He Who Sleeps On My Lap - Part 2
The subject in this poem is the perplexity of the homosexual guy’s emotion to his male friend - He Who Sleeps On My Lap introduction. This is about a homosexual guy who has desires for his male friend but is unwilling to reveal his emotions for fear of condemnation and mockery from his friends, family and community. The persona’s feelings are at war with himself.
He is willing to take the risk of his lifetime to be able to show his friend the depth of his feelings but yet again, he is afraid of the consequences that will come about with the revelation knowing full well that his friend doesn’t want to entertain other sexual possibilities and is also in love with somebody else, and a girl at that. In the final analysis, his fear won over his love. We find the persona unable to conquer his dilemma.
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Knowing the mind-set of his friend regarding sexual relationships, that the only correct thing is that between a man and a woman, he already assumed that a relationship with him will never be possible, that his dream will never come true. As what we’ve understood, the persona is a homosexual man who hides his real self from the society. At first, the tone is argumentative because we see the persona trying to show the guy that there are other possibilities for a relationship, not just between a man and a woman. This will be supported by the line: “He says he is a man and a man needs a woman and I disagree.
We argue until he grows tired of talking and sleeps on my lap on this chilly night“. The poem also shows a tone of sadness because of a dream that will never come true. It is also wistful for what could be and this will be supported by the line: “I am here slaughtering one wicked wish that when he wakes up I shall be his dream”. From that line itself, it shows that the persona really harbours the thought that his love could be given back in return. But then again, he is afraid to show his real feelings knowing that the guy is in love with somebody else.
So, he will content himself with just being friends and therefore containing his emotions. As we go through the poem, we see some words that we do not just take at literal value but look for a deeper meaning of the word/words. The word “sleep” in the poem implies a closed mind not yet ready to explore other possible sexual relationships. It is like when you are asleep, you do not know what is going on around you and it is in a way showing that you are not entertaining ideas that are contrary to yours. And so because you do not want to belabour the issue, you end the argument by going to sleep.
It can be construed as a sign of weakness because you will not sit out and discuss the issue. You don’t want anything to be changed so ignoring is the solution that you’d rather undertake. By the use of the word “slaughtering”, the persona shows very fierce desire towards his male friend because he could have used simpler words such as “ending”. Instead, he used a very harsh word such as “slaughtering” which is really very brutal. The words “sleeps gently on my lap” imply that the guy has total trust on the persona. Their friendship is too deep and they are very comfortable with one another.
So, we will assume that the guy does not know that the persona is a homosexual. Or, should we say, that he would rather forget it and act as if nothing happened. He is already happy with their relationship and he doesn’t want to change anything so he refuses to talk about it more which is why he would rather sleep than discuss the issue. As for our opinion, we can really say that he chose the right words, words that can push us to look deeper, words that can show vivid pictures of what is really going on and how he is really feeling.
We assume that the scene happened in the persona’s house at night probably in the porch. This will be supported by the words “on this chilly night. ” We can also picture a cold wind blowing. That is why the scene could not have taken place inside the house, otherwise they would not feel the chill. The mood in this poem is a love that is doomed. The persona loves his male friend but he is unable to really express it due to their conflicting beliefs. His male friend believes that a man needs a woman and he believes otherwise. He argues with his friend but to no avail so we can say that it is a love that is doomed.
It is a love that can never be due to conflicting beliefs and also because of the persona’s fear that if he will reveal his real self, he might not be accepted by the society and he could lose the friendship he deeply treasures. So, he is trying his very best to kill his emotions knowing that it will only cause him more pain if he will not stop it. Before we start to determine the cadence of the poem “He who sleeps on my lap”, let us first clarify what is cadence so that it won’t be hard for us to identify what is the tone of the poem. Cadence is a rhythmic sequence or flow of sounds in language.
It is where the beat changes its motion. It may be a poem, a story or a piece of music. It is the way a person’s voice changes by rising or falling while he or she is speaking. There is a rhythmic sequence of sounds or voices. For example, a soft and smooth voice gives the poem an evaluation of being lonely or sadness. Moreover it also gives the poem emotions and feelings. It gives the poem the quality of having the sensation of excitement, sadness, sorrow, grief, and joy. In the poem “He who sleeps on my lap”, the rhythmic sequence is sadness and sorrow. There is a slow motion of speaking.
The voice is falling gently because of the persona’s feeling of loneliness. Evidences that prove the poem’s sensational quality of sadness and fear of being alone are the words “My friend who sleeps on my lap loves someone else” which tells us that the persona is feeling down and sad, and the words “that I am here slaughtering one wicked wish that when he wakes up I shall be his dream” which gives the sensation of fear of admitting his feelings to the person. The slow motion of the persona’s voice here gives it the sense of emotion and sadness. Almost every word in the poem touches our heart.
