Seven Controversial Poets You Should Read Right Now

Poetry isn’t for everyone, but there are some poets who write about the most explosive topics you could imagine. Those who are brave enough to venture into this territory of the written word should be commended for both their skill in gaining the attention of the masses and their willingness to do it, even knowing the consequences. These are seven of the most controversial poets you’ll ever hear about, and you should probably read a few of their poems as soon as you can.

W.B. Yeats wrote a poem called The Second Coming, a cold prophecy about the fall of a Christian age that has lasted for two thousand years. He firmly believed that such eras tended to last about that long, and that this one was ending at last. He considered the millions of dead from World War I to be evidence of this.

Amiri Baraka might be the most controversial on the list, and the most contemporary. After the events of 9/11, she wrote a poem called Somebody Blew Up America. A hardcore truther, he believed that President Bush was quite aware of what would transpire that day, as were the Israelis. This publication caused a battle between the poet and a number of government posts including the governor of New Jersey at the time, and soon enough the question of how far free speech can go came up.

Allen Ginsberg published Howl in 1956 inside of a collection. He was a fierce opponent of conformity during a time period that needed such a man to speak for the rest of us who couldn’t. He was openly gay, and at the time such a thing was considered an illness as well as a criminal act. His collection was taken into the court system of San Francisco, a city which thankfully allowed its publication.

T.S. Eliot got The Wasteland published in 1922, and it has graced literature classes ever since. All over the U.S., poetry was somewhat fluffy and light-hearted, and T.S. Eliot’s new work crushed everything we knew about the medium into darkness and oblivion in a post-war world left in extreme emotional pain.

William Shakespeare isn’t all that controversial anymore, but some of his subject matter isn’t for the faint of heart, and it wasn’t always well-received during the time in which it was written. Although it isn’t an explosive reason, some of the controversy surrounding Shakespeare regarded the writing conventions which up to that point hadn’t been standardized. Spelling and grammar were in part up to the author to define. He helped create a number of the words and colloquialisms still in use today.

Adrienne Rich’s Diving into the Wreck explored the past, present, and the way the two interact when it comes to the way in which we define the sexuality of women during the women’s movement. The poem is steeped in metaphor, opening with a shipwreck underneath the ocean surface.

Geoffrey Chaucer wrote The Canterbury Tales, perhaps one of the greatest achievements of his time period. Although his writing isn’t all that controversial in the strictest sense, he managed to strongly impact writing in the form of poetry for some time to come by implementing syllabic meter into his works. This helped propel Middle English used at that time into something that felt a lot more alive.

What Is A Paradox?

Many literary devices are often used as an abstract effect to convey various ideas, points of view or in the legal case of poetry, imagery or other methods toward evoking certain emotions or thoughts. In the case of the paradox, this might actually be one of the more obvious devices due to its stark contrast in its ability to grab the attention of readers as often mind-altering propositions for the reader’s consideration. The general definition of a paradox is a statement that appears initially to be self-contradictory or going against certain expectations or opinions.

Some would claim that the very purpose of reading any piece of literature is to be entertained through the reading itself (though many in the modern age might argue this against less engaging activities such as watching television or playing video games). And while the thought of being presented directly with information to absorb and cultivate in one’s mind can itself be pleasurable, in most cases it doesn’t necessarily present the challenge of any sort of critical thought. People tend to read, produce images from the written word in their mind, and take the images and string them together into some sort of coherent story or stream of information, depending on the medium in which they are presented. However, the sharp double-take readers might make after reading a paradox, theoretically, could be interpreted as bringing more pleasure to the reader by initiating a process of critical thinking and analysis in order to reveal some sort of hidden meaning or message within the context of the paradox. For example, one famous line of paradox follows, presented by Oscar Wilde:

“I can resist anything but temptation.”

At the base level, this statement would simply make no sense at all. How can one resist anything that might bear resisting if you can’t resist the temptation of it as a whole? As it turns out, this is the joke behind Wilde’s quote: that while he can resist the urges (or lack thereof) toward things that do not necessarily garner his attention or bear the fruit of any temptation for him whatsoever, the thought of resisting anything that might actually be considered tempting in any capacity is unlikely, if not altogether impossible.

