Grammar of Light

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The Potential of Language
Light can take on many different forms, some more prominent than others. This concept is explored through the poem, “The Grammar of Light”, written by Carol Ann Duffy. The title itself is a metaphor as the term ‘light’ is being compared to language and how it can be structured in several different ways. As grammar is the study of how language is structured, Carol Ann Duffy uses the structure of light to emphasize language’s potential and/or its limitations. Because light is shown through many different aspects in life, it provides the reader a more meaningful understanding of language. How can light/language literally be defined when it could mean nothing at all or everything at the same time? Language is something that cannot be entirely understood but can still be something that one can learn about. With the use of personification, alliteration, and other literary devices, Carol Ann Duffy takes the perceptions of light and stresses this theme, giving the reader a poem that is open to many different interpretations. Essentially, this shows that language can also be interpreted in many different ways which adds on to the tension of what the potential and meaning of language really is. The poem is arranged into five stanzas, each with its own setting and time of day to unify the whole literary piece into one length of time; a day. It starts from one midnight to the next, taking the reader through a journey that could possibly be compared to the length of one’s lifetime. The first stanza starts its time during the late night. This is evident because the speaker addresses the way light works in the dark. The first two lines could be understood as two lovers are trying to find each other in the dark but there is enough light from them to ‘bless’ them with a ‘meaningless O’ which could represent a kiss between the two lovers. A kiss itself is meaningless but because the lovers were able to find each other, the light allowed them to “[teach...
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