A Dancing Girl: Poem Analysis
Frances Sargent Osgood does a variety of things for ” A Dancing Girl” to accentuate the beauty of the dancer, whereas the paraphrase is quite bland and, obviously, not nearly as elegant in comparison to the way Osgood tells the story. The main things that are shut out of the paraphrase that I want to focus on are rhythm, imagery, word choice, and the overall artistry of the poem. These elements add poetic diction, create a predictable rhyme scheme, and add visualizations so that “A Dancing Girl” separates itself from being viewed as Just an average poem. Typically poetry has great rhythm.
It has to roll off the tongue, somewhat like a song.
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The four beats per line in each stanza of “A Dancing Girl” are also referred to as an iambic tetrameter rhythm. The four lines per stanza within this poem are also referred to as quatrains. Osgood keeps the iambic tetrameter tempo per each quatrain throughout the poem. It is a specifically designed rhythm, which allows this poem to flow effortlessly off the tongue. For example, “She spoke not; but, so richly fraught/With language are her glance and smile/That, when the curtain fell, I thought/She had been talking all the while” (21-24).
This stanza really captures the feel for the rhythm in the entire poem.
The ABAB rhyme scheme in each quatrain moves the rhythm forward in spite of punctuation or even meaning, in an effort to make the poem be felt and not Just read. The predictability of the AJA and BIB rhymes makes the poem flow much easier. For example, “Now gliding slow with dreamy grace/Her eyes beneath their lashes lost/Now motionless, with lifted face/ And small hands on her bosom crossed” (13-16).
The rhymes between grace/face, and lost/crossed fit the ABAB rhyme scheme. The beauty of the ABAB rhyme scheme is hat it helps keep a steady tempo by increasing anticipation of succeeding sounds. However, my paraphrase to lines 13-16 is anything but rhythmic.
“She glides with extreme grace/Her eyes were lost beneath her eyelashes/Her face did not move whatsoever/Her hands were crossed over her chest” (13-16). Now how moving was that…? The paraphrase comes nothing close to the original stanza, and that is the case for any scenario.
Not only is the rhythm left out, but also imagery is always lost when creating a paraphrase. Imagery is vital when putting together a poem. The first stanza is a prime example f imagery that is used in A Dancing Girl. When Osgood writes, “And but for those large, eloquent eyes/Where passion speaks in every glance/She’d seem a wanderer from the skies” (2-4). She even has to remind you that this dancer is from earth by referring to her “large, eloquent eyes” so that you don’t start to think that this amazing dancer is actually Just an angel from heaven.
The way Osgood talks about this dancer if she didn’t add the human qualities to the poem it would not be hard to mistake this dancer for an angel. In A Dancing Girl the entire poem is written with an ambic pentameter rhythm that when it is read aloud, it sounds like a dancer tapping her feet and moving along to a beat. This is referred to as oral imagery. While I have already discussed how imagery and rhythm are left out of the paraphrase, figurative language and word choice are Just more things that are not heard when paraphrasing. ompared to other pieces. For example she writes, “She comes”the spirit of the dance! /And but for those large, eloquent eyes/Where passion speaks in every glance/ She’d seem a wanderer from the skies” (1-4).
The word choice in this particular stanza is very unique. The words were chosen carefully so that Osgood can emphasize the extraordinary elegance and perfection of this dancer. Osgood wants you to know that this dancer is not any ordinary dancer, so she uses poetic diction and phrases/words things very different from how they would normally be.
When you compare lines 1-4 in the poem to my paraphrase of the lines, the difference in language is enormous. “Here the elegant dancer comes! /With her large, beautiful eyes/Her love for dancing shows in her face/Without them, she’d seem like an angel” (1-4). The message still gets across that this dancer has beautiful eyes and how she seems like an angel, owever the poetic diction that was in the poem is completely lost in the paraphrase.
What was once an art of a poem has now transformed into a mere summary of events.
There is nothing like a beautiful poem that flows effortlessly from the tip of your tongue. Rhythm, figurative language, and imagery are three essential pieces in forming a memorable poem. If every poem sounded like a super simple paraphrase, it would not be considered an art. A Dancing Girl would feel completely empty if it was worded like the paraphrase because all of these necessary elements and more are left out. Paraphrasing is truly the ugly form of poetry.