The thought process that one goes through in an effort to discover the underlying meaning of such lines not only is a theoretically active device toward keeping a reader engaged in their reading, but it also induces the pleasure of coming to one’s own conclusions regarding such critical thought. Poetry, often viewed a measure of interpretation in and of itself, also tends to make use of paradox in this way. Through this, the act of analyzing and interpreting poetry to achieve one’s own meaning is amplified by  utilizing paradox: a wrench within the wrench that is often the poem’s cryptic message by itself. William Wordsworth utilizes paradox in this way in his work, “My Heart Leaps Up When I Behold”:

My heart leaps up when I behold
A rainbow in the sky:
So was it when my life began;
So is it now I am a man;
So be it when I shall grow old,
Or let me die!
The Child is father of the Man;
I could wish my days to be
Bound each to each by natural piety

The paradox noted in the poem, “The Child is father of the Man” may seem confusing to many at first glance, though in the way that fathers bring about children as progeny into the world, children by their virtue of growth through personal experience (as well as basic biology) give way to themselves to become men later in life. In this way, the use of paradox emphasizes the sometimes complex process of human life and growth, and simplifies it from the perspective of nature as a whole.

What Is An Onomatopoeia?

There are many devices within the English language that are used for varying effects in all forms of literature, from prose to poetry to different prompts in plays and scripts.  One of these lesser understood devices is the onomatopoeia, a way to describe sounds within the relevant language at the time.  Several onomatopoeiae that exist in the English language are often associated with the sounds or noises that animals make, such as “moo” for cows, “quack” for ducks, “meow” for cats, and so on, though many of these and other onomatopoeia will vary depending on the language in which they are used; where a native English speaker would use the onomatopoeia “tick tock” to describe the sound of a clock, a Japanese speaker would be more likely to say “katchin katchin.”

Studies show that onomatopoeia are the most commonly used phenomenon within infants while they are in the process of learning a native language. During this process, infants slowly begin to differentiate the use of the most common phonetics within a given language, what experts deem “tame” onomatopoeia, and the entire range of sounds that their vocal cords can produce, also known as “wild” onomatopoeia, to imitate various sounds that they hear within their environment. As the infant grows, the range of “wild” onomatopoeia slowly decreases while the frequency of appropriate use for “tame” onomatopoeia increases along with the formation of the language itself.

Onomatopoeia in the modern world often see use in media such as comic books. Comic books credit writer-artist Roy Crane with popularizing the onomatopoeia within comics to introduce a more fast-paced, action-driven story line.  Crane was also known to create new onomatopoeia to further the effects they might have within the narrative.  Pop culture historian Tim DeForest notes particular choices such as “ker-splash” and “lickety-wop” for variance within comic books. These sorts of use for the onomatopoeia even came to see frequent use in television, most notably in the 1960’s “Batman” series as the words themselves would occasionally appear on the screen similar to the style in which they were used in comic books. The onomatopoeia also sees frequent use within product advertising to describe the sounds various products make as a point of their appeal. Some may remember old jingles such as the Alka Seltzer commercials, “Pop pop fizz fizz, oh what a relief it is,” or the cartoon characters representing the sounds that the breakfast cereal “Rice Krispies” were known to make.

A lesser extent of the use of onomatopoeia nowadays is within literature, poetry in particular. Using techniques such as alliteration and consonance (a rhyming pattern that utilizes similar consonant sounds at the ends of words in lieu of traditional rhyme schemes that tend to utilize similar vowel sounds, typically known as “assonance”), writers are able to mimic the onomatopoeia in purpose even without necessarily or strictly using onomatopoeia themselves. The line “furrow followed free” in Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner is often referred to in this regard, as the line itself mimics the repeated use of an onomatopoeia by way of consonantal technique. In many cases, onomatopoeia are used outright within poetry, to the same effect as consonance or alliteration, as to portray sound within the context of the poem itself, as exemplified by a verse from Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Bells.”

Hear the sledges with the bells –
Silver bells!
What a world of merriment their melody foretells!
How they tinkle, tinkle, tinkle,
in the icy air of night!
While the stars that oversprinkle
All the heavens seem to twinkle
With a crystalline delight;
Keeping time, time time,
In a sort of Runic rhyme,
To the tintinnabulation that so musically wells
From the bells, bells, bells, bells,
Bells, bells, bells –
From the jingling and the tinkling of the bells.

Between the uses of the obvious onomatopoeia “jingle” and “tinkle” to the repetitious use of the titular “bells” themselves, one can consider the evocative imagery of bells constantly chiming and ringing about them as if they were being rung from a bell or clock tower. In poetry especially, this use of the onomatopoeia is prominent for this very reason: the evocative where words might otherwise fail.

Five Famous Poems

Poetry is all about emotion and imagination. Some of the best poems by the best poets are windows into the poet’s heart and mind. The most creative way to use language is through poetry, which is also the best way to put emotions and spiritual ideas into a language in a way that can be understood.

