Study Guide

Twelfth Song of Thunder Form and Meter

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Form and Meter


The “Twelfth Song of Thunder” was traditionally performed as a chant. It doesn’t stick to a specific poetic meter or form. That said, the repetition that we’ll find in the poem is characteristic of chants. Let’s look at the second stanza as an example:

The voice that beautifies the land!
The voice below,
The voice of the grasshopper
Among the plants
Again and again it sounds,
The voice that beautifies the land.

As we can see from the above stanza, the line lengths vary, and the words don’t adhere to a specific rhythm. However, if we look closely, we see some important repetition going on. For example, “The voice that beautifies the land”—with or without an exclamation mark—appears four times in this twelve-line poem. As well, “Again and again it sounds” appears twice. That, Shmoopers, makes these lines refrains.

Now, in poetry, a refrain is used to remind the reader of something. It comes up again and again for a particular purpose. In this case, the refrain is a reminder of the cyclical nature of… well, nature. Things die, they are born, they live, and then they die again. More particular to this poem: rain falls, it evaporates, and then it falls again. The repetition of the refrain, then, reminds us of nature’s influence on every aspect of our lives, this poem included.

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