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Classic and Contemporary Poetry: Explained

PICTURES OF MEMORY, by             Poet Analysis     Poet's Biography

"Pictures of Memory" is a poem written by Alice Cary, an American poet born in 1820. First published in 1852, the poem reflects on memories of childhood and youth, and the power of imagination to evoke past experiences.


Alice Cary lived during a period of great social and cultural change in America, and her work reflects the influence of Romanticism, a literary movement that emphasized emotion and individual experience. The poem's publication in 1852 also coincides with a period of political turmoil in America, including the controversy surrounding the Fugitive Slave Act.


"Pictures of Memory" is a nostalgic poem that describes the speaker's reflection on past memories, including childhood and youth. The poem emphasizes the importance of imagination in reliving past experiences and evokes a sense of longing for a simpler time. The poem also reflects on the transience of time and the fleeting nature of memories.


The poem is written in free verse with irregular meter and stanzas. The structure of the poem reflects the meandering thoughts and memories of the speaker, and the use of repetition emphasizes the central theme of memory and its power to evoke past experiences.

Poetic Elements:

The poem employs various poetic techniques, including personification, metaphor, and imagery. For example, memory is personified as a "thief" that can "steal away" the past, and as a "picture" that can be revived through imagination. The use of vivid imagery, such as the "crackling fire" and the "deep blue sky," creates a sense of nostalgia and longing.


"Pictures of Memory" is a beautifully written and evocative poem that captures the essence of human memory and experience. The poem's loose structure and use of poetic techniques contribute to its emotional impact and reflect a Romantic view of the world as a place of emotion and individual experience. The poem's emphasis on the power of imagination to evoke past experiences is a timeless theme that resonates with readers today. Overall, "Pictures of Memory" is a testament to the enduring power of poetry to capture the essence of the human experience.

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