August 6 Janet Lewis: Girl Help

In this post, I’m going to talk about alliteration (not illiteration which isn’t a word). Alliteration is very simply using several words that have the same sound in them (so in that sentence, the alliterative words were “simply”, “several”, “same” and “sound”).

According to the textbook (Introduction to Poetry, 7th Ed. Kennedy), there are two primary types of alliteration. There is initial alliteration where all of the alliterative words begin with the same sound (push, print, peek, plenty – if you use all of those words together in the same sentence, then you have initial alliteration using the letter p). And internal alliteration or hidden alliteration where the alliterative words have the same sounds in the center of the word (perfect, terrify, surreal, crowd are all internal alliterative words using the letter r).

But alliteration is ONLY for consonants, if your alike sounds are made with vowels, then it is assonance. Example: all the awful auguries, your assonant sound is being made with the au sound. A more simple example would be: tap, pat, trap (simply the letter a is the assonant sound). There are the same two types of assonance as alliteration; initial (end, elderly, epic) and internal (boil, toil, spoil), but it is the latter that is most often used for modern day rhyming schemes.

This poem has examples of both alliteration and assonance. In the second line, the poet uses internal assonance with the words “moves” and “room”. The third line is filled with s sounds “stirs”, “summer”, “dust” and the fourth line, “with” and “wide”. The sounds do slow the mouth down and put emphasis on these words. Read them out loud. It gives the poem a slow rhythm, probably as slow as the girl who is providing the help.

There seems to be a poetry to her slowness that provides the poet with inspiration. She sounds soft and gentle, but quiet (“Soft lips together pressed,/Soft wispy hair”). Hear the whisper in those quiet lines. “And stops to breathe,/Amid the summer hum.” Here the pop of the p in stop and the length of the word breeeethe while the second line hums with the words “suMMer huM” as the m and s sounds run together.

She might, this girl, be a representative of the lazy summer days, those soft and sweet days that roll by so slowly. The last two lines are about a lilac blooming within the summer hum and how it is scented with days to come. Perhaps she is sweet scented like the lilac, it too is gentle and delicate. Perhaps too they both will lose their stride when autumn comes near.

Girl Help

by Janet Lewis

Mild and slow and young,
She moves about the room.
And stirs the summer dust
With her wide broom.

In the warm, lofted air,
Soft lips together pressed,
Soft wispy hair,
She stops to rest,

And stops to breathe,
Amid the summer hum,
The great white lilac bloom
Scented with days to come.


About penneloppe

I like to write horror, dark fantasy and crime fiction. Sometimes, I'll write science fiction, but usually I like to write science fact. I also write screenplays and stage plays. My day job is office work. I live in Seattle and I have a cat.
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