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The Sloth

By vs0816 May 09, 2010 470 Words
Sek Budapest International School


Work no.1

Poetry analysis

Song Yuan Shan


The poetry analysis of The Sloth by Theodore Roethke

The title of the poem ‘the sloth’ tells us that the poem is probably about the animal, that lives in South America. It’s probably a poem for kids to read.

In the first stanza the poet is talking about slowness. If you ask him something it takes him a year to realize that he’d been asked something. Next it says that all he does is hang on a tree upside down. Then it says that no matter you call him smug or insult him, he doesn’t care. He will still continue doing what he did before. In the last stanza he’s sleeping again swaying by his toes and just won’t bother to answer your question. But you just know that he knows he knows.

Every poem has another meaning beyond the literal one. In this poem the poet writes ‘he’ for an animal and not ‘it’, so actually he’s not really talking about animals. He’s referring to lazy humans. Throughout the whole poem the poet was describing a lazy person. They’re self-satisfied, that’s why they never change their behavior.

One way of achieving the qualities and making the words poetic is through poetic devices. It’s the technique or strategy a poet uses. It can help the poet or writer in developing cogent, e.g. the figures of speech. The poet was criticizing lazy people but he didn’t write it so obviously. He used metaphor. The poet also gives human characteristics to the sloth which is personification. For example: “he says, he thinks…”.“He thinks about it for a Year”. The poet is exaggerating here, which is a hyperbole. He also uses capital letters. This makes a rhythm, patterns of sound. In addition the word EX-as-per-at-ing is divided into syllables to emphasize the word and call special attention to it.

All lines rhyme in the poem. The sound of the last part of the word is identical in each stanza, so it’s a perfect rhyme. The tone of the poem could have been mean but he made it funny and friendly. The poet compared the lazy people to the lazy animals. The image I got after reading it a couple of times, is a stinky person watching TV on the couch while drinking coke and eating popcorn.

They won’t even do the basic things for living or to stay clean. They’re too lazy to do anything. They’re happy with the way they are. So the theme of the poem is laziness.


Total number of words : 438

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