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First Fight Then Fiddle

Page history last edited by Kvani 15 years, 8 months ago

by Gwendolyn Brooks (1949)


[1]First fight. Then fiddle. Ply the slipping string A

With feathery sorcery; muzzle the note B

With hurting love; the music that they wrote B

Bewitch, bewilder. Qualify to sing A

Threadwise. Devise no salt, no hempen thing A

For the dear instrument to bear. Devote B

The bow to silks and honey.[2] Be remote B

A while from malice and from murdering[3]. A

[4]But first to arms, to armor. Carry hate C

In front of you and harmony behind. D

Be deaf to music and to beauty blind. D

Win war. Rise bloody, maybe not too late C

For having first to civilize a space E

Wherein to play your violin with grace[5]. E


  1. The scheme is similar to the Italian structure because it has an octave but the endings differ, however at the same time it ends in a couplet which is characteristic of the English style
  2. Way in which form relates to the poems meaning: Brooks indicates through her poem that you have to overcome obstacles before being able to enjoy an art form. For example, she illustrates in this particular poem that you must fight before playing the fiddle. Form and line structure in particular must be thought of prior to writing the poem in order to connect it to the theme properly,
  3. First half of the poem (prior to the turn) focuses more on the idea of the fiddle whereas the second part focuses more on the obstacles that must be overcome in order to the play the fiddle
  4. Turn - at the start of the sestet Brooks uses the Italian and English structures of a sonnet to show how she can blend the two structures together. During this time, poets may have wanted to move away from the norms of poetry and therefore wanted to create their own unique form by combing the two structures.
  5. Meter and Rhyme structure - Brooks does not stress the meter, line, or rhyme because many rhymed lines are connected to the following line in terms of meaning = enjambment

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