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What Does the Poem Called 'The Sonnet-Ballad' Mean?


American poet Gwendolyn Brooks gave her poem "The Sonnet-Ballad" an apt title. Ballads traditionally tell a story -- oftentimes tragic -- while sonnets are expressions of love. This poem fully encompasses both of those requirements in its heart-wrenching story of love and loss. Unlike many poems, the meaning of this one lies primarily on the surface.

A Loss of Love

"The Sonnet-Ballad" is a story of a woman's grief and loss. Death -- in the form of war -- is personified as a seductive lover who lures a beloved away from her arms. Alone with her grief, she wonders, "What I can use an empty heart-cup for." The reader is not told whether he will return but is told that change is certain. In the poem, this situation is to be mourned rather than celebrated.

About the Author

Elise Wile has been a writer since 2003. Holding a master's degree in curriculum and Instruction, she has written training materials for three school districts. Her expertise includes mentoring, serving at-risk students and corporate training.

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