Swan and Shadow

Length: 1 Pages 242 Words

In the poem “Swan and Shadow,” John Hollander makes use of several visual images in order to emphasize the beauty and meaning of his poem. Some of the phrases seem broken, such as, “No of water Or something across / Breaking up No Being regathered,” but these phrases seem to imitate the startle of wings when a swan is preparing to take flight, which cou Continue...


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Also, the phrase "even after this bird this hour both drift by atop the perfect sad instant now reads horizontally as if a swan is floating across one's line of vision. The capitalization of certain words shows the beginning of sentences, yet most capitalization is placed in the bottom part of the poem, perhaps illustrating the disjunct ripples in the reflection of a swan serenely drifting. The placing of the words also serves to imitate a call-and-response technique, answering the questions what, when, and where. The poem's tone is sad and lovely, imitated by the juxtaposition of phrases into a swan and its reflection, alone and beautiful. It even says that the swan leaves the "vast pale hush of a place. The cut off phrases illustrate the blurriness of the water, of how hard it is to look at a reflection and see exact details of a reflected object. The surreal feeling of not being certain about anything parallels with the ripples and blurriness of the reflection, with the dreamlike beauty of the swan's swim.