Flowers are blooming
Astonishment I have found
Oh, it never ceased.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011



            It is well known that in a variety of literary genres, the form of poetry has been stressed most. Efforts have been exerted on the skillful combination of rhythm and structure to create numerous great works all over the world. Modern American poet E. E. Cummings (1884-1962) is a good case in point. He is famous for odd style, novel and unique form in the poetic world. His “l (a” has been regarded as the “the most elegant and beautiful structure of the literature created by Cummings”. (Kennedy, 1980). Therefore, his poems are renowned as “poem picture” or “visual poetry”, or the concrete poetry that we are quite familiar with. The features of it is that vivid visual images of words coming from irregular syllables, letters, punctuation, syntax, format and print strengthen the internal imagination of poetry, deepen the artistic conception, convey and enrich the connotation. (Abrams, 2005). Coincidentally, besides E. E. Cummings, contemporary British poet Roger McGough (1937- ) is another master in writing concrete poems. His 40-Love can be considered as one of the greatest concrete poems.
McGough is the second of the three in Liverpool Group. The other two are Henry Adrian Henri and Patan Brian Patten. McGough, born in 1937, 5 years younger than Henry, is always in naughty mentality. His poems are full of secular fun and display more profound life from the perspective of a child. This article, from the viewpoint of stylistics, analyzes the features of structure, words, phonology, syntax and rhetoric in the poem of “40-Love” in order to gain a deeper understanding of this poem.

40-Love (Peng, 2000)
middle                  aged
couple                  playing
ten-                       nis
when                    the
game                     ends
and                        they
go                           home
the                         net
will                         still
be                           be –
tween                   them

The poem has a total of 20 words. There is no punctuation mark in the whole poem to indicate that life of marriage is closed and uninteresting. The two words “tennis” and “between” are separated by hyphens to be symmetric in structure. The words in the poem are set in two sequences, like two sides of the couple. The middle blank is like a net to separate the two. There are only two words in each line to symbolize the bouts of the ball. The title of 40-love, the top of the net, is right on the top of the poem, signifying the scoreboard. This poem looks like a tennis court with a net being used to separate the words. It is like a tennis game. This side serves and the other side hits back.

The words between and tennis are separated by hyphens to get a metaphorical meaning that there is an invisible net in the world of the man and the woman. The same goes with the structure of the poem. Words in the poem are basically monosyllabic. The words are boring to read which suggest that the life of the couple is dull. The figure of 40 stands for the age of middle-aged people. And 40-Love is a scoring term in tennis. Tennis scoring is love, 15, 30 and 45 in sequence. Love here means zero. Three goals scores 40. No goals, no score. Thus, the title is of pun with two meanings. One refers to be 40-year-old love and the other is 3:0. Whether 40-year-old love is vain or not depends on attitudes of the two parties.

The /i/ is used many times in the poem to leave an impression of urgent emotional crisis of the middle-aged couple. The /ā/ is employed to slow down the speech rate and to demonstrate that the couple have become calm in dealing things. The /ī/ in between leaves enough time for the couple in crisis to think over the issue.
Rhymes in the poem: middle, couple; ten, when; will, still
Alliterations: be, be-; tween, them

Playing is used unconventionally. Trying to imply that there is the absence of communication between the couple. If plays is used, then the couple might not have gap between them since they are often playing tennis rather than occasionally. The conjunction but in front of the sentence: “the net will still be between them” was omitted to indicate that the life of the couple is no longer happy nor sad. It’s as if the two are tired of each other’s sentiments.

METAPHOR: The space between the two columns is like an invisible net which suggests to be the gap between the couple.

            This poem written by McGouph with unique style has rich connotation in its unique form. In this poem with perfect combination of the spirit and form, the emotional gap of the middle-aged couple can be discerned and expressed by the stylistic techniques in the structure, words, phonology, syntax and figure of speech. In Mending Wall, a poem written by American poet Robert Frost, the neighbor is intransigence and stubborn. Even at the last line of the poem, he still murmurs that "good fences make good neighbors" (GU, 2005). Every couple, therefore, especially the middle-aged couples, should pull the fence between them down, believing "good communication makes good couples”.

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