Saturday, May 28, 2011

Model Poem: The Apology

he Apology narrated by Ralph Wardo Emerson is suitable for Junior High School students in term of content. However, the sentences must be simplified because there are so many difficult words which have connotative meanings. We can teach language feature used in these structures of poem in the form of request, how to make an apology, and how to make an invitation. Besides that, we can also teach grammar about simple present tense, simple past tense, future tense, and conditional sentence. The following analysis is started by presenting the poem.

The Apology

Think me not unkind and rude,
That I walk alone in grove and glen;
I go to the god of the wood
To fetch his word to men.

Tax not my sloth that I
Fold my arms beside the brook;
Each cloud that floated in the sky
Writes a letter in my book.

Chide me not, laborious band,
For the idle flowers I brought;
Every aster in my hand
Goes home loaded with a thought.

There was never mystery,
But 'tis figured in the flowers,
Was never secret history,
But birds tell it in the bowers.

One harvest from thy field
Homeward brought the oxen strong;
A second crop thine acres yield,
Which I gather in a song.

Author: Ralph Waldo Emerson

1.  Overview
     "The apology” is considered as model poem, since it has an implied meaning as an act to apologize for doing something inconvenient. This poem is kind of model poem which is perfect in term of rhyme scheme, rhythm, and stanza. The poem consists of 5 stanzas and each stanza has 4 lines which is called quatrain. The analysis of the poem includes its structure as well as its content. In case of structure, the poem will be elaborated on how the poetic devices and poetic diction are utilized, so that we, as the reader of the poem, can easily understand what actually the author wants to say.
2.  Poetic Devices
     a. The Rhyme:      
          -    Stanza 1   : A-B-A-B
          -    Stanza 2   : A-B-A-B
          -    Stanza 3   : A-B-A-B
          -    Stanza 4   : A-B-A-B
          -    Stanza 5   : A-B-A-B
     b. Rhythm:
         Most of the first line in each stanza applies dactylic tetrameter because it consists of 1 accented followed by 2 accented, except in stanza 4 and 5.
     c. Alliteration:
          -    S1-L2  : That I walk alone in grove and glen
          -    S1-L3  : I go to the god of the wood
          -    S2-L2  : Fold my arms beside the brook
          -    S3-L2  : For the idle flowers I brought
          -    S4-L2  : But 'tis figured in the flowers
          -    S4-L4  : But birds tell it in the bowers
          -    S5-L1  : One harvest from thy field
     d. Repetition:
          -    and…..    (S1-L1, S1-L2)
          -    I ………   (S1-L2, S1-L3, S2-L1, S3-L2, S3-L2, S5-L4)
          -    my ….      (S2-L2, S2-L4, S3-L3)
          -    in …….    (S1-L2, S2-L3, S2-L4, S3-L3, S4-L2, S4-L4, S5-L4)
          -    but  ……. (S4-L2, S4-L4)
         We highlight the repetition of “I and my” which refer to the author himself, “never” refer to author’s emphasis on his statement in telling the truth.
3.  Kind of Stanza
     The poem consists of 5 stanzas and each stanza has 4 lines which is called quatrain.
4.  Poetic Diction
     a. Few of the sentences in this poem are denotative, In this poem, Ralph Waldo Emerson uses dictionary meaning for the words chosen. The words such as think, unkind, rude, mystery, secret, history and etc can be understood literally, and only three sentences that contains denotative meaning, such as in
          -    S1-L2: Think me not unkind and rude,
          -    S4-L1: There was never mystery,    
          -    S4-L3: Was never secret history
         Instead of denotation the author also employed connotation such as grove and glen. Grove and glen are the difficult way for ordinary people, not all people used to pass there. God of the wood means God as the king of the universe or the owner of the universe.
     b. We can find personification in the following sentences:
          -   S2-L3/L4: “Each cloud that floated in the sky - Writes a letter in my book”. This means that every difficulty which everyone faced will always have a message that the God wants to deliver.
          -   S3-L2: “For the idle flowers I brought”(idle means lazy, can’t move, or unemployed), it can be interpreted as the truth that seems useless.
          -   S3-L3/L4: “Every aster in my hand - Goes home loaded with a thought”, means the truth that the author found still invite controversy among people.
          -   S4-L4: But birds tell it in the bowers, means everyone must be honest to tell the truth for whole people like birds.
          -   S5-L1/L2: One harvest from thy field - Homeward (s) brought the oxen strong; (Homeward means go (es) home), means the more goodness that we did, the more merit or reward the God will give.
5. Point of view: from the writer’s view on an endless journey to find the existence of God.
6. Theme: apology/ request.
7. Tone: hopeful
8. Symbol: We can find many symbols in this poem, such as:
     a.  Wood symbolizes the universe
     b.  Cloud symbolizes truth from the God
     c.  Flowers/ aster symbolizes truth
     d.  Birds symbolizes the honesty
     e.  Harvest/ crop symbolizes the goodness
     f.  The oxen strong symbolizes the great merit or reward from God
     g.  Song symbolizes the praise to God.
9. Message: We should be open minded to see another people in life even it seems peculiar because everyone has right to recognize and feel the existence of God.

To compare the above poem, here is the following model poem (apology) which is quite suitable for our students. The following is another example of model poem.

Please Forgive Me
By Joanna Fuchs

When I said what I said, I was wrong;
Please forgive me, and let’s start anew.
Our relationship means much to me.
I’m so sorry my blunder hurt you.

Though your memory may bring it back up,
Won’t you please try to put it away?
I’ll be tactful and sensitive now;
I’ll think of your needs every day.

Let’s go on with our lives as we were;
I’d take it all back if I could.
Let’s focus on positive things;
What we have is important and good.

Analyzed by Tori Satori and Ervin Lusiana
Picture by


  1. Thank you, This was really useful

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    ART 101 Entire Course


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