Poetry is a literary work, which provides ideas and expresses feelings with special intensity by the use of unique rhythm and style. They are condensed in nature with minimal use of words as observed in Crowe Ransom’s, “Piazza Piece”. The poem is a written as a Petrarchan sonnet. Not only the content of the poem (involving love) classified it as a Petrachan but also because of its form (being an octave and a sestet). Moreover, it is a sonnet because of the selected period where it refers to how love was treated in the ancient times. Ransom’s skills in dealing with traditional forms are illustrated through the attempted dialogue between a young woman and an elderly man. An explication of Ransom’s poem is important for an individual to understand the meaning that is presented through the characters’ argument on the qualities of opposite philosophical poses. This is achieved through identification of the theme, lesson, message and other contributions such as use of irony, metaphors and tone.

            Remoteness in era in the poem is suggested in both the title and its form. The form of the poem is related to the ancient era where they used both the octave and sestet structures. The title of the poem, “Piazza Place” is significant because it refers to the olden days where it was commonly used. It refers to a veranda or a porch in the southern part of the United States of America where Ransom was born. The name also means a public place or plaza in Italy.  Despite the wide differences in the meanings of the title, Piazza brings forth the images, which move the poem further.

            The Italian word signifies that the poem is Italian in nature; hence, it can be termed as an Italian sonnet. This enables the reader to refer the poem to the romantic aura in Medieval Italy. However, there is an unusual factor presented by the characters in the poem. It is vivid that the man is trying to court a young woman though he is not successful in attaining his wish. The characters seem to be neighbors because they share the same trellis. However, the two characters do not appear to be lovers because of the response given by the second speaker in the poem. This reason makes the scene appear rather symbolic, thus, the poem has a concealed feel to it.

Death and youthful beauty are themes used to display love as observed throughout the poem. Death is symbolized by the man who is trying to woo the young woman. The poem begins with the man introducing himself to the woman. The man is seen in a dustcoat (“Piazza” 1). However, the meaning of the dustcoat is not identified because it could mean either that the coat is full of dust or the dust refers to the color of the coat. The meaning can also be both. The young woman refers to the man as being gray (“Piazza” 11). Colors, gray and dust-color are a representation of death. Moreover, the man’s words are termed as being dry, faint and only few can hear it (“Piazza” 12). This fact presented by the speaker in the poem connects death to the man. Therefore, the man symbolizes death that will hold the youthful beauty its arms one day.

The woman in the poem symbolizes youthful beauty because of the different ways she has been termed such as lovely beauty, young in beauty and with soft ears. However, as the poem progresses, her beauty is compared to the dying roses on the trellis (“Piazza” 5). This is metaphorical because the beauty of the young woman is swayed by death. Personification of death by the man and young beauty by the woman in the poem creates the flow of the poem. The former finally boasts that he would eventually have her despite the latter’s denial to accept him as her lover (“Piazza” 7). Nonetheless, the woman continually rejects the old man stating that she is waiting for her true love and she further threatens to scream if the suitor continuous to pursue her (“Piazza” 13-14). Ironically, the woman might wait for her suitor for here entire life, who might turn out to be the old man she rejected. Irony used in the poem brings out the meaning that beauty and youthfulness are bound to succumb to death in the end. All people regardless of their beauty and age would eventually die.

Sound repetitions are used to lighten the tone of the poem. The sibilant sounds articulated by the old man in the octave suggest the tone he used. This is evidenced throughout the octave in the words dustcoat, soft, whispering, must, roses, and trellis and singing, which represent the cruelly ghostly murmurs of a senile suitor (“Piazza” 1-8). In the sestet, sibilant sound repetitions such as vines, kiss vines, scream, as, comes and words suggest that the tone of the woman is soft with high-pitched whispers at certain instances (“Piazza” 9-14). The sound repetitions provide the overall tone of the poem, which is light and mockery.

Aided by the sound effects, the tone presented in the poem can also be identified by the sound patterns. The rhyme scheme pattern is abba acca a’dd c’c’a’, where the c shares with c’ the sound, -m and a shares with a’ the sound –ing (“Piazza Piece” 1-14). This is different from the usual rhyme scheme pattern, abba abba cde cde as observed in most poems of this nature. The sound repetitions also have an impact on the rhyme pattern formed. The pattern together with the repetitive sounds is used to create a humorous atmosphere.

Additionally, persistency in courtship is presented by refrains from both the octave and the sestet. The woman is less interested in the man because he states that he is trying to make her hear him. Her aloofness towards the old man is also evidenced through his description of the woman’s ears. The man utters that he is trying as evidenced in the refrain of the octave and the first line (“Piazza” 1-8). This shows that he has been trying and he will keep on doing so. The woman refuses the proposal from the old man stating that she would be waiting for her true love. The verb waiting in the first line of the sestet and its refrain shows that she would keep on waiting (“Piazza” 14). This shows persistency from both characters in pursuing their intended goals.

Moreover, both refrains from the sestet and the octave are used in a syntactic technique. The verbs trying and waiting are often followed by an adjunct, which makes the statement complete. However, in both stanzas, adjuncts are absent. This is observed from the beginning of each stanza and in the refrain. Syntactic technique presents a continuous scenario by both speakers of the poem. This suggests that youthful beauty would continually wait for its true love whereas death would perpetually try to have the youthful beauty.

In conclusion, Ransom’s poem uses different means such as irony, verbal ambiguity, tone, personification; sound effects and verse form in order to generate an allegory that is double themed. An explication of the poem shows that the themes of the poem are courtly love and death. The created tension and the mocking tone of the man are used to develop the content of the poem. The meaning is drawn from the suggested remoteness in place and time, the opposing forces of death and young love and the simple language that has been used by the speakers of the poem.

Work Cited

Crowe, Ranson. “Piazza Piece.” Great Love Poems. Ed. Weller, Shane. 2nd ed. New York: Dover Publications, 1992. Print.

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