The Glance

Title: The School of Night
Genre: Poetry
Poet: Alec Derwent Hope
Gender: Masculine
Category: Life and Living
Style: Free Verse
Theme: Night
Stanza: Three
Dominant Device: Metaphor
Diction: Simple
Tone: Revealing
Alternative: The Schoolboy
More Poems From Poet: Death of the Bird

Poet and Summary

Regarded as one of the best Australian poet and essayist, Alec Derwent Hope was born in New South Wales in the year 1907 into a family of a Presbyterian minister but departed earth in the year 2000.

In his 3 stanza poem title "The School of Night", nighttime became a learning classroom where the voice of the poem was given tough lessons. Looking at the structural arrangement, each stanza consists of 6 lines.

The same manner a teacher or an instructor will open a book in front of a pupil to start reading; someone who was later regarded as a scholar open his body to the poet with either an overture or a kiss (as seen in lines 2-4):

"When your mouth's first unfathomable yes
Opened your body to be my book, I read
My answers there and learned the spell aright,"

The poet learnt through "The School of Night" the true lesson of love, affection, companionship and more. During her learning session, she acquired "answers there and learned spell aright" as expected yet the education was far too complex for her total understanding.

In the same "School of Night" the voice of the poem expressed her awareness via the tool of symbolism that she learned the ways of the mosquitoes (a vampire baby), the ways of a sleeping little girl, the ways of the nostrils (the whispers), the arms (the grave somnambulists), the penis (the giant who broods above the nightmare steep), etc.

The final stanza of the poem described ejaculation with a metaphorical analogy. Where the male was compared to a scholar, his penis was compared to a pen and his seminal fluid was compared to blood, the poet's body was compared to book page where text were written.

"They taught me most. The scholar held his pen
And watched his blood drip thickly on the page
To form a text in unknown characters
Which, as I scanned them, changed and changed again:
The lines grew bars, the bars a Delphic cage
And I the captive of his magic verse."

The context of the poem reveals a sexual experience described through literary genius.

Devices and Messages

This a poem of metaphor. The poem commenced by comparing the nighttime to a school where teaching and learning is done. "the bars a Delphic cage" is another instance of metaphor in the poem, "his blood drip thickly on the page" is an instance of imagery while the use of "Delphic" in line 17 is a classical allusion.

There are repetitions such as "searched and searched" in line 5 and "changed and changed" in line 16, rhetorical question such as "What did I study in your School of Night?" in line 1,

And in line 4 "spell" is a word that seems to have more than one meaning in the poem.

"When your mouth's first unfathomable yes/
Opened your body to be my book"
Both lines, not only form tautology, they also reside in ambiguity. Tautology in the sense that "unfathomable yes" seems unnecessary phrase while "your mouth's first unfathomable yes opened your body" could either be referring to a kiss or an overture.

The messages of the poem are channeled towards the possible happening during the nighttime, the effect of lovemaking, the natural tendency of human to acquire teaching or learning at any given time.

The poem employed the following words to emphasize the timing of events "night" in line 1, "sleep" in line 7, "nightmare" in line 10. "My book" in line 3, "his pen" in line 13, "form a text" in line 15, "magic verse" in line 18; all provided a schooling atmosphere.

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Enunwa Chukwudinma S. aka samueldpoetry
(the Leo with wings flying)

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