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Introduction to the Study of Literature Essay

Rite of Passage is a poem written by the multi-awarded poetry writer Sharon Olds about a boy’s birthday party. By incorporating several literary elements, she was able to turn a simple and common theme into a more interesting one. In the first stanza of her poem, she writes “As the guests arrive at our son’s party” (line 1). From this line, one can assume that this poem is based on personal experience and she is referring to her son’s actual birthday party in the past. Thus, through this literary form, Olds retells that occasion in a more creative manner.

Most verses in her poem are in a form of enjambment where the idea or thought in a certain line are interrupted and cut to be continued in the succeeding line: Hands in pockets, they stand around jostling, jockeying for place, small fights breaking out and calming. One says to another How old are you? —Six. —I’m seven. —So? (lines 5-8) Olds’ Rite of Passage is an embodiment of an irony, which is described as a conflict that exceeds the most ordinary and obvious connotation of words or actions.

The irony of the poem is that the characters mentioned in her poem are little boys acting like brave grown-ups and pretending to be real men when they are actually playing a child’s game. Even if the little boys imagine themselves as adults, they are still perceived as children since they are engaging in an activity meant for the young of age. Walter “Walt” Whitman is an American poet who wrote the poem I Saw in Louisiana a Live-Oak Growing.

It is a literary art composition inspired by the combination of nature’s beauty and the melancholic emotion of loneliness due to lack of friends or loved ones. As noticed in Whitman’s poem, it is written in first person where the speaker is narrating an event when he came across an Oak tree in Louisiana. One can assume that the person narrating the poem is the writer himself, retelling a past experience and relating emotions he felt at that time when he encountered an Oak tree.

It can be observed that Whitman uses personification in his poem and describes the Oak tree in a manner that, if distinguished in the real world, would be impossible or contrary to reason. He writes that the Oak tree found by the character in the poem is “uttering joyous leaves of dark green” which suggests that the tree is feeling a human emotion of happiness or joy while it lets its leaves grow from its branches. Symbolically, it means that the tree is in good condition or in excellent health which makes it produce fresh dark colored leaves.


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