Form, structure and language

Form

The poem takes the form of a first-person narrative. The poem may be autobiographical as it could be dedicated to her husband, Fred, and it describes the home of a writer. Equally it could be about a character similar to the poet.

Structure

The poem is composed of three 10-line stanzas. Stanza one is made up of five rhyming couplets, to make a rhyme scheme aabbccddee. This rhyme scheme starts to break down in stanza two, as if reflecting the disruption of the oncoming storm. By stanza three, a new rhyme scheme has begun to emerge: ababccdddd. Perhaps the poet intends the reader to see this suggestion of order and its progressive disruption as a way of representing the oncoming storm on the page.

There are four stresses in most lines, but some lines have five stresses instead. Rita Dove sometimes varies this pattern, and the stresses do not always fall in a strict rhythm. The effect on the reader is to create an impression of a relaxed, informal voice – perhaps a thoughtful one, wandering from idea to idea.

Language

A painting of a knight in shining armour rescuing a damsel in distress
The speaker of the poem compares her partner to a knight in shining armour
  • The poem is written in relaxed, informal language, with lots of conversational digressions, as the poet flits from subject to subject. This disjointed feel is emphasised by the use of dashes to break up the text and by sentences that finish abruptly part of the way through a line. It's as if one thought interrupts another, in the flow of ideas.
  • The speaker uses a metaphor, comparing her partner to a knight in shining armour. The imagery of a knight rescuing his maiden is echoed by the simile 'sure as shooting arrows to the heart'. Elsewhere, Dove uses a simile to suggest her old boyfriends were sweet but insubstantial: 'thin as licorice and as chewy,/ Sweet with a dark and hollow center'.
  • The hurricane itself is personified as 'Big Bad Floyd' who 'nudges' and 'cusses' in his 'oddly male' way and this helps make the connection with the actual men in the poem.

These disjointed images help to suggest the reader's daydreaming state of mind to the reader.