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What Say The Reeds At Runnymede

1108 words - 5 pages

Back in 1215, Some Barons of England got together on the meadows at Runnymede, on the banks of the river Thames, near London, and forced the highest and mightiest in the land, King John, to sign a document which has come down to us as the Magna Charta. This document is the foundation of all that liberalism stands for today, and its effects are seen in constitutions and basic laws around the world.

At Runnymede, at Runnymede,
What say the reeds at Runnymede?
The lissom reeds that give and take,
That bend so far, but never break,
They keep the sleepy Thames awake
With tales of John at Runnymede.
At Runnymede, at Runnymede,
Oh, hear the reeds at Runnymede:
'You musn't sell, delay, ...view middle of the document...

He is remembering the town for what it did in the past, even though it may be forgotten as the town of freedom and rights.

Rudyard Kipling has a very passionate view on Runnymede, you can tell by the way he writes about it that it has significance to him, the poem is all about the freedom and rights deserved by all. He uses negative words in the first two stanzas which are replaced contrastively by the positive words of the last two stanzas. The cluster of negative words is to raise the important memory of broken reeds (metaphorically the people) and the sleepy Thames (representing England), of their rights and liberties sold, delayed, denied in previous times, and of the settlement that was an option that was not realised.

Kipling uses two different verse forms, the rhythm stays the same throughout both though. The first two stanzas both have six lines the remaining three having eight. The poem is opened with a narrator that sets the scene and introduces the monologue spoken by the reeds taking over at line eight. It continues in a narrative device, of the reeds speaking and having their own words carried by the wind around the world. The narrator returns in the last stanza.

Kipling constantly repeats the history lesson of the poem. Up until then the stubborn king john is forced to grant what will eventually become an extraordinary flexibility to all of his people. The lyricism is appropriate for such an important bloodless victory, and so is the underlying note of threat that the newfound freedoms need constant protection if they are not to be lost.

Kipling personifies the reeds and the river Thames all in the opening stanza.
Using personification attracts the reader, by making an inanimate object move and speak, which Kipling does with the reeds. “The lissom reeds that give and take, that bend so far, but never break” is the use of juxtaposition. The reeds have bent but not broken, have spoken but mainly observed. The river Thames is also personified but not as strong as the reeds. The Thames is patient rather than urgent, it is calm and sleepy rather than active and restless.

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