A word is a small mystery and ‘All written work’, Jane Hirshfield tells us, ‘retains some trace, however faint of [the] initial sanctity of the Word.’1 Celebration of this sanctity or, as Hopkins has it, the inscape of a word, is a hallmark of lyrical poetry and one of the things that draws me to the reading and writing of poetry. In a world dominated by abbreviated communication, by purpose-driven language and weasel words, poetry remains a domain where language’s rich tradition can be feted.
I have been exploring language and how it is transformed into the art we call poetry for more than a decade. My partner, Julian Bailey, coming from a different tradition, also loves the sanctity of the word. He is a singer and teacher of singers, and talks of the sacred contract between the original articulation of sound and its embedded emotion. My awareness of the role and impact of vowels and consonants has been sharpened by long conversations with Julian about his unique method of singing training, bouncing off fascinating related ideas he has developed about emotion and the function of vowels and consonants in singing, alongside the observations of other theorists.
• • •
The ancient Greeks believed that the hero Cadmus, husband of Harmonius, was responsible for teaching the secrets of speech to early humans. He is credited with introducing the Phoenician alphabet to the Greeks, and through adaptation and change it became the basis for most modern alphabets.
If we look even further back to our primate ancestors and their vocal expressions we can see an unbroken nexus between articulation and emotion. All animals are capable of guttural articulation. But at some long-ago point in our evolutionary past, Julian tells me, higher primates developed the capacity to change their mouth shape, enabling them for the first time to form precise vowel sounds. An ape pounds their chest: ‘ahhhhhhh’, s/he says perhaps in anger or ‘oooh, oooh, ooohing’ with maybe curiosity or ‘ehh’, ehh’, ‘ehhing’ with what might be disgust. This is an example of primary, elemental and differentiated communication of emotions via the pathway of vowels. As human language developed, Julian postulates, consonants were added to vowels and these parcels of sonic and semantic information turned into words, eventually becoming the sometimes complicated and multisyllabic words we use with ease today.
The importance of vowels to human speech has remained. There are words in English without consonants, but so central are vowels to word construction that there isn’t a word in English that doesn’t include a vowel. It may appear that ‘zzzz’ and ‘pfff’ are words but really they are simply sounds. Further, in three instances in English—‘A’, ‘I’ and ‘O’—a single vowel is sufficient to make a word.
The centrality of vowels is expressed in quite a different way in the Hebrew writing system, the aleph-beth. This system, remarkably, had no letters for what we have come to call vowels. The 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet were all consonants. There are many reasons for this omission but principally it was because of the nature of the vowel sound itself. In a fascinating study David Abrams writes:
While consonants are those shapes made by the lips, teeth, tongue, palate or throat, that momentarily obstruct the flow of breath (and voice) and so give form to our words and phrases, the vowels are those sounds which come from the unimpeded breath itself. The vowels, that is to say, are nothing other than sounded breath. And the breath, for the ancient Semites, was the very mystery of life and awareness, a mystery inseparable from the invisible ruach—the holy wind or spirit.2
It was the same breath, he explains, as the ‘vital substance blown into Adam’s nostrils by God …’ He postulates a reluctance of the ancient Hebrew scribes to create letters for the vowel sounds to avoid ‘concretis[ing] the ineffeable, ‘to [avoid] mak[ing] a visible likeness of the divine’.3
That genius of poetic invention, Paul Celan, touches on these themes in his poem ‘Keine Sandkunst mehr’ (No more Sand Art), translated here by John Felstiner:
No more sand art, no sand book, no masters.
Nothing on the dice. How many mutes?
Your question—your answer.
Your song, what does it know?
Through this experiment, two paths coincide: poetic language and Jewish existence … perhaps the seventeen mutes lack one for the central Eighteen Prayers of Judaic liturgy, or simply for ‘18’, which in Hebrew spells ‘alive.’
The last stanza is an alchemical masterpiece. First Celan runs three words together, blurring both meaning and sonics. Then, in an act of powerful stripping back and remembering, honouring, he removes two of the consonants from the line. Finally, in a kind of gut-wrenching surgery, he takes out the remaining consonants. This leaves just the unadorned letters e-i-o, small depth charges both primal and rudimentary. Saying them out loud it’s not hard to imagine emotion into them; to me at least, in this context, plaintive and filled with both horror and grief.