Many of us know the names of famous poets – Dickinson, Wordsworth, Shakespeare, Poe, Angelou, Frost, Yeats. But do you recognize any of these very famous poems? Let’s take a quick look at five of the most well-known poems, and see how much of them you know.

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost

Perhaps Robert Frost’s most well-known poem is about a patch of woods that belong to a neighbor, which the author observes while on a horse ride.  The quadrameter is attractive as Frost describes the scene with pleasant rhymes and colorful words in two stanzas. The piece ends with:

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,

But I have promises to keep,

And miles to go before I sleep,

And miles to go before I sleep.

Phenomenal Woman by Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou, (she’s from North Carolina, not from Dallas, Texas like many claim!) was a one-time Poet Laureate of the United States, having one of the most famous poems about woman’s power and mystery. She wrote about a woman’s confidence and answered the question that men seemed to not know why a woman who is not a supermodel can still be so attractive. She puts it this way in one stanza, answering the question why men “still can’t see” her mystery:

I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.

The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe

Poe was a poet savant who passed away too young, and mainly of a broken heart. Much of his poetry was dark and anguished, some of it makes for great Halloween entertainment. He had several famous poems, but “The Raven” is probably his most famous, having been spoofed in a Halloween special of the long-running cartoon comedy The Simpsons. What was interesting is that the raven in the title doesn’t come into the poem until halfway through, and it’s introduced with Poe’s characteristic long meter and playful description:

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore.
“Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,” I said, “art sure no craven,
Ghastly grim and ancient raven wandering from the Nightly shore –
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night’s Plutonian shore!”
Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”

Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night by Dylan Thomas

A sad but powerful poem from Dylan Thomas, it is written as a final plea of a child to its father who approaches death. A child’s love is crying out for Dad to keep up the fight and to not go into the afterlife without a fight. It can often be used as a ballad for those fighting cancer or other difficult, life-threatening circumstances:

And you, my father, there on that 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.

O Captain! My Captain! by Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman is known for having bittersweet rhymes, and this ies perhaps oen of his most famous ones. It was immortalized in the 1980s movie Dead Poets’ Society, and the poem describes the “voyage” that is our childhood, captained by our parent or mentor. We celebrate the end of our journey (moving into adulthood), though our mentor has passed away from us. To wit:

My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still;
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will;
The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done;
From fearful trip, the victor ship, comes in with object won;
Exult, O shores, and ring, O bells!
But I, with mournful tread,
Walk the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

Who Was Oscar Wilde And What Is He Famous For?

Oscar Wilde led an interesting life, and that’s putting it mildly. Then again, in order to be a successful writer after you die, you had to have lived in the most tragic of circumstances. Wilde would go down in history as a great writer of fiction and poetry and screenplays, and for a number of more professional essays. He also went down in history for other reasons.

In case you wondered, society has always sucked. In the midst of a feud with his (male) lover’s father, the Marquess of Queensbury, he was accused of sodomy. As we all know, when you’re accused of sodomy you most definitely committed sodomy. Or at least the very possibility was enough to send you off to the bowels of prison, where ironically you’re even more likely to commit this most heinous (still being sarcastic) of crimes. After this accusation was made in public by the Marquess, Wilde accused him of libel. Because libel itself was a crime that carried a prison sentence, the Marquess set out to prove that Wilde had been involved in homosexual love affairs.

Naturally, Wilde had indeed been in a relationship with the man’s son, and so the investigations inevitably bore fruit (pardon the pun). When he was found out, Wilde dropped the libel accusation and was subsequently arrested for sodomy and put on trial in New York City for gross indecency with men. He was convicted. His resulting sentence put him in prison for two years, during which time he was forced to perform hard labor. Wilde continued to write during his sentence.

After this unfortunate occurrence and his release, he went into exile to France–where he would stay until his death.

Meningitis has always been an ailment that left society rattled, and it was no different during Wilde’s life. He developed the ailment and died on November 30, 1900 at the fairly young age of 46. No one is really certain about how he contracted meningitis, although theories range from the interestingly far-fetched–syphilis–to the more pragmatic, yet still uncertain–it came about from the formation of pus after an injury to his right ear that he suffered while in prison. One bad thing in Wilde’s life apparently led to another, through little fault of his own.

Wilde died as any great writer would–that is, without a penny to his name. His apparent sexual orientation and society’s response to it utterly destroyed any chance he had at prosperity, but (sort of) mercifully helped propel him into the annals of history. His “The Ballad of Reading Gaol” was the last thing he ever wrote, and remains a chilling reminder of his time in prison. His most popular literary work while he yet lived was “The Importance of Being Earnest” and was performed in London during his feud with the Marquess. Even though he died a slave to society’s whims, the man was at least allowed to know a shadow of his eventual fame while he had the chance.

