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9&60 Ways - Apostrophe

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Old 09-30-2008, 09:19 PM
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Default 9&60 Ways - Apostrophe


In poetry, apostrophe is when the poet turns from the audience to address a person, quality, or abstraction. The ancient Greek author Homer used apostrophe to address characters in his work, and many authors since have used it as well.

Apostrophe comes with certain conventions that make it easier for readers to know who the poet is talking to. For instance, apostrophe will often begin by naming what’s being addressed: "Thou still unravished bride of quietness, / Thou foster-child of silence and slow time," says Keats in "Ode on a Grecian Urn" (1820). The honorific "o" is often used in front of the addressee. (Don’t confuse "o" with "oh". "O" is a form of address, while "oh" is an interjection.) You can also use capital letters to name abstractions: Time, Love, Beauty, Evil.

Shakespeare uses apostrophe to convey intense emotions. Here’s an example from "Julius Caesar":

"O, pardon me, thou bleeding piece of earth,
That I am meek and gentle with these butchers!
Thou art the ruins of the noblest man
That ever lived in the tide of times."

Walt Whitman uses it too. In "O Captain! My Captain" he addresses Abraham Lincoln thus:

O Captain my Captain! our fearful trip is done;
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won

This month, address someone or something. Have you ever wanted to have a word with a tree? A concept? A historical figure? Apostrophize! Questions and comments about this lesson go in this thread. Your work can be posted as a separate thread with "Apostrophe" in the title.

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Old 10-10-2008, 10:19 AM
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I've been trying to have a go at this, honest, Hoi! Not too sure whether it's right. Doesn't look right, doesn't feel right, so more than likely it isn't blummin right...
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Old 10-10-2008, 10:22 AM
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So the apostrophing only a small part of the whole, as opposed to the entire poem being addressed to whomever? Sorry to be thick, but I hadn't even realised there was a name for this! Lol.
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Old 10-10-2008, 10:24 AM
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Had to go check it my lit' companion thing

Last edited by Jarin; 10-10-2008 at 10:27 AM..
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Old 10-10-2008, 10:30 AM
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Oh, so do you have the answer, Jarin? *she asks hopefully*
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Old 10-10-2008, 10:45 AM
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Finger's still sore from looking up assonance
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Old 10-10-2008, 10:53 AM
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Well, I found these, but they don't say whether it's the whole poem or not.
apostrophe Words that are spoken to a person who is absent or imaginary, or to an object or abstract idea. The poem God's World by Edna St. Vincent Millay begins with an apostrophe: “O World, I cannot hold thee close enough!/Thy winds, thy wide grey skies!/Thy mists that roll and rise!”
APOSTROPHE: Not to be confused with the punctuation mark, apostrophe is the act of addressing some abstraction or personification that is not physically present: For instance, John Donne commands, "Oh, Death, be not proud." King Lear proclaims, "Ingratitude! thou marble-hearted fiend, / More hideous when thou show'st thee in a child / Than the sea-monster." Death, of course, is a phenomenon rather than a proud person, and ingratitude is an abstraction that hardly cares about Lear's opinion, but the act of addressing the abstract has its own rhetorical power. An apostrophe is an example of a rhetorical trope.




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Old 10-10-2008, 11:26 AM
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Ahhh, the old addressing abstract and personification...
'Ode to schizophrenic Apostrophe' sounds like a good place to start. Then again. I like your 'age' sig', Q, might have a go at, erm, having a go with time... *mumbles* always addin' more blummin wrinkles, she is. Didn't say that too loud, did I?
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Old 10-10-2008, 04:43 PM
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You can use apostrophe for a whole poem, or just a few lines in a poem, whatever you want! For instance, when what's-his-name addresses "thou bleeding piece of earth", he does so briefly before returning to his conversation.

Think of it as one of many poetic tools. You can use it however you like!
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Old 10-10-2008, 04:46 PM
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Thank you, HoiLei! Perhaps I'll try this one in a while. Need to think of someone to address my thoughts to first, though.
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