’The proud king’ is a poem about the evil inherent in arrogance and pride, which is a thematic preoccupation that is present in many culture around the world. ‘The proud King’ is a long narrative poem, of epic proportion. It has 119 stanzas in all. 117 of these stanzas contain seven lines each with the first line of each stanza indented. However, the last 2 stanzas have nineteen and eleven lines respectively. The rhyme scheme for the seven line stanzas is consistent. The ‘Proud King’ is didactic in nature, as the aim and objective of the poet is to teach certain values and virtues which are essential for the well-being of each individual. It revolves round the relationship between man, represented by king Jovinian and element of the supernatural realm, symbolized by an angel.
- Pride and the vanity of material wealth
- Supremacy of God.
- Death is inevitable.
- Impermanence of wealth, status and position.
- The immortality of art.
- The corruptive nature of wealth and affluence.
- Sinners must repent of their.
- Leaders are answerable to God for their action.
POETIC DEVICES IN THE POEM
- Alliteration: In several lines of the poem, words, having similar first consonant sound, occur very close to each other.
‘more mad than mad’ (line 405)
‘royal race’ (line 474)
‘visage vanished’(line 141)
‘sins thou straight shall shrive’(line 652)
- Antithesis: The poet also uses contradictory expressions to convey ideas:
‘And is mighty lord to slay and save’ (line 648)
‘New things becoming old, and old things new’ (line 784)
- Oxymoron: The use of two contradictory words to suggest an idea is found in the following expression: ‘Though bitter-sweet thou knowest well this is (line 747).
- Personification: The poet deploys the use of this devices to create mental images in the minds of the readers by giving human qualities to non-human things. This is depicted in several lines of the poem:
‘Not made a monster by unhappiness’ (line 617)
‘angry eye’ (line 708)
‘naked feet’ (line 714)
- Rhetorical question: Rhetorical questions are used in the poem to provoke deep ruminations from the reader about certain ideas.
- Discuss ‘The Proud King’ as an example of narrative poetry.
- Identify and discuss the dominant theme in the poem
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