About Tone

A poem's tone is the attitude that its style implies. Brian Patten's 'A Blade of Grass' has a tone of sad acceptance toward the loss of childlike wonder that could have accepted the blade of grass, for example; 'The Happy Grass', by Brendan Kennelly, has instead a hopeful tone toward the prospect of peace that the grass represents, tempered by an awareness that there will be graves on which the grass will grow.

Tone can shift through a poem: 'A Barred Owl', by Richard Wilbur, has a first stanza with a comforting, domestic tone, and a second that insists this kind of ...

A poem's tone is the attitude that its style implies. Brian Patten's 'A Blade of Grass' has a tone of sad acceptance toward the loss of childlike wonder that could have accepted the blade of grass, for example; 'The Happy Grass', by Brendan Kennelly, has instead a hopeful tone toward the prospect of peace that the grass represents, tempered by an awareness that there will be graves on which the grass will grow.

Tone can shift through a poem: 'A Barred Owl', by Richard Wilbur, has a first stanza with a comforting, domestic tone, and a second that insists this kind of comfort plays a vicious world false. The shift in tone is part of what is enjoyable about the poem.

U. A. Fanthorpe's 'The Master of the Cast Shadow' begins in a tone of admiration for the painter's skill, but moves into a tone of unease toward the way that skill hides the history behind the images.

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An example of Tone

The Master of the Cast Shadow – an extract from the sequence Consequences - U A Fanthorpe
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