Analysis of Poem "Spring Storm" by Jim Wayne Miller
Jim Wayne Miller and Spring Storm
Spring Storm is full of simile, metaphor and other figurative language which makes this short poem a must for many a school curriculum. It focuses on one scene and one person, a young man, bursting out of a house.
The question is, what has turned him moody? Why is he so beside himself with anger? And just who is the speaker observing this spring storm? There are no definitive answers to these or many other questions regarding the reasons for such unease.
It's up to the reader to fill in the before and after.
This scene could have come directly out of Jim Wayne Miller's early life on his grandfather's farm, or possibly the poet witnessed it when he moved to live and work in the Appalachians a little later.
Born in 1936 Jim Miller became a poet, teacher and linguist, working for many years at the Western Kentucky University, where he published books, wrote plays and many poems. These were gathered together in a Selected Poems published a few years before Miller's death in 1996.
Spring Storm is perhaps his best known poem due mainly to its accessibility and the deeper resonances that can be found within all that figurative diction.
The poem is all about action, it mimics the sudden spring storm as it passes through the lives of these country folk. And it is set in the present, the living here and now, whilst the imagery and extended metaphor give it a timeless feel.
He comes gusting out of the house,
the screen door a thunderclap behind him.
He moves like a black cloud
over the lawn and---stops.
A hand in his mind grabs
a purple crayon of anger
and messes the clean sky.
He sits on the steps, his eye drawing
a mustache on the face in the tree.
As his weather clears,
his rage dripping away,
wisecracks and wonderment
spring up like dandelions.
Analysis of Spring Storm
Spring Storm is a poem that focuses on one person, a young man perhaps in his teenage years, an individual suddenly appearing on the scene in dramatic fashion.
That word gusting already tells the reader that the metaphorical is present - this person has become the storm, his exit from the house having the same effect as the strong wind that is an integral part of any storm.
In addition, the actual screen door smacks hard as he bursts out, creating a thunderclap sound, loud and powerful. The storm's second element increases the intensity.
The speaker is following him as he heads over the lawn like a black cloud - the first simile in the poem - which then suddenly stops. Why does he stop? Perhaps he's come to a turning point.
Black turns to purple, the color of absolute anger, of death even. The image is of a person holding a crayon and scribbling it across the sky - quite powerful - wanting to show the whole world just how angry he is.
Perhaps this is the equivalent of the lightning that nearly always comes with thunder? But why a crayon? Is this person a mere child who likes to draw and create art with crayons?
There's another reference to art - this person then sits on the steps (of the house?) and draws a mustache on the face in the tree. With his eye. The face is already part of the tree, some natural effect resembling a human face. But why a mustache?
Could it be that the boy, the child, the teenager has had an argument with an adult, a father, an uncle, a grandfather who happens to have a mustache?
The storm is passing and with it the rage of this person is dripping away like the rain.
Sitting there on the steps, no longer angry, he begins to see the funny side of things, his mind conjuring up some witty joke or remark or new insight. Perhaps the mustache has tickled something inside?
Could it be that sun is about to come out and with it that common but beautiful weed the dandelion? Not your ordinary dandelions - those that are so bright and keen and splendid they can't help but fill you with wonder.
Analysis of Poetic devices in Spring Storm
Spring Storm is a free verse poem with no set rhyme scheme or regular meter (metre in British English). There are six stanzas made up of five couplets and one tercet.
What it does have is a wide range of figurative devices and some internal rhyme, both full and slant, which helps to tighten certain lines and stanzas, bringing texture and echoes to the sound as it is read.
Internal Rhyme and Assonance (same or similar vowels)
Alliteration (Same consonants in close words)
hand in his .....sits on the steps.......wisecracks and wonderment.
Hyperbole (exaggeration used for emphasis)
The third stanza uses hyperbole to underline the anger in the young man/boy - how can he reach the sky and mess it up with purple?
In one sense this whole poem is part extended metaphor because the title, Spring Storm, refers to the mood of the person in the poem, presumably a young man, subject to anger and rage before the storm subsides.
Within this extended metaphor:
In the second line - the screen door a thunderclap.....is a metaphor.
Personification (when an object or thing is given human characteristics or a personal nature)
In the sixth line - a purple crayon of anger
Simile (comparing one thing with another using like or as)
In the third line - He moves like a black cloud.
In lines twelve and thirteen - wisecracks and wonderment/spring up like dandelions.
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