We feel his heartbreak. We feel his aloneness knowing that he bears a problem that he cannot share with anybody due to fear of condemnation and we pity him for the burden that he is carrying. Sound devices are usually classified as consonance or assonance. Consonance is a pleasing combination of sounds; sounds in agreement with tone. It is the repetition of consonants within two or more words in sequence. It is often confused with alliteration, which is a type of consonance. Consonance in poetry serves many similar functions as alliteration as well as its own special functions.
Generally speaking, consonance in poetry provides varied auditory range. A stream of consonance serves the purpose of drawing the audience into the words. Consonance in poetry can take on an almost hypnotic beat that captivates the audience without being as obvious as alliteration. Using different types of consonance within a poem also prevents it from sounding like a child’s rhyme, unlike a poetic device such as alliteration. Consonance and assonance give a bounce to the poem. The repeated consonant is always on the stressed syllable, which creates an even more emphasized sound on the consonant words.
When mixed with other words within the phrase that has consonance, one’s voice naturally rises and dips, creating a “bouncing” sound. This sound naturally excites the ears and the brain. It gives the audience alertness and excitement. It will also help the audience to focus and avoid boredom. Assonance, on the other hand, is a rhetorical device often used in poetry to add a deeper sense of meaning to the imagery therein. It is usually defined as the repetition of vowel sounds within words or syllables. For example, the words “wait” and “stay” demonstrate assonance with each other because they both contain the same interior vowel sound.
The use of repeated vowel sounds within words and syllables is said to appeal to the ear of the reader and establish the writer’s artistic authority. Assonance is often found in poetry, where it generally helps the verse flow more smoothly. It is not generally considered an element of poetic form or structure. Instead, it is more often thought of as an extra poetic flourish. The use of assonance in poetry is generally considered to give the poet more creative leeway, and it can allow the poet to create an illusion of structure in poetry, which does not typically follow poetic conventions such as form or structure.
In the poem “He who sleeps in my lap”, consonance are commonly found with s form. Some end in s and when you hear the tone or the voice of the poem, s letters are commonly found. For example; the words sleeps, loves, someone, else, says, is, needs, disagree, grows, sleeps, sigh, loves, someone, else, still, sleeps, innocent, slaughtering, wish, wakes, and shall in the poem had more s sounds which gives it the quality of sadness and sorrow. It gives the audience attention and also for the audience to stay tuned in the poem. Assonance in the poem are found in the form of o, a, and e sound.
O sounds like someone, knowing, loves, on, on, of, argue, grows, woman, on, on, knowing, innocent, and slaughtering. A sounds like lap, Loves, someone, a man, and, a, man, a, and, disagree, and, lap, sigh, but, lap, not, that, am, one, up, that, shall, And, I, I, tired, until, and night. Even though most of them were not spelled as ”a”, they still have this quality of sound holding the a tone. E sounds like friend, sleep, else, He, says, he, is, needs, we, he, sleeps, this, chilly, he, else, still, sleeps, gently, here, wicked, wish, when, he, wakes, bed, dream, and his.
All of these words might not have similarities in the spelling but still have a, o, and e sounds similar to our senses of hearing. They all give the sense and flow of softness and smoothness in the poem. It gave the poem a quality of vowel sounds giving the poem a dense and smooth flow. Imagery is an important tool in poetry. When you hear the term imagery, you might think of visual images. Imagery, however, can and should involve at least one of the five senses: sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste.
Visual imagery includes the senses of sight, sound for auditory imagery, smell for olfactory imagery, touch for tactile imagery, and taste for gustatory imagery. Good poetry is generally rich in imagery. The reader can imagine actually seeing or hearing or touching the things described. Imagery shows rather than tells, which is important in good poetry. Imagery is often used in a poem to evoke emotions in the reader. A poem which describes a dark sky and oppressive, heavy air gives us a sense of foreboding. A poem about a braided rug on a polished floor, the color of honey and a crackling fire gives us a cozy, homey kind of feeling.
Every poem has imagery. It is the characteristic of the poem that makes it colorful and interesting. It makes the poem livelier and it pushes the reader to use his or her imagination. In the poem, visual, auditory and tactile are commonly found. Lines like “loves someone else”, “on this chilly night”, and “I shall be his dream” are visual imageries found in the text. The phrase “loves someone else” is considered as visual because it make you wonder who this woman really is and how she looks like. Next is the line “on this chilly night” which is very visual because you can imagine a night with a cold atmosphere.
