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Classic and Contemporary Poetry: Explained

ON A FOUNTAIN AND ITS ARCHITECT, by                 Poet's Biography

"On a Fountain and Its Architect" is a poem by Philip Ayres that explores the beauty and intricacy of a fountain and praises the genius of its architect. It was first published in 1687 as part of Ayres' collection of poetry titled "Lyrics, Sonnets, and Other Poems."


The poem describes a magnificent fountain with a complex design and exquisite details, such as carved figures and delicate ornaments. The speaker marvels at the beauty and craftsmanship of the fountain and attributes it to the genius of its architect. The poem also touches on the fleeting nature of human existence in contrast to the enduring beauty of the fountain.

Form and Style:

The poem is written in iambic pentameter and consists of six quatrains with a rhyme scheme of ABAB. This form gives the poem a rhythmic flow that complements its themes of beauty and elegance. The use of vivid and descriptive language creates a vivid image of the fountain in the reader's mind and enhances the poem's impact.

Poetic Elements:

Imagery: The poem uses vivid and detailed imagery to create a vivid image of the fountain. The descriptions of the fountain's design and decoration help to convey its beauty and intricacy, while the comparison of the fountain to human life adds depth and complexity to the poem.

Allusion: The poem makes a subtle allusion to the transience of human existence in contrast to the enduring beauty of the fountain. This theme is reminiscent of the carpe diem tradition in poetry, which encourages readers to seize the day and appreciate the beauty around them.


"On a Fountain and Its Architect" is a beautiful and elegant poem that celebrates the beauty of art and craftsmanship. Its vivid imagery, rhythmic flow, and subtle themes of human existence create a powerful commentary on the human experience and the importance of appreciating beauty and art in our lives. The poem's message has resonated with readers for centuries, making it a lasting testament to the enduring power of poetry to capture the human experience.

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