Class 10 Poem ‘ A Tiger in the Zoo’ Poetic Devices: The main poetic devices of the poem A Tiger in the Zoo’ are given here. The poem is also given so that you don’t need to open a poem elsewhere to relate the literary elements used in the poem.
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Poetic Devices: ‘A Tiger in the Zoo’
A Tiger in the Zoo
He stalks in his vivid stripes
The few steps of his cage,
On pads of velvet quiet,
In his quiet rage.
He should be lurking in shadow,
Sliding through long grass
Near the water hole
Where plump deer pass.
He should be snarling around houses
At the jungle’s edge,
Baring his white fangs, his claws,
Terrorising the village!
But he’s locked in a concrete cell,
His strength behind bars,
Stalking the length of his cage,
He hears the last voice at night,LESLIE NORRIS
The patrolling cars,
And stares with his brilliant eyes
At the brilliant stars.
About the Poem: A tiger in the Zoo’
This poem contrasts a tiger in the zoo with the tiger in its natural habitat. The poem moves from the zoo to the jungle, and back again to the zoo. The poet gives out a strong message that the wild animals should remain in their natural habitat and not caged in zoos and cells. The natural freedom should not be snatched from the wild animals. Captivity is the worst kind of punishment given to animals living in their natural habitat and environment. The poem effectively takes out the idea and necessity of ‘freedom’ and how valuable it is.
A few key literary elements in the poem discussed here are:
There are two different rhyme schemes in the poem. They are abcb and abcd.
The rhyme scheme for first, second and fifth stanza is abcb and for third and fifth stanza is abcd.
He stalks in his velvet stripes. a
The few steps of his cage, b
On pads of velvet quiet, c
In his quiet rage. b
But he’s locked in a concrete cell, a
His strength behind bars, b
Stalking the length of his cage, c
Ignoring visitors. d
The imagery is conveyed through
‘vivid stripes’, ‘lurking in the shadow’, sliding through long grass’, ‘snarling around houses’, terrorising the village’, ‘stalking the length of his cage’, ignoring visitors’, ‘stars with his brilliant eyes’, ‘at the brilliant stars’
Norris symbolises the words ‘cage’ and ‘sky’.
- ‘Cage’ symbolises the captivity of the tiger by humans.
- ‘Sky’, on the other hand, symbolises the freedom that the caged tiger longs for.
- By symbolising ‘cage’ and ‘sky’, Norris shows the helplessness of the tiger.
Oxymoron – The use of two consecutive words that have contradictory meanings.
- The poet uses the phrase ‘quiet rage’, in which the words ‘quiet’ and ‘rage’ have contrasting meaning making it mean ‘silent anger’ or ‘suppressed anger’.
- This contrasting phrase is used to convey that though the tiger is quiet in the cage, it is full of rage.
- The tiger is referred to with the use of the pronoun ‘he’, implying that he can feel like humans do, that is, feeling helpless at being imprisoned and wanting to be free.
- Therefore, the tiger has been personified, that is, has been given human-like qualities in this poem.
Alliteration – Repetition of initial consonant sounds in the same line Alliteration has been used in phrases
- ‘should be lurking in shadow’
- ‘plump deer pass’, ‘in a concrete cell’
By highlighting soft sounds like ‘s’, ‘p’ and ‘c’, Norris draws the readers’ attention towards the tiger’s condition – what it is and what it should be.
Metaphor – Metaphor is a literary device used to make a comparison without using the words ‘like’ or ‘as’.
- ‘On pads of velvet quiet’ – this phrase compares the paws of the tiger to velvet because of the quality of softness of velvet
Repetition – Repetition of words/phrases in the same line.
- The words ‘stalk’, ‘quiet’ and ‘brilliant’ are repeated throughout the poem.
- The word ‘stalk’ and ‘quiet’ refer to the strength of the tiger and how it has been trapped inside the cage.
- The word ‘brilliant’, on the other hand, refers to both the sky and the tiger’s eyes. It represents the tiger’s yearning to be free.
Enjambment – Sentence is continuing to next line without any punctuation mark
Stanza 2 – the second and the third line
Metonymy – This poetic device consists of the substitution of the name of an attribute or adjunct for that of the thing meant.
In this poem, the poet uses the device of metonymy in the 2nd line of the 4th stanza. He uses the word ‘strength’ to mean the body of the tiger, where the entire strength of this majestic creature resides and which is locked up within a cage in the zoo.
Consonance – Use of ‘s’ sound (stalks, his, stripes)
Assonance – Use of vowel sound ‘I’ (in his vivid stripes).