At Grass By Philip LarkinNovember 1, 2017
Regular rhyme pattern: In each stanza, there are rhymes on alternate lines, forming a regular pattern of befog, hellish etc. Such regularity seems to suggest a sense of restriction which echoes with the confinement human beings impose on the racing horses for the pleasure of human entertainment. Assonance: The use of repeated long vowels as in ‘shade’ (/fell/), tail’ (tell”), ‘mane’ (Impel/) creates a gloomy atmosphere in the depiction of the setting where the once gloried but now anonymous horses are situated in at their age of retirement.
Enjambment & alliteration: In stanzas 2 and 3, most of the lines end with no punctuation but run onto the subsequent line. This creates a faster pace and rhythm to suggest the passing of time In stanzas 2 and 3, which recollect the now retired horses once competed for glory under the human gaze on the race track In the past. The use of alliteration In stanzas 2 and 3, as seen In the use of fricative (fifteen, fable, faint, faded), sibilance (silks, start, sky, squadrons, subside, stop-press, street), etc. Also creates a strong sense of continuity which reinforces the passing of time as suggested by the use of UN-on lines. In contrast. In stanza 4 almost every line ends with a punctuation, which contributes to a slower pace and rhythm when back to the present, namely the age of retirement of the horses. Alliteration & onomatopoeia: For example, in stanza 3 where the start and end of a horse race is described, sibilance (e. G. Silks, start, sky) is used to depict a quiet start of the race.
The hushing sound of alliterated words hanging and ‘unshed’ creates an onomatopoeic effect that highlights the Intensity of the climatic moment when spectators were cheering or the horses which were approaching the flashing line. When the cheers subsided, sibilance is used again (e. G. Subside, stop-press, street) to end the race with silence. This also seems to suggest the glory of horses was transient and fading away, paving the way for the return to the present in the 4th stanza. More on sibilance: The ‘SSH’ sounds in line 2 (shade, shelter) capture the quietness of the setting where the retired horses are situated.
In ‘summer by summer all stole away’ the repeating ‘s’ reinforces the passing of time, which is also insinuated in the word ‘stole’. Sibilance is also used in the first four lines of the last stanza (slipped, stand, sees, stop-watch) to paint a tranquil picture of the present moment of the horses being at ease at their age of retirement. Pun & repetition: The word ‘bridles’ In the last line of the poem can be read as a pun, which sounds Like the accelerative word ‘bridal’, suggesting a Joyful tone In depicting the carefree present of the retired horses which no longer live under the human gaze.
But reading the word as a pun and the literal meaning of the word ‘bridles’ as restriction y the groom and the groom’s boy are truly carefree and back to nature. The repetition of the word ‘groom’, which sounds like ‘gloom’, creates a gloomy atmosphere – although the horses are no longer under the human gaze as racing horses, they are getting old as insinuated in the evening come’. Literary Device: Fragmentation In the first stanza: In line 2, ‘mane’ and tail’ are fragments of the horses.
The use of synecdoche brings out the matter of description– horses. As ‘mane’ and ATA’ are body parts of the horses, this creates a detached and anonymous tone of the point of view from the eye’ which s a generic perspective, serving the purpose of defenestration in order to urge the readers to view the horses’ lives from a novel or a critical perception. In the second and third stanzas: In line 10, by using fragmentation, ‘cups’ ‘stakes’ and ‘handicaps’ are objects related to horse-racing.
In both stanzas, horses are not mentioned. Periphery is applied to suggest horses are lucrative tools or tools for entertainment. The subject of description is absent brings forth the message that horse-racing activities are human-centered and people will never remember the horses [H]eve slipped their Ames. Yet horses have no say for their lives. As the objects quoted belong to victory, this ironically suggests that even the horses are fabled’, people never can think of them again once they retired (or become useless).
The speaker wants to make a subtle critique on the human-centered perceptions viewing horses as a tool for entertainment. Flashback [F]fifteen years ago…… Symbolisms and symbols In stanza 1: ‘Cold shades’ is a symbol of the isolated and gloomy life on the horses. [C]ropes grass and moves about implies the yearn of horses to run on the field. In stanza 2 and 3: ‘Parasols’ and ‘squadrons of empty cars’ are symbolic in the poem. The plurality of the words suggests the massive crowd going the racing course to enjoy the horse-racing activities.
Insinuatingly, the plurality pinpoints the humans treat the horses as a tool for entertainment. ‘Littered grass’ suggests the venue of the horses?racing course. In stanza 4 and 5 ‘Flies’ are the past glory memories of the horses. As flies are nuisances or disturbing. Using flies’ as a symbol shows that the so-called past glory memories are disturbing. Personification T]he wind distresses tail and mane. The wind is personified as it distresses the tail and mane of the horses.
The wind therefore attributed with personal feeling. Synecdoche Classic June summer Silks Jockey Rhetorical question Line 19, [D]o memories plague their ears like flies? Juxtaposition (Solitude, A sense of negligence, Isolation, Ageing, Infirmity) Classic Junes, Summer by summer, Heat, Faint Afternoons (Heyday, Prime time of the horses’ lives, Past glory and fame) Anonymous, Slipped their names (Horses are restored to their ordinary existence?might allow true freedom) Names,
Their names live fable, Almanac (Fame and reputation?might be a burden) Fieldsman The eye Distress (From a worldly point of view, the retired horses are unhappy and pitiful) At ease, Joy (From a speaker’s perspective, the retired horses regain freedom) Littered grass Grass as a nature imagery, the nature is spoiled and no longer pristine/ pure? human interference) Molesting meadows (Ideal place of nature)