The drama of this removal of consonants from the words is symbolic and mirrors the murder of the Jews (and other Nazi victims), taken out of their homes, their communities, their niche in the world, and killed. Finally, in Celan’s poem, we are left only with three bare sounds, sole survivors, joined by hyphens on the page. Abrams says:
… nothing but vowels remain, the heart of the word, the sine qua non. But translated into Hebrew which has no vowel letters, this poem would verge on silence—a testimony to the truth which Celan sought.5
• • •
In the conversations between Julian and me—exploratory, deep reaching, sometimes argumentative, over glasses of wine, in cars on long trips, at the dinner table, Julian explains his system of singing training. He says he realised early on the central place of clean and focused vowel sounds in singing. He described discovering by working with his own voice, and observing his students, that the more clearly identified the vowel sound was, the better the singing. As a result he developed a system for training singers, which involves teaching them to utter vowel and consonant sounds very differently. Students are taught both to extend the vowel and to push the consonants up to the beginning of the next word. Consonants are relegated most commonly to a purely functional role: that of delineating meaning amid the flow of open vowel sounds. They are finished quickly and explosively so singers can move on to the all-important vowel sounds, which carry and focus the singing tone. Or as Ruth Padel says, ‘Consonants mark one sung note off from the next, because they stop the breath. You sing what you use the breath for, vowels.’6
Julian goes on to say that each vowel colour is as various as the different shades of red, for example. A vowel by itself is not a specific emotion but for each vowel sound there is a family of emotional associations, depending on meaning and context. Mason and Nims extend a similar thesis to poetry.7 They posit high-frequency and low-frequency vowel sounds, the former related to expressions of excitement, exhilaration and vivacity, the latter describing slowness, largeness … (things) powerful, awesome … ominous or gloomy.8 We think of them as dark notes.
In the studio, Julian tells me, he has students sing a phrase using vowel forms alone, without consonants, to help the student discover how the literal meaning is underpinned by the emotional power of the vowel sounds. Sarah Snook, the Australian actor, also uses this process in her preparation for a role: ‘So if there is a line you’re meant to cry on, a good way to approach it is to say all the vowels in a sentence, removing all the consonants, then putting them back in.’9 Poets too could use this device to test the emotional resonance of their work.
• • •
Vowels play such a central part in poetry that the word assonance was minted to describe a repetition of vowel sounds in a word, phrase, line or poem and is a potent literary device. Consider these lines in a poem called ‘On Handling Some Small Shells from the Windward Islands’ by May Swenson, which is about sound, among other things.
Their scrape and clink
together of musical coin
Then the tinkling of crickets
More eerie, more thin.
Their click as of crystal,
wood, carapace and bone.
A tinntinnabular fusion.
Their friction spinal and chill.
The short ‘i’ vowel sound predominates in these lines, pairing perfectly with the sound shells make clinking together. This is a vowel sound said to be a favourite of writers wanting to depict things ‘brisk, quick, little, slim and glittery’.10 To add more texture to this sound in Swenson’s poem, and emphasise the importance of it, there are also, as Mary Oliver calls them, sibling sounds,11 which are sounds related to the short ‘i’ found in the dipthongs: Their, coin, errie and fusion. Even though the predominant vowel sounds don’t change throughout the poem, the meaning grows from positive associations of coins and music in the beginning through the thin, eerie sound of crickets to the chill of mortality at the end of the poem with carapace and bone.
I don’t know anyone who writes more imaginatively or effectively about music in poetic utterance than Ruth Padel. Here she analyses the sonics of ‘Skeins O Geese’, a poem by Scottish poet Kathleen Jamie. She pays particular attention to what creates the effect of the elemental wind soughing in and through the poem:
The first two stanzas set up a soft nasal moan that runs through the poem like wind towards the poem’s last word: skein, gong, born, lowin, stne, blin, ca’ing. Against the harder sounds (twists, script, gate), this moan dies away in the central stanza … then it returns, in strewn, aroun, skeins, hame, dumb moan, soun. It is the vowel of bereftness, backed up by the alphabet’s softest consonant … which also blows through the poem: the ‘w’ of word, wis, lowin, sown, word, wire, wind, word, whistles, awa, we’ll ken, connect wi, whit and finally, aptly wind.12
Padel calls ‘w’ the alphabet’s ‘softest’ consonant and in general speech ‘w’ (and ‘y’) are normally considered as consonants. But in singing, Julian points out, ‘w’ and ‘y’ act as vowel sounds as ‘u’ and ‘i’. Each of them has a flowing and voiced quality. Abrams concurs in telling us that later Hebrew scribes occasionally employed H, W and Y to suggest specific vowel sounds.13
An interesting example of the use of these consonants as vowels is found in the John Masefield poem ‘Sea Fever’, which was turned into a song by John Ireland: ‘to the gulls’ way and the whales’ way, where the wind’s like a whetted knife’. This excerpt clearly uses the poetic speaking power of a consonant that is actually a vowel. Phonetically it would be: ‘Tu tha gals uei ῖnd tha ueils uei ue tha uinds laik a wueted naif:’.
