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Classic and Contemporary Poetry: Explained

DREYFUS, by                

"Dreyfus" is a poem by Florence Earle Coates, an American poet who lived from 1850 to 1927. The poem is a reflection on the Dreyfus Affair, a political scandal that divided French society in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.


"Dreyfus" was published in Coates' collection of poetry, "The Builders and Other Poems," in 1919. The poem reflects the broader cultural interest in the Dreyfus Affair, which was a major political and social controversy of the time.


"Dreyfus" is a poem that reflects on the injustice and corruption that characterized the Dreyfus Affair. The poem describes the wrongful imprisonment of Alfred Dreyfus, a French military officer who was falsely accused of spying for the Germans, and reflects on the ways in which his case became a symbol of injustice and intolerance in French society.


"Dreyfus" is written in free verse, with a style that reflects the speaker's sense of outrage and indignation at the injustice of the Dreyfus Affair. The poem is divided into several stanzas, each containing a different aspect of the speaker's reflection on the case.

Poetic Elements:

"Dreyfus" makes use of several poetic techniques and devices, including imagery, allusion, and repetition. The use of imagery, such as the comparison of Dreyfus' imprisonment to a "living tomb," adds to the poem's emotional impact, while the allusion to the story of Christ on the cross reinforces the theme of suffering and injustice. The repetition of the phrase "For Truth and Justice" throughout the poem reinforces the speaker's sense of determination and commitment to these values.


"Dreyfus" is a significant work of political and social poetry that reflects on the injustice and corruption of the Dreyfus Affair. The poem's use of imagery, allusion, and repetition adds to its emotional and poetic impact, while also conveying a sense of outrage and indignation at the injustice of the case. Overall, "Dreyfus" is a noteworthy example of Florence Earle Coates' ability to engage with important political and social issues of her time in a poetic form.

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