Charlotte Mew, “The Farmer’s Bride”

1. What is the poem’s stanza form and rhyme scheme? How do these change to fit the content of the poem?

2. How is the poem altered by the fact that it is told entirely from the point of view of the farmer? What do we know about the wife?

3. Is it significant that the narrator is a farmer? What seem to be his traits?

4. What are some significant instances of diction or imagery?

5. What seems the poem’s underlying themes? To whom are the reader’s sympathies directed?

6. What relationship does this monologue bear to other dramatic monologues we have read?

“The Trees are Down”

1. What is added by the epigraph in the voice of an angel?

2. What is the poem's subject?

3. What are some features of the poem’s line lengths and rhythms? How do these change as the speaker recalls the events she/he is describing? How does the poet convey assonance?

3. What is the sequence of the poem's thought?

4. What do we learn about the trees in stanza one? About the men who are cutting them down? Will these dualities reappear later in the poem?

5. How does the speaker's memory of a dead rat convey her mood? Why are her views not presented more directly, or in the present tense?

6. What do we learn about the cutting down of the tree itself? How is this stanza onomatopoeic?

7. How do the rhythms of stanza 4 reinforce the speaker’s thoughts? What has been the significance of this destruction?

8. What does it mean to say that Spring is going now? (st. 5) Which elements of nature are going with it?

9. What are important images from the final stanza?

10. What contrasts are embedded in the final lines? Are they effective?

11. Have other poets we have read shown a concern with similar themes?

“The Cenotaph”

1. What is a cenotaph? To what does the expression refer in this instance, and how is the word choice significant?

2. What are some irregularities of the poem’s rhyme and rhythm, and are these intentional? How do these rhythms and rhymes alter to reinforce its meaning?

3. What is the significance of opening with, “Not yet will those measureless fields be green again”? What fields are being referred to? What do those who have survived do to the “grave whose earth must hold too long, too deep a stain”?

4. What is the speaker’s tone in describing the cenotaph? How do we know what these deaths have meant to those in the neighborhood?

5. Whose hearts does the speaker assume will be broken, and for what reason?

6. What are implications of the judgment, “God is not mocked, and neither are the dead”?

7. What does the speaker consider the ironies of placing this memorial in the market square? What is wrong with the kind of bargains driven by “every whore and huskster”?

8. What is significant about the imagery of the Face? What does Mew’s speaker seem to believe about WWI and its aftermath? Or are her points more general?

“Domus Caedet Arborem”

1. What does the title mean? (domus=house, caedo, cadere=kill, murder) What is added by the use of Latin?

2. What is the poem’s rhyme scheme? Its use of rhythms, line length and indentation? Are these onomatopoeic?

3. Why is the poem set at night? Is the use of personification effective?

4. What is the poem’s point?

5. Does the poem’s simplicity reinforce its themes?

“Ken”

1. What are the stanza forms and rhymes schemes of this poem? How do they change, and how are these changes significant?

2. What is added to the poem by the knowledge that it was written about the institutionalization of Mew’s brother?

3. What details of the setting are given in stanza one?

4. What do we learn of Ken himself in stanza two? What is added by the details in stanzas three and four? Are these details intended to render him sympathetic?

5. Who seems to be the poem’s speaker, and what is his/her relationship to Ken? What is the effect of the use of “you”? What is the speaker’s attitude toward his/her subject?

6. What seems Ken’s attitude toward formal religion? What meaning does the crucifix seem to have for him?

7. What is unusual/imperfect about Ken’s perceptions of the relationship between wholes and parts? (st. 6) What significance does this seem to have?

8. What changes has the speaker recently observed in nature? Will these affect Ken?

9. In stanza 8, what is implied in the lines “I do not know”? What do we think will happen to Ken?

10. What final scene does the narrator recount? Where does this fit in the poem’s temporal sequence?

11. Why is it placed last, and does it form a fit conclusion to the poem?

“Fame”

1. What do you make of the rhythms and changing line lengths of this poem? How do they reinforce its meaning?

2. What seems to be the speaker's inner conflict? Does the speaker feel ambivalence about her two worlds?

3. What imagery is associated with “the over-heated house”? With the “heavenly places”?

4. How do you interpret the “little dream” in “our tossed bed,” which turns out to be a dead lamb?

5. What would you say is the poem’s final tone and meaning?

“Saturday Market”

1. What do you make of the poem’s rhythms and rhyme scheme? How are they related to its subject matter?

2. What are conventional associations with the title, “Saturday Market”? Are any of these overturned?

3. What are some arresting features/oddities of the opening stanza?

4. What are some striking or unusual features of the description of Saturday’s market in stanza 2? Are the people in the market contented? Do you make anything of the allusion to “silver pieces”?

5. Who seems to be the speaker? What is her/his relationship to the person who is enjoined to “bury your heart in some deep green hollow”? What is her/his relationship to the market people?

6. What are some grotesque features of the removed heart? What has caused its excision?

7. What images does Mew use to describe death? What is added by the use of the imperative voice, and the sense of a split subject?

8. What is added by the poem’s final stanza? Which aspects of life does the poet seem to find valuable, and what relationship do these bear to human/social life?

9. Do the themes or imagery of this poem remind you of other Mew poems you have read? What are some ways, if any, it seems distinctive?

“Smile, Death”

What is the poem’s setting? Its central images?

What is its tone? What contributes to the effects of eerieness and dissonance?

What is added by the use of two different stanzas, and how are the changes in rhythm and stanza form between the first and second stanzas significant?

How do you interpret the speaker’s claim that “Nothing on earth to me was like this wind-blown space" . . . whose eyes “were not always kind”?

Is the ending happy? What is implied in the assurance that “we will not speak of life or believe in it or remember it as we go”?

Is this poem effective in portraying a state of mind? Does it remind you of other poems you have read?

“The Forest Trees”

What seems the tone and meaning of this poem? What mental states does it seem to convey?

What net of images does it present?

Which aspects of the poem are/may be ambiguous? For example, what is the “shadow there that sings and calls/ But not for you”?

What are the speaker's problems, and is she sane?

What does the speaker seem to desire? What images are associated with the loved one? Are these familiar from other Mew poems we have read?

What past associations does the speaker have with the object of her/his anxiety?

Who is/what is associated with the Spirit who sits by us in sleep?

What final scene seems to occur between the speaker and her/his loved one? Why does she say to "you" that she has struck its heart? Why do you think the "you" lies bleeding on the snow, and what is the speaker's relation to the murdered one? Are they separate persons?

How do you interpret the ending? Now that the other one/self is dead, what do you make of the speaker’s claim that she sees her shadow, her soul, singing among the trees?

Would you describe the ending as affirmative?

What kind of mental state is being described? Are the ambiguities of language appropriate? How do they reflect the speaker’s inner consciousness?

Final questions:

What are some reiterated themes in Mew’s poetry? Some aspects of her view of language?

In chronology, Mew was both a Victorian and modern poet; she wrote from the 1890s through the 1920s. Can you see resemblances between her work and that of other poets we’ve read?

In what ways does her poetry seem to resemble that of other Victorian poets, and what seem new features?