The persistent u sound is synonymous with the howling sound of its subject—and can very effectively be used by the singer to place the resonant sound in the mask (the head’s resonating chambers) in a way that does not occur unless they specifically think of ‘w’ as ‘u’.
• • •
In poetry, consonants and vowels play their essential part in building an intricate sonic landscape. Jacques Maritain calls it the musical stir, which casts a poetic spell.14 Consonants’ prime function, in singing and poetry, is to differentiate. Padel says they ‘make edges, like the cement “pointing” bricks in a wall’.15 In normal speech there is a tendency to pronounce consonants lightly, as there is in singing. In the construction of the word-music of a poem, however, consonants are perhaps given equal sonic value. Consonants are percussive thumps and sibilants, they are mutes and liquids and even their names show that in poetry, at least, they can also be emotionally expressive.
Consider the following lines of Robert Penn Warren from a long poem. The poet uses the consonant ‘b’ (a voiced plosive) eight times in two lines and then its use tapers over the next few lines, maintaining a diminished but still impactful sonic register: ‘The bear’s tongue, pink as a baby’s, out-crisps to the curled tip, / It bleeds the black blood of the blueberry.’16
The effect is paradoxically both bold and innocent in tone, the narrator conveying his fellow feeling with the bear by likening its tongue to a baby’s. The section finishes, so poetically, with ‘How thin is the membrane between himself and the world.17
• • •
Poetry’s relatively higher valuing of consonants leads to the poetic device called consonance—the repetition of the consonant sound. Such repetition can begin, be within or end a word—for instance shadow/meadow, which features the device both midstream and at the end, and night/boat. Given that more consonants than vowels begin words in English, it also explains why alliteration—the repetition of the (usually consonantal) sound at the beginning of a word—is more important in poetry than in singing.
A good example of the valuing and intentional use of consonants in poetry is described by Donald Hall, when talking about them in his signature poem ‘White Apples’:
when my father had been dead a week
with his voice in my ear
I sat up in bed
and held my breath
and stared at the pale closed door
white apples and the taste of stone
if he called again
I would put on my coat and galoshes
Hall said he thinks this poem works because of the ‘st’ sound at the end of taste and beginning of stone: ‘That’s what lifts a poem, makes it get off the ground a little … it’s kind of a stuttering sound, which seems to match the theme—the interruptions of death, and being suddenly woken.’18
• • •
Poetry is not music but there is music in poetry and in words/phrases/sentences. Robert Pinsky puts it like this:
A sentence is like a tune. A memorable sentence gives its emotion a melodic shape. You want to hear it again, say it—in a way, to hum it to yourself. You desire, if only in the sound studio of your imagination, to repeat the physical experience of that sentence. That craving, emotional and intellectual but beginning in the body with a certain gesture of sound, is near the heart of poetry.19
Lyric poetry has its origins in a symbiosis between words written by ancient Greeks to be chanted or sung in accompaniment to the stringed instrument, the lyre. Poet Gwynneth Lewis says that ‘the poet steers a path between making music and making sense’.20 The making music part of poetry is assisted by the sound-based language devices: alliteration, assonance, dissonance, onomatopoeia, consonance. We do not need to have knowledge about these devices to be affected by them. ‘A poem’s music’, Jane Hirshfield says, ‘affects us whether or not we make it conscious.’21 Knowledge of them may, of course, enhance our listening pleasure. The experience of euphony and other sonic effects may or not be consciously intended by the poet either. Hopkins asserted that ‘Verse is … speech employed to carry the inscape of spoken sounds.22 Further, he believed that literary devices such as assonance and alliteration re-endow with a measure of their inscape words that have been rendered neutral by everyday usage.