What Is Alliteration In A Literary Context?

Most people know what alliteration is and almost everyone has an opinion on when, why, or even if it should be used at all in a number of different circumstances. In most cases, alliteration is the stressed first syllable of a word. If every word begins with an “s,” then you’re witnessing alliteration at its finest (or likely just its most common). Alliteration is most often practiced in poetry, and more rarely done in other forms of writing. It is less often used in formal speech or writing. If you are working on your thesis or writing an essay on an unrelated subject, then you should steer clear of the literary device if you prefer to avoid scrutiny.

Symmetrical alliteration is practiced mostly by those who have truly mastered the art of alliteration. Start with four words in order to write yourself an easy example of symmetrical alliteration. The first and last word should begin with the same stressed consonant. The second and third words should begin with a different stressed consonant. This form of alliteration is also most often used in poetry, but is less practiced.

There are different forms of alliteration to which one might refer. If you hear the word “consonance” used, it is a term that falls under the same umbrella of terms. Rather than the stressed syllable or first syllable, consonance is the repeated use of a single consonant sound. The words “sent” and “went” form a consonance pair, as do “strong and swing.”

Alliteration isn’t necessarily used simply to create a certain sound or cadence when writing poetry. More often, it’s used to put emphasis on a certain word. A poet often writes a line of poetry and calls attention to a single word by placing it alone on the very next line, but alliteration allows the poet to create an emphasis that can be heard rather than seen. Sometimes one is better than the other. Then again, alliteration can also be utilized in order to emphasize the mood of a particular song or poem. Some sounds tend to grate on our nerves, while others are much more soothing. Depending on how the writer uses alliteration, he or she can create a whole new meaning simply based on sound alone.

Historically, you’ll hear alliteration used not only in poetry, but also archaic literature. If you study Old English, Old Saxon, Old High German, Old Norse, or Old Irish, then you’ll likely run into it a lot. Popular poets and storytellers like Shakespeare and Walt Whitman often used the literary device in their writing.

Although not often heard in formal speaking, it is used here and there. Much like in poetry, it helps emphasize portions of writing or speech that the author wants remembered. Martin Luther King Jr. used it in his own “I have a dream” speech. One phrase ends “not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” The letter “c” is indicative of alliteration in this case.

Alliteration isn’t for everyone, but when used properly it can completely change the way an audience interacts with a piece of writing.

Analyzing Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18 With The Seasons

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?

As the sonnet opens, it’s quickly a question that is addressed to the beloved. The comparison of a summer’s day addresses the answer in the next eleven lines of the sonnet.

By the 2nd line, the speaker has stipulated the differences between the young man, and the summer’s day. Quickly it’s addressed that the young man is more lovely and even more temperate than the summer day. This shows the extremes of the weather and differentiates the differences in the young man through the rough winds of life.

Regardless of the season, the young man is going through something and the author works to show the variances. Just as summer is fleeting, so are seasons in the young man’s life.

It leads on to withering autumn. It’s too hot, it too dim, it’s too cold, it’s too warm, it’s too windy and so on all describe various seasons in the young man’s life.

In the final refrains of the sonnet, it’s clearly pointed out that the beloved is different in that their beauty will last for eternity vs the seasonal beauty that is short-lived (for the season) and must move on to another season.

It goes on to state that the eternal summer shall never fade it shall never die. That in the couplet, the beauty will always be. It won’t fade or disappear.

It won’t perish as the poem has preserved it for all eternity. It’s going to last forever. As long as men breathe, as long as eyes can see, as long as ears can hear and as long as eternity exists, it will be.

As the beloved explains, everything in life has its own personal season, just as we do. The author is careful to weave it in such a fashion as to allow each line to stand alone, this isn’t always the case with a sonnet.

In the sonnet, everything is defined from time to seasons, to age. The ending of the sonnet shows that everything has its own season and there is beauty in all seasons of life. The author shows how they can defy time and eternity by simply accepting what the season is as it is.

Clearly, the author shows thought and intent with this sonnet as they go through the story in comparing it to seasons and life. Not nearly as famous as Romeo and Juliet, it still has its place in history to transfer death deeds in estate planning.

Paradise Lost: Analysis

The poem “Paradise Lost” is built around the premise of God, his creations, and man’s disobedience.

It takes a look at the way God’s creations were disobedient and how it came back to create a trail of events that are now etched into history. This is the premise of the poem, and it branches out from there using principal characters such as Satan.

