Ships in the Night
I love this particular song for many reasons. First of all, it represents a contemporary love song. Its words, although resonating with long established literary devices we have studied, are quite applicable to modern life. In the first stanza we see references to ships, night, storms, and lost time. These images are quite similar to sonnets of Petrarch, Spenser, and Wyatt. In the second stanza we see the intensity of the song pick up, with phrases such as “cannon balls fly” and “fist fly from my mouth.” Whether these represent an actual battle or an argument is unclear but what is clear is that this very literal battle on the ocean is meant to inform the reader of the trials the people in this song are enduring. In the third stanza we see a reference to a broken past, maybe even a specific relationship that has gone sour. The line “we’re just fumbling through the grey” could possibly be linked to Yeats’s “Twilight” poem. In the following line we also see another literary device emerge: paradox. In the line “we can feel so far from so close” the far and the close are juxtaposed against each other, something that would be characteristic of Petrarch’s writings. Additionally, we see links to Petrarch pop up in other places as we continue with the examination of the lyric. The line “If it’s just you and me trying to find the light” reminds me of Petrarch’s line of “I remain despairing of the port”, and where his only “light” was the stars. As I stated earlier, what makes this lyric particularly interesting is the way it can blend references to past literary giants and still maintain cultural relevancy today. Words and phrases like “airport”, “red carpet”, “call you on the phone”, “driveway”, and “couch” all give the lyric a more contemporary feeling. Another intriguing point to make is that although there are many links to Petrarch, this lyric is decidedly more hopeful than any of Petrarch’s poems. In the second to last stanza...
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