The major Poetic Devices used in the ‘The Ball Poem’ are given here. Poetic devices enhance the gravity, beauty and appeal of any poem. Watch the video tutorial on ‘The ball Poem’ to understand the poem.
Click here for more material on ‘The Ball Poem’
To clear your doubts, feel free to contact us by e-mail or social network links.
Poetic Devices – The Ball Poem
‘The Ball Poem’ Text
What is the boy now, who has lost his ball,
What, what is he to do? I saw it go
Merrily bouncing, down the street, and then
Merrily over — there it is in the water!
No use to say ‘O there are other balls’:
An ultimate shaking grief fixes the boy
As he stands rigid, trembling, staring down
All his young days into the harbour where
His ball went. I would not intrude on him;
A dime, another ball, is worthless.
Now He senses first responsibility
In a world of possessions. People will take
Balls, balls will be lost always, little boy.
And no one buys a ball back. Money is external.
He is learning, well behind his desperate eyes,
The epistemology of loss, how to stand up
Knowing what every man must one day know
And most know many days, how to stand up.
A few key literary elements in the poem are:
There is no rhyme scheme since the poem has been written in free verse.
Symbolism is the use of symbols to signify the ideas by giving them symbolic meaning that are different from their literal meaning.
- The term ‘ball’ is used as a symbol for the boy’s past childhood days that are now gone.
- The loss of the ball is symbolic of the loss of the boy’s innocence.
- It is also symbolic of the boy gaining knowledge on how to experience loss and survive.
- It is also symbolic of the boy becoming a man (gaining mature thinking) after losing innocence of a childhood.
This poetic device is used when a covert comparison is made between two different things or ideas. In this poem, the poet uses the device of metaphor in the 8th line when he compares the boy’s young days or his childhood with the lost ball.
- The line ‘All his young days into the harbour where His ball went’ is an example of metaphor.
- The poet uses this metaphor to draw a comparison between the lost ball and the loss of the boy’s childhood.
Alliteration is the repetition of the same sound that is used in the beginning of the closely placed words.
- In the poem, the phrases ‘what, what’ and ‘buys a ball back’ are examples of alliteration.
- The poet stresses on the repetition of certain sounds in words to enhance the flow of the poem.
- Berryman repeats the word ‘ball’ at various points of the poem.
- He uses the word on surface to describe the loss of the ball. He also uses it as a symbol for the loss of childhood innocence.
- The phrase ‘how to stand up’ is repeated to explain the importance of overcoming grief in the poem.
- ‘What’ is repeated.
Enjambment describes a clause or a sentence that continues from one line to the next without a pause and without punctuation. By using enjambment, the poet can compose a sentence that runs on for several lines or even straddles the entire poem before reaching a full stop.
- The 2nd and the 3rd line of the first stanza
- 1st to 3rd line of the second stanza
- almost the entire third and fourth stanza
This poetic device is used when the poet addresses his poem to an absent audience.
In this poem, the poet uses the device of an apostrophe in the 13th line as he directly speaks to the little boy and tells him that balls are always liable to get lost, but we never see the boy responding to him.
- The poet uses the literary device of ‘apostrophe’ to address the little boy.
- Although he is talking to the boy, the boy is away from him, and does not respond to him.
This poetic device is used when an emotion is attributed to a non-living thing after being displaced from a person.
In this poem, the poet uses the device of transferred epithet in the 15th line, when he writes the phrase ‘desperate eyes’. It is not that the eyes of the boy are sad, but that the boy itself is sad and that his eyes are expressing that emotion on his face.
- The phrase ‘desperate eyes’ is an example of transferred epithet. It tells us that the boy himself is sad, and not merely his eyes.
- The poet uses this figure of speech to convey how the emotions on the little boy’s face are reflected in his eyes.
Use of two words in two or more lines (what is the boy …………… what, what)
When poet says, ‘merrily bouncing down the street.’
Use of vowel sound ‘e’ (He is learning, well behind his desperate eyes.)