This analysis will dive deeper into why the poem was penned, its main intentions, and how it was able to relay these convictions through the written word.

Hierarchy

In general, most readers will take a look at the development of disobedience as seen with Adam and Eve.

This is normal and is a big part of the poem, but there is more to the context in place. This is where it is time to start looking at the causes of these realities and why they came to be.

For example, everything is structured based on hierarchy.

This includes heaven, hell, God’s place, and the rest of his creations. Everything is in place for a reason, and if something disturbs this order, it tends to lead to a lost paradise.

For those who do obey God, they are respecting the hierarchal setup that’s in place.

This is why Satan’s disobedience is seen as the most significant turning point in biblical history. This was the first creation that let God down and continued to do so forever. There were no external pressures or anything of that sort in his way.

Everything was done at his own volition.

Fortunate Disobedience

With Adam and Eve, the disobedience is present, but it is viewed differently.

For example, it is seen as one that is great because it highlights the hierarchy and where humans stand. Those who do obey God can see his mercy in a way that otherwise would go amiss.

This is why the disobedience becomes a slight positive and one that can be leaned on during the poem.

It shows a way back for those who are human. It is a way to learn about God and his place in the hierarchy from a perspective that would not have been possible in other circumstances.

This is seen throughout the poem and is a big part of why it’s penned.

Mixed in are themes such as light and dark or contemplation to illustrate how the human mind works in the hierarchy.

Song Lyric Metaphors: Devil In Disguise

One thing that this site has made clear is the fact that metaphors are not meant to be taken literally. This is one of my all time favorite Elvis songs. This is mostly due to the fact that the music coincides with the lyrics. The slow angelic music in the beginning juxtaposed against the devilish Rock N Roll music of the chorus gives this song so many layers.

For those who have been paying attention, the lyrics start off with three similes: You look like an angel, walk like an angel and talk like an angel. And then they hit you in the face with a metaphor: You’re the devil in disguise.

In this case, Elvis means that the woman’s actions are so devious that even though she appears sweet and friendly on the outside, that on the inside she isn’t as she seems. It’s like the old attorney versus lawyer debate! Check it out below and let me know what you think:

You look like an angel
Walk like an angel
Talk like an angel
But I got wise
You’re the devil in disguise
Oh, yes, you are
The devil in disguise
You fooled me with your kisses
You cheated and you schemed
Heaven knows how you lied to me
You’re not the way you seemed
You look like an angel
Walk like an angel
Talk like an angel
But I got wise
You’re the devil in disguise
Oh, yes, you are
The devil in disguise
I thought that I was in heaven
But I was sure surprised
Heaven help me, I didn’t see
The devil in your eyes
You look like an angel
Walk like an angel
Talk like an angel
But I got wise
You’re the devil in disguise
Oh, yes, you are
The devil in disguise
You’re the devil in disguise
Oh, yes, you are
The devil in disguise
Oh, yes, you are
The devil in disguise

What’s The Definition Of Trope?

When we use words, we don’t always use them literally. In some cases, we use words or expressions in a figurative way. This is known as a trope. You’ll see tropes appear regularly in fiction, poetry, and in other works as well.

Of course, writers aren’t the only people that use tropes. Tropes are also something that pop-up in normal conversation. Many people find that tropes are the best way to express themselves.

Being Literal Doesn’t Always Allow You To Be Expressive

When you stick to the literal meaning of words, you can’t always be as expressive as you would like to be. Sometimes, you can say what you mean without really conveying any of the emotions or feelings behind those words. People tend to use tropes when they’re looking for a better way to express themselves. If people are feeling a strong emotion, like anger or sadness, tropes may be one of the first things that they turn to.

Why Writers Use Tropes

Writers tend to use tropes because they allow them to express things in a more interesting and engaging way. When something is written in a dry and literal way, it isn’t always fun to read. Using tropes can help to spice up a written work. In a lot of cases, content is more interesting to read because of the tropes that it contains. If you feel like a piece of writing you’re working on is dull, you may want to add some tropes to your work.

Common Tropes

  • Hyperbole – I’ll die from embarassment
  • Irony – Your explanation is clear as mud
  • Litotes – I am not a happy camper
  • Metaphor – You are my sunshine
  • Metonymy – Man of the cloth
  • Oxymoron – Jumbo shrimp
  • Personification – The old car wheezed and complained
  • Pun – Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana
  • Rhetorical Question – How can I reach these kids?
  • Simile – blind as a bat
  • Synecdoche – I just got a new set of wheels
  • Zeugma – He broke my heart and my car.