Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry: Explained, THE SECRETARY; WRITTEN AT THE HAGUE, 1696, by MATTHEW PRIOR



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Classic and Contemporary Poetry: Explained

THE SECRETARY; WRITTEN AT THE HAGUE, 1696, by                 Poet's Biography

"The Secretary; Written at The Hague, 1696" is a poem by Matthew Prior that was published in his collection of poems, "Poems on Several Occasions" in 1709. 

The poem takes the form of a conversation between the speaker and a secretary who is tasked with writing letters for his master. The speaker attempts to persuade the secretary to use his position to help those in need and to be a force for good in the world.

The poem is written in rhyming couplets (AA BB CC, etc.), which contributes to its musicality and sense of formality. The use of formal language, rhetorical questions, and metaphor also contribute to the poem's persuasive tone.

The central theme of the poem is the responsibility of those in power to use their influence for good. The speaker implores the secretary to use his position to help those in need and to use his power and influence for the greater good. The poem critiques the political and social norms of the time, suggesting that those in power should use their position to help the less fortunate rather than solely pursuing their own interests.

The poem also explores the themes of morality and ethics. The speaker argues that the secretary has a moral duty to use his position for good and that it is not enough to simply fulfill his duties without considering the impact of his actions.

In terms of poetic elements, the poem makes use of rhetorical devices such as repetition, parallelism, and rhetorical questions to enhance its persuasive tone. The use of metaphor, particularly in the comparison of the secretary to a pen, highlights the power and influence that the secretary possesses.

In conclusion, "The Secretary; Written at The Hague, 1696" is a poem by Matthew Prior that critiques the political and social norms of the time, exploring themes of responsibility, morality, and ethics. The use of poetic devices such as rhyme, metaphor, and rhetorical questions enhance the poem's persuasive tone, making it a powerful critique of those in power and a call to use one's influence for the greater good.


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