A perfect example of inscape in a poem and the way it spirals down into essence is in the following few stanzas from a poem by Fiona Burrows called ‘Wentworth Falls’:
I could see
the tiny whorls and hoops of fronds
clenched tight like newborn fists
and wondered why
words that rhyme with curl and swirl and unfurl
are all round
and why we say them out loud
with a mouth shaped like the knot of a tree23
One of the wonders of these verses is that Burrows shows us another aspect of what is wedded to vowel sounds, alongside the emotion that Julian suggests. She lists three words that describe something round and all use the vowel sound expressed by ‘ur’ and ‘ir’. (The phonetic symbol for this vowel sound is ε). This correspondence can’t be coincidental, must point us back to an earlier time when there was more immediate connection between the structure and shape of words and what they named.
This connection is evident in the early Semitic aleph-beth. The first letter, aleph, is also the ancient word for ox and is written as an image of an ox’s head with horns. Turning this pictogram on its side gives us a capital A—the first letter of our own alphabet.
Julian has a further take on this—he has observed a correspondence between the written lower case Arabic letters we use in English (and other Western languages) and the physical shape of the mouth when forming the sound. Thus the rounded lips that produce o are more open when the jaw drops to pronounce ɔ, the soft palate is high at the back of the mouth when saying a, the tongue is in a dome-shaped middle position when saying e, and the tongue is blocking the mouth like a vertical bar when saying i—so much so that that there is a distinctly more nasal presentation of the sound (the dot above the i ).
• • •
A knowledge of the connection between vowel sounds and emotion may also be useful in writing lyric poetry. Judith Beveridge says that she often starts a poem by writing a series of particular vowel sounds as a precursor to finding the words. Playing with sound, she seeks to set up musical chimes,24 a notion also used by Robert Bly. He says: ‘Chiming means that tiny sounds chime within each other inside the line. It’s a sort of interior rhyming that the writer does without alerting, even telling, the reader.’25
I was very taken with Beveridge’s approach and wanted to tackle some sonic, vowel-based experiment of my own. I had also been primed by reading the May Swenson poem ‘On Handling Some Small Shells from the Windward Islands’ quoted above. The opportunity arose one day in the garden, where many of my poems begin. Reaching among the tangle of desiccated sweet pea foliage, I noticed how movement of the stalks set off a cascade of sounds, principally and loudly the rattle of the seeds inside their papery pods. When I came to write about the experience, instead of vowels, what came were a series of consonants—sounds that mirrored those I had heard. It was the rat-at-tatting that gave me the eventual semantic arc for the poem, turning from the thanatos of the dead foliage to the eros implicit in the seeds—bringers of new life:
inside the papery
pods delicate with hairs seeds
rat-a-tat a sound not green
but bone bleached and blonded
past colour miniature gunshots
voicing death they rattle in their
pod shake in their shell embryos
tap-tap-tapping against the walls
the new within the old the living
within the dead the call for release26
Interestingly I made one more explicit sonic experiment around this time and it also turned out to riff on primarily consonantal themes—this time using ‘b’, ‘a’ and ‘ck’ sounds in what turned out to be dizzying succession: ‘back/black/bootblack black/baked on Bakelite black’. I wondered if I had gone too far but this poem, along with my poem ‘Sweet Pea’, was published in the Australian Poetry Annual Anthology. Although I have found instances of runs of vowels sounds (chimes) in poems I have written, their finding is all after the fact—I have yet successfully to commence a poem with vowel sounds alone.
• • •
Whether it is singing or poetry, you might say that vowels are where language really happens, pockets of emotion packed inside words. Referring to the vowel pattern in a poem, one critic called it ‘Turning emotional pirouettes on a vowel.’27 In singing, extending the vowel sound not only allows the intrinsic emotion to be maximised but it also keeps the listener in suspense until the final consonant is uttered. When you listen to the sung prefix ‘ha’ your emotional connection is stretched while the vowel sound extends, until the final consonant is uttered, and only then the meaning of the word becomes apparent. Hence the very different effect of the final consonants in ha…rk, hart, harp, heart, or hard. The singer’s stretching of linguistic expectation is a little-recognised dramatic device and is one of the reasons why listening to singing is so emotionally engaging.
