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THE LOVE SONNETS OF PROTEUS: 112. GIBRALTAR, by             Poet Analysis     Poet's Biography

Wilfrid Scawen Blunt (1840-1922) was an English poet, writer, and political activist. He was known for his poetry on themes of love, nature, and politics. "Gibraltar" is a sonnet from his collection "The Love Sonnets of Proteus" (1880).

Context:

Blunt wrote "Gibraltar" during the late 19th century, a period of British imperialism and expansion. Gibraltar was a British colony and strategic military base that guarded the entrance to the Mediterranean Sea. The poem reflects Blunt's fascination with the history and geography of the region, as well as his admiration for the strength and power of the British Empire.

Content:

The poem is a tribute to Gibraltar, personified as a watchful sentinel on the lookout for danger. The first quatrain describes the watchful gaze of Gibraltar, which is likened to a person on the lookout for incoming ships and potential threats. The second quatrain emphasizes the military strength of the fortress and its powerful cannons, which are capable of warding off any enemy. The sestet references the historical significance of Gibraltar, named after the Moorish general Tariq, and the future heroes who will add to its legend.

Form:

The poem is a sonnet, consisting of 14 lines with a rhyme scheme of abab cdcd efef gg. It follows the traditional structure of a Shakespearean sonnet with three quatrains and a final couplet. The meter is primarily iambic pentameter, which gives the poem a steady and rhythmic flow.

Poetic Elements:

Blunt uses various poetic techniques to convey his admiration for Gibraltar. He employs personification to give the fortress human-like qualities, describing its watchful eyes and anxious gaze. He also uses powerful imagery to describe the military strength of the fortress, such as its "cannon bold" and its ability to guard the passage of the seas. The allusion to Tariq, the Moorish general who first scaled the rock and gave it its name, adds to the historical and cultural significance of the poem.

Summary:

"Gibraltar" is a well-crafted sonnet that pays tribute to the strength and power of the British Empire. Blunt's use of personification and imagery effectively conveys the might of the fortress and the importance of its role in protecting British interests. However, the poem also reflects the imperialistic attitudes of the time and the glorification of colonialism. As such, it may be read as a reflection of the political and cultural context in which it was written. Overall, "Gibraltar" is a fine example of Blunt's poetic skill and his engagement with contemporary political and cultural issues.


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