Lastly, the words “I shall be his dream” which is visual because when you dream you see things and pictures popping on your mind and you see the involvement of imagination. Auditory imagery are also found in the line “he says he is a man, and a man needs a woman. And I disagree, we argue until he grows tired of talking, and I sigh” because there is an involvement of sounds. For instance when we argue, we speak and speaking involves producing sound which is considered as auditory. Same as the poem, if we were about to imagine it, there is an involvement of sound.
Tactile sensation or imagery on the other hand is the involvement of touch. For instance the sentence, “He is tapping your seatmate. ” is a tactile imagery. There is an interaction that takes place. In the lines “who sleeps on my lap”, “and sleeps on my lap”, and “but still sleeps gently on my lap”, you can see or imagine the interaction between the two individuals and there is a sensational touch involved. Sleeping on the lap of a person is thoroughly considered as tactile sensation. (references: http://www. wisegeek. com/what-is-assonance. htm http://www. wisegeek. com/what-is-consonance. tm http://voices. yahoo. com/the-imagery-poetry-1036321. html) Every poem consists different qualities of figures of speech.
Each of them has its unique way of making the poem interesting and attractive. The point of figures of speech in poetry is to give vividness or heighten the beauty of its style. Commonly words are employed in a nonliteral sense for special effects. In order for a poem to sound elegant certain figures of speech are applied like metaphor, hyperbole, synecdoche, simile, apostrophe, Chiasmus, Antithesis, Anaphora, alliteration, Ellipsis, irony and etcetera.
These figures of speech convey meanings or certain messages that are obfuscated in the language so that the reader can interpret multiple meanings from the verse. As for the poem “He who sleeps on my lap”, many types of figures of speech are used to make the poem vivid, elegant, attractive, interesting and beautiful and these are the following; alliteration, anaphora, caesura, ambiguity, and enjambment. As you can see in the line “My friend who sleeps on my lap loves someone else”, the repetition of the word “my” is an anaphora.
Moreover, in the line “He says he is a man and a man needs a woman and I disagree”, there’s also a repetition of the words “he” and “a man”, making it an anaphora. Anaphora is the repetition of the same word or phrase. Another figure of speech is ambiguity which is a word, statement, or situation with two or more possible meanings. For example, the lines found in the poem such as “he who sleeps on my lap” may give two or more meanings depending on the point of view of the reader. Caesura is also found in the poem.
It is the rhythmic break or pause in the flow of sound which is commonly introduced in about the middle of a line of verse, but may be varied for different effects. Usually placed between syllables rhythmically connected in order to aid the recital as well as to convey the meaning more clearly, it is a pause dictated by the sense of the content or by natural speech patterns, rather than by metrics. It may coincide with conventional punctuation marks, but not necessarily. In the line “And I sigh”, it pauses and takes a break and the flow of sound stops and resumes.
Lastly, a figure of speech which is enjambment is also found in the middle and in the last phrase of the poem. Enjambment is the running-over of a sentence or phrase from one poetic line to the next without terminal punctuation; the opposite of end-stopped. They are found in the phrases “that I am here slaughtering one wicked wish that when he wakes up I shall be his dream” and “we argue until he grows tired of talking and sleeps on my lap on this chilly night”. They run-over without pausing and without terminal punctuation.
It didn’t have punctuation instead it goes on continuously. The title, “He who sleeps on my lap” may seem to have a literal meaning. It could mean that if they have some time alone, they huddle together and be in that position as the literal meaning of the title suggests. But concerning on how the author delivers the poem, the title might mean something else, something deeper. The phrase, “Sleeps on my lap” could suggest the closeness that they are sharing with one another. It may represent the feeling of comfort when they are together.
It could also show that there is a bond between them, that they are close enough for the man to be able to sleep in his lap. That is a show of intimacy. The persona wants to talk about his loved one but he doesn’t want to specifically say the name so he uses the pronoun “he”. The title is secretive because it does not reveal who exactly is sleeping in his lap. We know it is a man because of the pronoun “he” but we do not know his exact relationship or how close he is to the writer of the poem. One can assume that usually the one who sleeps on the lap is a woman.
So, it is kind of unusual to find out that it is a man. By the use of the pronoun “he”, there is already an innuendo that this does not talk about a boy-girl relationship. As we started to analyze the title, it seems as if it implies that a person could be close to you and yet not really know you inside and out. From the outside looking in, it looks like a love story. But when you’ve read it completely, you will see that it is not just an ordinary love story. “People tend to hide their true selves just to satisfy society’s demand on gender. ”