Delaying disclosure is a dramatic device also used in poetry. Perhaps it is more usual to do so in lyric poetry through punctuation rather than through extending vowel sounds. Readers and listeners of lyric poetry can be kept in suspense by the effective use of lineation and particularly enjambment. As they can through effective use of white space on the page by margins, stanza breaks and other caesurae.
A different kind of guessing was the lot of the early Semites. Being without written vowels, readers had to guess, given context and association, what vowel was appropriate to complete the word between consonants. Abrams again:
… much as the meaning of the consonantal cluster ‘RD’, in English, will vary according to whether we insert a long o sound between the consonants, RoaD; or a long i sound, Ride; a short e sound, ReD; or a long e sound, ReaD.
There was no single definitive reading of these texts—amazingly, reading required the reader’s active participation and interpretation. Further it was the adding of the vowel, the sacred breath, that brought the word alive.28
• • •
Extending sounds, vowel or consonant, is a technique also employed by Spoken Word performers. They can break open words (as well as phrases) when they turn the line, leading to signature dislocations and fragmentations. Additionally, performance and/or language poets who engage in sonic experiments or whose performance is more sonically driven will perhaps have a more keenly developed repertoire of sonic devices such as extending the vowel to increase dramatic tension, although it may or may not be intended to maximise emotional impact. Not every poet wants to maximise emotion. Some poets see poetry as a different vehicle entirely and are happy for their work to explore other dimensions.
Use of the device of stretching the vowel sound is common in public speaking as well as in singing, a way of building drama and emotional connection. Think for example of Martin Luther King and the impact of his ‘I have a dream’ speech. Always goosebump-making for me—the sound of the speech and its many repetitions build and amplify the meaning. How beautifully King extends the vowel sounds—in the word dream he uses the two vowel sounds, both the (written) ‘e’ and the ‘a’ to give the word more impact and to make that impact last longer. It is music as much as public speaking, meaning married to the emotional impact of the words. Perhaps all good oratory is like this.
The effect of this technique may be of interest to performing lyric poets as well. It is probably not appropriate to stretch the vowel sounds as singers do, or even as orators and performance poets do, but just entertaining an awareness of how the vowels carry emotion may help a poet maximise the emotional register of the words and engagement of her audience.
• • •
How we physically form the sounds of consonants and vowels is also telling. As Abrams describes, vowels are open-mouthed sounds and consonants are more closed-mouthed, facts we probably know but may never have articulated. One of the implications of this sound formation is that the open-mouthed vowel sounds are projected through the large loudspeaker of the mouth, in conjunction with the resonance, and have significant carrying power. Consonants, even with a few (voiced) exceptions, do not make significant use of any of the resonating spaces and in consequence do not have the carrying power of vowels. Or as Padel has it, ‘we do not (other than the liquid consonants L, M, N, R) pitch a consonant, we articulate it.29
When singing, Julian tells me, the interplay between the use of the vocal cords and the resonant space in producing our voice again takes us back to our primitive ancestors and their use of the resonant space, the mask, to produce sound. The mask is the empty airways inside the skull that vibrate when we sing and add colour and timbre to the voice. Aboriginal and other chant, for instance, emphasises a ringing head-tone instead of vowel tones. The different bone structure of some ethnicities is well suited to creating resonance, which is useful in communicating over distance or in open spaces. This is also mirrored in the relationship between the didgeridoo and the voice; sound vibrating in open space. Tibetan monks traditionally also use the resonant space in overtone or harmonic singing.
The Aussie bush-call coo-ee is also an example of using the resonant space together with consonant and vowel forms to project the voice over long distances. Both the vowel sounds in this call are small-mouth vowels which concentrate breath energy in the resonant spaces of the head. The effect of the hard ‘k’ at the beginning is to create a breath dam and engage the diaphragm. This breath energy rings the resonant bell of ‘u’ (coo) in the mask. Then the rapid transition to the more open-mouth position of the ‘i’ (ee) vowel sound allows the power of the ringing bell to exit through the open mouth-space and carry over distance, also protecting the voice of the caller from premature tiredness. The voice lasts longer using coo-ee because the vocal cords are significantly less used than if the caller were simply shouting for help. Paradoxically, the coo-ee call is louder but uses the voice less!
• • •
Words have bodies, visible bodies when you encounter them on the page, longer or shorter, fat in the middle or skinny. They also have bodies built of rhythm and music, which we register in our own bodies when we receive the words of others. ‘(W)ords put their hands on us / and press’, Sarah Rice says in a prize-winning poem on language, ‘Speaking Bluntly’.30 Even the title of her collection, Fingertip of the Tongue, conveys something of the physicality of language.
