The piece of poetry I am analysing is an Italian Sonnet called Madonna Mia, by Oscar Wilde. This poem does not deviate from the Italian Sonnet formula; a formula consisting of a stichic syllabic structure, and stressing according to a pentameter – that is, each verse line is 10 syllables, five of which are stressed. Furthermore, this poem, being an Italian Sonnet, is divided into two sections: “an eight-line `octave’ of two quatrains, rhymed [abbaacca], followed by a six-line `sestet’ usually rhymed [cdeced]” (Baldick, p239).
This poem, however, is not only in accord with the rules of Italian Sonnets; it is also in accord with the grammatical rules of English. For example, all of the caesuras coincide with punctuation in the poem. Furthermore, there is no use of inversion, nor is there much use (or abuse) of poetic license: the poem is, simply, a rhyming, metaphorical story. Techniques, such as enjambment, are used sparingly; and, because of the sparseness of these techniques, they effectively call attention to their respective portions of the poem. For example, the only line that is enjambed in the poem is the second last line; thus, I surmise that enjambment is used by Wilde to generate a strong ending.
The overall sound of this poem is, in my opinion, highly complex. Not only does Wilde rhyme according to the Italian Sonnet rhyming scheme, but within each sentence, Wilde also includes alliteration, consonance, assonance, and additional rhymes. Examples of consonance and alliteration are on line seven with the repetition of the consonant sound t: “white throat, whiter than the.” Assonance, in this poem, is used quite extensively. One of the best examples is on line nine where Wilde generates assonance between …
… attached to this paper – Beatrice is the woman in the middle). Thus, the man’s feelings in the peom are exhibited by a direct simile.
Oscar Wilde (1854-1900). Poems. 1881.
A LILY-GIRL, not made for this world’s pain,
With brown, soft hair close braided by her ears,
And longing eyes half veiled by slumberous tears
Like bluest water seen through mists of rain:
Pale cheeks whereon no love hath left its stain,
Red underlip drawn in for fear of love,
And white throat, whiter than the silvered dove,
Through whose wan marble creeps one purple vein.
Yet, though my lips shall praise her without cease,
Even to kiss her feet I am not bold,
Being o’ershadowed by the wings of awe.
Like Dante, when he stood with Beatrice
Beneath the flaming Lion’s breast, and saw
The seventh Crystal, and the Stair of Gold.