At Grass By Philip Larkin

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At Grass By Philip Larkin
Sound Devices & Rhythm

Regular rhyme pattern: In each stanza, there are rhymes on alternate lines, forming a regular pattern of efgefg, hijhij etc. Such regularity seems to suggest a sense of restriction which echoes with the confinement human beings impose on the racing horses for the pleasure of human entertainment. Assonance:

The use of repeated long vowels as in ‘shade’ (/ʃeɪd/), ‘tail’ (/teɪl/), ‘mane’ (/meɪn/) creates a gloomy atmosphere in the depiction of the setting where the once gloried but now anonymous horses are situated in at their age of retirement. Enjambment & alliteration:

In stanzas 2 and 3, most of the lines end with no punctuation but run onto the subsequent line. This creates a faster pace and rhythm to suggest the passing of time in stanzas 2 and 3, which recollect the now retired horses once competed for glory under the human gaze on the race track in the past. The use of alliteration in stanzas 2 and 3, as seen in the use of fricative (fifteen, fable, faint, faded), sibilance (silks, start, sky, squadrons, subside, stop-press, street), etc., also creates a strong sense of continuity which reinforces the passing of time as suggested by the use of run-on lines. In contrast, in stanza 4 almost every line ends with a punctuation, which contributes to a slower pace and rhythm when back to the present, namely the age of retirement of the horses.

Alliteration & onomatopoeia:
For example, in stanza 3 where the start and end of a horse race is described, sibilance (e.g. silks, start, sky) is used to depict a quiet start of the race. The hushing sound of alliterated words ‘hanging’ and ‘unhushed’ creates an onomatopoeic effect that highlights the intensity of the climatic moment when spectators were cheering for the horses which were approaching the finishing line. When the cheers subsided, sibilance is used again (e.g. subside, stop-press, street) to end the race with silence. This also...
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