Abrams claims that ‘we learn our native tongue not mentally but bodily’.31 My own experience is that words can be tasted in the mouth, a kind of assaying akin to wine tasting. I often swill words around, allowing their sonic and semantic essence to open in the palate. Vowels and consonants taste differently, I have found, partly because of the differences in how they are produced, partly because of the meanings of the words in which they find themselves—sweet or sour, bitter or blocky.
Many poets display their awareness of the differential effect of vowels and consonants in their work. In a lovely poem called ‘Anahorish’, Seamus Heaney describes both place and sound. ‘Anahorish,’ he says, ‘soft gradient / of consonant, vowel-meadow’. In a poem entitled ‘A Talking Tour of the Home Counties’, Kevin Ireland sums it up:
Sloshing through slippery vowels,
tripping over bunched or gapped consonants,
picking a way through goosy sibilants.32 •
Anne M Carson is published internationally and widely in Australia. Massaging Himmler: A Poetic Biography of Dr Felix Kersten is forthcoming in 2019. She is an RMIT post-graduate research student. <www.annemcarson.com>.
- Jane Hirshfield, Nine Gates, HarperCollins, New York, 1997, p. 54.
- David Abrams, The Spell of the Sensuous, Vintage, New York, 1997, p. 241.
- Abrams, The Spell of the Sensuous, p. 242.
- John Felstiner, Paul Celan: Poet, Survivor, Jew, pp. 241–2, Google books, accessed 16 February 2016.
- Felstiner, Paul Celan, p. 220.
- Ruth Padel, 52 Ways of Looking at a Poem, Vintage, London, 2004, p. 44.
- Judith Beveridge lecture notes (called ‘The Sonic Level’), based on David Mason and John Frederick Nims (eds), Western Wind: An Introduction to Poetry, 5th edn, McGraw Hill.
- Beveridge lecture notes, p. 2.
- Erin O’ Dwyer, ‘Sarah Snook: “I’ve not quite Done My Time Yet,”’ Daily Life, accessed 5 April 2019, http://www.dailylife.com.au/dl-people/interviews/sarah-snook-ive-not-quite-done-my-time-yet-20150919-gjqks6.html.
- Beveridge lecture notes.
- Mary Oliver, A Poetry Handbook, Harvest Original, 1994, p. 31.
- Padel, 52 Ways of Looking at a Poem.
- Abrams, The Spell of the Sensuous, p. 241.
- May Sarton, Writings on Writing, p. 44.
- Padel, 52 Ways of Looking at a Poem, p. 44.
- ‘Aubudon: A Vision’, quoted in Oliver, A Poetry Handbook, pp. 29–30.
- Oliver, A Poetry Handbook, pp. 29–30.
- Donald Hall, ‘White Apples’, accessed 24 February 2016, <http://april-is.tumblr.com/post/87761502/april-5-2007-white-apples-donald-hall>.
- See <https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/197511-a-sentence-is-like-a-tune-a-memorable-sentence-gives>, accessed 31 May 2018.
- Booktopia blurb for Bloodaxe Books’ publication of Lewis’s Newcastle poetry lectures.
- Hirshfield, Nine Gates, p. 9.
- Joseph Hillis Miller, The Disappearance of God: Five Nineteenth-century Writers, Google books, accessed 17 February 2016.
- Fiona Burrows, ‘Wentworth Falls’, in Michael Sharkey (ed.), Australian Poetry Journal, vol. 4, no. 2, p. 126.
- Personal correspondence with Judith Beveridge.
- An interview with Robert Bly, <http://www.robertbly.com/int_6.html>.
- Anne Carson, ‘Sweet Pea’, in Sarah Holland-Batt and Brook Emery (eds), Australian Poetry Journal Anthology, vol. 4, 2015.
- Levine, ‘A Song of Seduction’.
- Abrams, The Spell of the Sensuous, p. 100.
- Padel, 52 Ways of Looking at a Poem, p. 44.
- Sarah Rice, Fingertip of the Tongue, UWA Publishing, Crawley, 2017, p. 13.
- Abrams, The Spell of the Sensuous, p. 75.
- Sharkey, Australian Poetry Journal, vol. 4, no. 2, p. 109.