. We notice that each of the lines provide an “answer” in a “symmetrical” way to each one in the first stanza. This structure can also be found in “The Lamb”. This gives the impression to the reader that the poem is a closed circle, ending were it started. On a deeper level, this way of structuring can represent the inflexibility and stiffness of these negative human aspects, like immovable objects buried deep inside human nature. We can see that the most outstanding rhythmical feature of this stanza is foregrounding. In fact, every line of the poem has the word “human” in it. This excessive repetitiveness, together with the characteristics described, leads the reader to render them exclusively human, the result of our intellectual superiority over nature. The stress of the lines fall in the word “human” in every case in the second stanza, achieved by the foregrounding device.
The repetition of the consonant sounds plays a very important part in the rhythm of the second stanza. We notice that the consonant sound most frequently repeated is the “f” sound, a sharp and keen one, for example in “? is forged iron”, “?form a fiery forge” or “?face a furnace sealed”. This repetitiveness of the “f” sound together with the image of a furnace and iron being forged, suggests a very strong image of fire that affects the tone and mood of the poem. The climax of this image is achieved in the third lines when the image of the furnace is presented. Interestingly enough we can find juxtaposition of the words “face” and “furnace” as these don’t usually go together, for the heat of a furnace would burn someone’s face. This suggests the somewhat chaotic human nature referring to jealousy. Blake uses this image to explain that jealousy does nothing more than harm the person that feels it, as if he was putting his face onto a furnace.
When we reach the last line of the poem, we find the first perfect rhyme, giving it a much more intense and unexpected ending. Because the ideas in the second stanza are developed in a pattern, from smaller to larger, (iron, forge, furnace, gorge) the reader can pair up again these feelings and can imagine which one is a consequence of the other. Blake states that the consequence of cruelty is terror, and that secrecy is the result of jealousy. When we go back we notice that the poem’s rhythm and absence of rhyme can be seen as a “preface” to the last line. The image of fire suggested by the rhythmical repetition of the “f” sound remains while the image of the gorge is presented. Together with the “orge” sound in this last word and the word “forge”, an image of an enclosed and trapped fire, burning as hot as the one in a furnace is created. The human heart becomes the scorching gorge, like burning flesh, an undoubtedly powerful and impressive way of finishing the poem after the repetitiveness of the previous lines.
In conclusion, the rhyme produced by the stress given to the words at regular intervals, the selection of these words according to their sounds and consequent effects and the absence of rhyme until the last line of the poem where a sudden and impressive ending is pictured are the essence of the poem, which would not be capable of transmitting the ideas of the poet so clearly and accurately to the reader if absent, and are indeed the whole point of the poem.