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ENGL 1F95 Lecture Notes - Assonance, Aeneid, Simile

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Neta Gordon

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Critical analysis of the use of sound effects in
Rosenbergs The Silence of Women”
“In the second stanza ofThe Silence of Women,the speaker
describes the context for an older woman’s anger. The s-
sounds prevalent in the simile ‘words scattered like a sibyl’s
leaves’ (14), strengthen the idea that a woman’s words
amount to nothing but empty sound, just as the
prophecies of the legendary Sibyl in Virgil’s Aeneid have no
meaning once they have circulated in the world. Further,
the assonance in the line ‘Voice thrown into a baritone
storm’ (15), picks up on the suggestion of a dire warning,
as the long-o sound in words like ‘thrown’ and ‘baritone’
give the effect of a lament. This sound effect echoes the
sense of the line, in which the image of the ‘baritone
storm’ is a vehicle in a metaphor describing the
overwhelming sound of men’s voices in the world. Thus,
Rosenbergs poem suggests that women are never silent,
but are rather silenced, which accounts for their increasing

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Closed Form versus Open Form
Closed forms, like the sonnet, consist of patterns
that are readily identifiable and sometimes have a
history (i.e. the patterns have become
It is important to remember, however, that even
in closed forms, the poet will often work to play
with patterns, such as rhyme or metric schemes.
This play should never be considered accidental,
as the disruption of a pattern will always produce
meaning (e.g. “The long love that in my thought
doth harbour”: the disruption of pentameter that
occurs in the phrase “long love” draws attention to
the idea of faithfulness and, arguably, monotony).
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