Saturday, 29 April 2017

"Comment on the use of pun in the pulley" WAEC May/June 2017.

One of the reasons why the examination council has added this classic metaphysical poem to the list of recommended poetry for the 2016-2020 Literature-in-English syllabus is to ensure that the candidates sitting for the examination are able to comprehend the the poet's use of language, style and symbolism.

The question here is about the use of pun in The Pulley by George Herbert. It is true that George Herbert wrote the poem to show God's high level of supremacy over humankind. The poet c
hanneled his thoughts straight into the hearts of readers by employing some elements of pun.

A pun can be defined as a joke or kind of wordplay in which sounds, or words, or ideas are used to represent its primary meaning.

George Herbert, in the poem created a title that downplayed the serious matter of humans' mortality as he compared humans' habitual dependency on God to a pulley that draws human beings back to the creator; as seen in the poem, the insatiable wants of humans keep pulling them back to God.

Besides the title and the message of the poem, the chosen words of the poet are playful; particularly the way the poet placed "man" "cup of blessing" "span" "weariness" "toss" within the context of the poem to prove that without God, human beings are nothing.

Few prove of playfulness in the poet's lines are:-
When God at first made man,
Having a glass of blessings standing by,
“Let us,” said he, “pour on him all we can.
Let the world’s riches, which dispers├Ęd lie,
Contract into a span.”


Samuel C. Enunwa aka samueldpoetry
(the Leo with wings flying)


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