To explicate poetry one must read and reread; investigate sounds as well as symbols, pay close attention to shape and architecture and to what is both written and implied. Formal poetry is a special language; it is a discourse of essence. Of the two poems elevated, one is much more deserving of a second reading.
In "Warning," Jenny Joseph shares a heartening look at growing old. While society may have found this particular piece of poetry endearing enough to vote it a favorite in 1996, the popularity the poem has enjoyed is based on sentimentality. The piece does have a whimsical tone, however, which helps to attract the commercial masses. Indeed, it has been used as verse for greeting cards and also reprinted many times and framed for decoration.
The author employed tactics that guide the reader to identify with her. Repeatedly using "I" in the first stanza, she pouts about all the fun she has neglected in life. In the second stanza, she shifts to the use of "you" incorporating the audience in her scheme and in essence giving approval to do those actions. In the third stanza, speaking of responsibilities an adult does, the "I" and "you" are suddenly joined and "we" become a team. Finally, she shifts back to "I", (here comes the "Warning") she is going to start now. .
The most accurate phrase to describe this poem is "reader friendly." It requires no second reading to uncover hidden or allusive meanings. It is simple, gushy, self-indulgent and flat. .
In "Sailing to Byzantium," William Butler Yeats expresses a desire to transcend his aging body and mind. However, he uses insightful imagery rich with emotion to communicate his message. Yeats describes a society of people who live for the moment and ignore the wisdom and intellect that he finds important. .
He allows his frustration to be evident in the lines "Consume my heart away; sick with desire and fastened to a dying animal." The disillusionment he feels can only be relieved by a "heaven" which is symbolized by Byzantium.