EL 3221: Literary Stylistics
4th Tutorial

Discussion date: 13th September 2005

To do this tutorial, you need to know the material covered in lecture notes 4 and 5), with some material covered in lecture notes 1 (grapho-metric and orthographic units which have also been briefly dealt with in the first tutorial).
This tutorial and the next may help you to get ideas for your project work.

Tutorial Questions:

Conduct an analysis of the sound features of the following verse by Tennyson and Dylan Thomas. Amongst other things, you may want to concentrate on:

  1. the normative metre (if any) and the feet or lines in the poem or extract which deviate from this;

  2. the existence of rhyme, assonantal or consonantal sound features, or any other segmental and/or syllabic sound features that are of stylistic significance;

  3. the contribution made by grapho-metric and orthographic features to sound (as a whole, you should attempt to make observations on how written language in general and written poetry in particular contribute to the vocalisation of poetry; in this regard, you should make an attempt to read, if you have the time, Verse, Prose, Speech, Counting, and the Problem of Graphic Order by David Rothman or Peter Middleton's Reading the Reading, which is on the vocalisation of English poetry);

  4. whether classical metrics is suitable for the analysis of both passages, or of whether a different metrical scheme may be more suitable for the analysis of one or both passages;

  5. for the Dylan Thomas poem, you should also listen to his own reading of the poem, and ask yourself whether it has an effect on your analysis of its sound features.

Texts for Analysis:


Be near me when my light is low,

      When the blood creeps, and the nerves prick

      And tingle; and the heart is sick,

And all the wheels of being slow.


Be near me when the sensuous frame

      Is rack'd with pangs that conquer trust;

      And Time, a maniac scattering dust,

And Life, a Fury slinging flame.


Be near me when my faith is dry,

      And men the flies of latter spring,

      That lay their eggs, and sting and sing

And weave their petty cells and die.


Be near me when I fade away,

      To point the term of human life,

      And on the low dark verge of life

The twilight of eternal day.


from In Memoriam by Alfred Lord Tennyson

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Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night

Do not go gentle into that good night,

Old age should burn and rave at close of day;

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,

Because their words had forked no lightning they

Do not go gentle into that good night.


Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright

Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.


Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,

And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,

Do not go gentle into that good night.


Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight

Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.


And you, my father, there on the sad height,

Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray.

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.


by Dylan Thomas

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Last revised: 19 August 2005