top of page
  • Writer's picture.

A Poet's Craftsmanship- An Analysis of James Elroy's Flecker War Song of The Saracens

Updated: Oct 4, 2022



Greetings from the Garish Grackle. My intent for this blog is to highlight those enigmatic qualities of the old masters by discussing and deciphering one poem a month. This month I have chosen to examine Jame Elroy Flecker's War Song of the Saracens.


Table of Contents







Caesura- Flecker's Mocking use of the Pause in the Rhythm


Flecker made use of a poetic device called a "caesura."


Caesura is a technique used in Latin poetry that is critiqued for creating a monotonous effect.


However, Flecker's use of this technique is deliberate.


This noticeable pause is employed to fashion a constant rhythm.


It is believed and argued that, as the eye travels from left to right across the page, the continually placed caesura creates a subtle, imperceptible shift.


This does not disturb the rhythm, only emphasizes it.


Imagine horses galloping at a constant rate. Imagine the thundering of hooves the 1,2,3 : 1,2,3. The pause is regularly placed, and the words are regularly metered. The resulting rhythm does assist in depicting a vivid picture of this warring, nomadic lifestyle. The cadence generates a specific set of moods, and with the accompanying rhyming words, fear is successfully struck at the heart of those readers alien to this culture.



Flecker employed an anapaestic meter – we are they/ who come fast/ter than fate: We are they/ who ride ear/ly or late. This is a sublime example of how anapaestic meter structures a poem to convey a galloping rhythm. The entire poem is composed in anapaestic hexameter.


A hexameter is a line of verse that is composed of six feet.


Feet determine the meter of the poem and is structured on stressed or unstressed syllables.


The length is relevant as it truly brings to mind those long-limbed horses riding tirelessly throughout the middle eastern landscape.


Compare then the staple English iambic pentameter. From fairest creatures we desire increase, 1,2 1,2 1,2, 1,2, 1,2.


This first line from Shakespeare's sonnet number one has power, but not by reclaiming space through movement. The Shakespearean line is an assertion, a force of will through a gentleman's walk.


The caesura, while some argued is a needless break in the rhythm, only offsets the mood of anticipated victory.


Almost as if their victory is an echoed certainty written in destiny by the gods of the Saracens.



The caesura is a mockery to those idle Pale Kings so familiar with rest dictated by a sedentary lifestyle.


Believe what you want; you'll never see the Saracen's ruthless victory coming.


Professors Saeed and Dabbagh- The Semantic Gap of Western Literature


A study done by professors Saeed and Dabbagh researched the historical allusions woven into the fabric of this poem.


Accordingly, Flecker alludes to deep historical contexts and makes use of "patterns of lexical clusters" to create this poem. Flecker is conveying a message, orientating the general public to the timeless mysteries of the east.


Through this he allows us to imbibe certain victory when saluting glory to god through annihilation. Line nine, the centered pulse of this poem states "We have marched through the Indus to Spain, and by God, we will go there again."


Dabbagh and Saeed reference F.W. Baston's examination of a "semantic gap" abandoned by English poetry.


Line nine- is it not implied that these constant wanderers know the western landscape? Line 15 "And the shield was a grief to the fool and as bright as a desolate pool."


A desert-faring people, would not use "pool" effortlessly and without consequence. The western light as it reflects off a shield-bearing warrior is "bright" but ephemeral.



Unlike "the rock of Stamboul" and its eternal salutations to the heavens. The shield is straight indeed, a reckoning of what it is to be the other, yet orient yourself to god, that single certainty.


A War Cry Carried by Meter- to the Heart of the Idle Pale King


The word Saracen- is disputed to have its etymology in Arabic Sharq - East and Sharaqa- Rising/Rose Sun. The reach of this poem deliberately extends beyond geography to the inner warrior in the reader.


What is it to possess strength beyond measure?


To knowingly reckon with this fiercest quality where none can rival?


Let me know in the comment section below.


The spoken word, a cry carried and governed by this meter does more than tell a story or simply sing a song. It echoes across a seemingly endless, barren wasteland to the heart of the protected, isolated Pale King. It questions of him "don't you want more of yourself?" It's almost an invitation.


Flecker died of tuberculosis at the age of thirty. His passing is lamented to be "unquestionably the greatest premature loss that English literature has suffered since the death of Keats."



What poem inspires you to reach past your material protections and find qualities granted by the "Waters of Destiny?" Please let me know in the comment section below.





References










521 views0 comments

Related Posts

See All

10 comentarios


Adam Gary
Adam Gary
05 oct 2021

I'm not sure why, but it keeps taking away my like for this post Garish!


But don't ever think I haven't because it keeps removing it!

Me gusta
.
.
05 oct 2021
Contestando a

Thank you Adam! I find that my like disappear on other posts as well. Appreciate the 💖

Me gusta

.
.
27 sept 2021

Garish Grackle,I enjoy reading your analysis and introducing me to technique i haven't heard before.


Makes me curious about not only other poetic techniques but how it's being use.Poets and what they stood for when they wrote their piece.


I enjoy this article and can't wait to learn more from you.

Me gusta
.
.
27 sept 2021
Contestando a

Thank you Bendy, I sincerely enjoyed writing this and am keen for following analysis. I appreciate the time that you have given this.

Me gusta

Sophie
Sophie
26 sept 2021

Wow I learned so much from this! I've never heard of a caesura before reading this but now that I have I'm definitely going to start noticing it when I read/write poetry!


I thought it was interesting how you not only described the poetic technique, but you also explained the impact it has on the emotion and tone of the poem.


I really loved how detailed this post is and how beautifully it was written.


Looking forward to reading more from you! 🥀

Me gusta
.
.
26 sept 2021
Contestando a

Thank you! I absolutely love your writing! For taking the time to read this and your encouraging words, it means so much.

Me gusta

Adam Gary
Adam Gary
26 sept 2021

A wonderful look into a great poet’s work! I’m so glad we get to look forward to monthly analysis from you Garish! And wonderful introduction and I love the use of caesura here!

Me gusta
.
.
26 sept 2021
Contestando a

Thank you very much! This incredible chance that you’ve provided. I really enjoyed writing and researching this.

Me gusta

Suchita Senthil Kumar
Suchita Senthil Kumar
26 sept 2021

This is my first time hearing about the poetic device caesura and this interests me so much.


I've always believed that writing, especially poetry, and music are intertwined in many ways and this post gave me a deeper insight and understanding to that notion.


I'm left with a wonderful feeling after reading this poem and this poet is truly a legend! Thank you for introducing me to his work!


I admire the great understanding of poems you have. You always inspire me and I am constantly learning so much from you, Garish!

Me gusta
.
.
26 sept 2021
Contestando a

He is an exceptional talent! I always struggle with metered verse as words themselves are irregular. This poem must have taken time, effort and thought. It is admirable work. Thank you very much my dear friend for your cherished support!

Me gusta
bottom of page