Piazza Piece by John Crowe Ransom

1546 Words7 Pages
Poetry is a condensed form of language. It says very much in very few words. The ways that make possible this “linguistic economy” are many. Let us take John Crowe Ransom’s “Piazza Piece” for example and see the various ways in which the poet has managed to enrich his meaning. Here is the text of the poem: Piazza Piece
--I am a gentleman in a dustcoat trying
To make you hear. Your ears are soft and small
And listen to an old man not at all;
They want the young men’s whispering and sighing.
But see the roses on your trellis dying
And hear the spectral singing of the moon;
For I must have my lovely lady soon,
I am a gentleman in a dustcoat trying.

--I am a lady young in beauty waiting
Until my truelove comes, and
…show more content…
The former complains that the latter will not listen to him and so he has to remind her of her transient life, boasting meanwhile that he will have her soon. But the young lady continues, of course, to refuse the old gentleman (young ones simply cannot accept the idea of death). As the old man is forever trying to make the young lady hear, so the lady is forever waiting for the coming of her truelove. She has to reject her repulsive suitor by threatening to scream upon the suitor’s further advance. But ironically, we know, the “coy mistress” may really wait until she dies; her truelove may turn out to be her rejected constant wooer: Death.

This irony contains a serious truth (the final succumbing of youth and beauty to death). But on the stage of this little poetic drama we see only a comic (even farcical) scene between a forward old Jack and backward young Jill. Accordingly, a mock-serious tone is established in the poem.

The light tone is rendered with the aid of the sound effect in the poem. Instead of the usual rhyme scheme abba abba cde cde, we have here abba acca a’dd c’c’a’, where “a’” shares with “a” the sound “-ing” and “c’” shares with “c” the sound “-m.” This, together with other abundant sound repetitions in the lines, makes the poem alive with jocular atmosphere.2

Besides helping to lighten the tone, the sound repetitions in the poem can also echo its sense. In the

    More about Piazza Piece by John Crowe Ransom

      Get Access