October Burley Barn Essay

The poem “October Burley Barn” is written by John Wayne Miller. The poem focuses on the main harvests of burley with the mention of storage practices in the barns. The poem is dramatic in nature enforcing the use of dialogue between the persona and ‘you’. The dramatic nature is enforced by the use of directed questions. The questions to the audience are presented in form of rhetoric (literary device) that can only be answered by the persona or ‘you’. Instance of these include the line: ‘Are you hovering here…?’

‘You’ in the poem is a perceived mystery. There is no physical identification of ‘you’. Instead he is perceived as a mystery object that instinctively reaps what has not been sown. The mystery of ‘you’ presents the atmosphere of the poem to be that of mystery. However, the persona ‘speaks in anger over the actions of ‘you’ evident in the line: ‘…as if though harvested yourself.’

There are a variety of literary devices used in the poem. The dominant one is the use of imagery. Being a dramatic poem, the ability to create mental pictures of the actual verbal confrontation is crucial in the presenting the message of the poem. One instance in the audio factory imagery where the speaker says ‘hear the hounds…’ Additionally, other forms of imagery include ‘…moldy route through mystery’. This line is a form of visual imagery where of a road passage overgrown with mold.

The central theme in the poem is pain. The speaker is openly detested by ‘you’ who reaps what he has not sown. In the line ‘as if though harvested yourself …formed by blood and bone…’ the speaker explores the pain on the people who sowed the seeds of the burley that ‘you’ harvesting selfishly.

The poem presents varied traditions of culture. These include storage in barn, farming and the use of hounds as a security measure. The poet has adopted the plain language in the poem that is simple and easy to understand. The use of naturalistic imagery and personification, for instance ‘corn is choked’, appeals to the audience and better presents the subject of the poem.

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