The Unspoken Word: A Sestina and Accompanying Analysis

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic
An exploration of love, emotion, and the journey which is life, The Unspoken Word takes on the form of an adapted Sestina with the poem breaking away from strict Iambic Pentameter. The iconic scheme of a Sestina is maintained, preserving the integrity of the form and allowing for the six primary terms to be manipulated in order to create an emotional journey throughout. Complementary to the poem is an analysis explaining the process behind several important aspects, with a detailed breakdown of the poem as a whole and each stanza.

Submitted: October 25, 2016

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Submitted: October 25, 2016



The Unspoken Word


Never spoken of is the intractability of love,

not that of lust nor envy, but of undying emotion.

No dream casts its shadow over one’s life

and holds such passion, an arduous journey

towards a state of tranquillity, of pure bliss.

Joy is to be found in its resolution.


To find what is lost is deserving of a resolution,

the tides of time pass as so does love.

Yet both are eternal, a never-ending bliss,

neither does wane as they coexist with emotion;

One a human condition to measure the journey,

the other brought to a halt as so ends life.


As the train embarks and so begins life,

Little is spoken as of the resolution.

What seems a never-ending journey

away from the beginning bears little without love.

No life can be lived without emotion,

never complete, untouched by the gentle bliss.


The wheels shall churn, the ride is bliss,

yet both gain and lose pace as too does life.

No matter the emotion

felt in a kiss, a joyous resolution

to be had as both miss the mystery of love,

all beginnings must end, for such is the journey.


As the rails bend and warp so too does the journey,

yet the prospect of bliss

does little to soothe those who ache for love.

The wheels beat forth as life

does not stand still, resolution

at death having no limits on emotion.


So as the train whips forward, emotion

crafted in circumstance, little of the journey

is fated. For when the resolution

is finally reached, what we know as bliss,

can be taken too with life.

No limits, unspoken love.


Set aside your emotion, but never forgo bliss,

for as long as the journey continues so too will your fears; the wheels roll on with life.

Do not beg for an early resolution as there are many more worthy; ask simply for a chance to love.


Poem Analysis:

Poem Title:

The Unspoken Word, a title which does not, at first glance, share much with the reader, presents an air of mystery and the unknown. The very purpose of this title is to develop a basic complication of what the poem truly ‘speaks’ of, exploring the notion of life and love. As the poem progresses so too is the title developed, each stanza unveiling the meaning behind the title and culminating upon reaching the sixth stanza. Maintaining this allusion is necessary in presenting the reader with an incomplete meaning which is furthered as the poem continues, the ‘unspoken word’ revealed only as the significance of the work becomes clear.


Poem Form:

The poem assumes the form of a sestina, a rather unique structure which is not often seen in more modern compositions. The primary purpose of a sestina is to reinforce several primary words consistently at the end of each line in a stanza, altering their order throughout the six stanzas and then joining in either the tercet or the envoi. In this case an envoi was chosen as to conclude the running theme throughout the poem, one which speaks of love. A sestina is an incredibly expressive and meaningful form of poetry, and despite its lack of presence throughout modern society still reflects the meaningful nature and emotion which poetry evokes through various techniques. In this specific case the poem has strayed from Iambic pentameter, rather relying upon the use of powerful imagery techniques to continue the emotional journey which is the poem. A breakaway from the norm and the unique structure of the poem, distinguishing it from other poems which follow this scheme, is representative of the matchless nature of love itself.


First Stanza:

The first two lines of this stanza create context surrounding the so called ‘intractability of love’, moreso the incurable infatuation which does stem from such an emotional expression. Intractability does not represent a difficult task or challenge, what is being discussed is the impossibility and unsolvable riddle which is love. Establishing this at the beginning of the poem is necessary to develop the primary theme which progresses with the poem itself. The six words necessary in a sestina are established in this stanza, all reflective of the purity of love and the emotional journey which must be taken in order to attain such bliss and reach a fitting resolution. The way in which these words may be seamlessly integrated in a single sentence reflects their closeness and relevance to each other and hence translates directly to the exploration of love itself. The stanza as a whole continues to reiterate this theme while discussing the ‘passion’ and ‘tranquillity’ found with love, the concluding line making a brash statement about joy only found when riddle of love is resolved.


Second Stanza:

Through the format of a sestina, the notion of a resolution is further elaborated on, insinuating that finding the impossible is worthy of resolve. The first line continues into the second, discussing how the ‘tides of time’ pass, similar to love itself. This does not indicate love going away, rather rolling on as too does time. Such a statement is validated in the following line, which at first almost seems to juxtapose the previous line, however, supports this idea. Explored is the concept of emotion not only being the driving force behind love, but being responsible for the continuation of time too – for without love time proceeds at a different pace. Time being referred to as a ‘human condition to measure the journey’ reflects the values so prevalent within society, with time dictating life for many, emotions being cast aside. Yet what is not realised is the never-ending nature of time itself, and in contrast, the way in which love can only exist as too does the lover. The powerful stanza as a whole begins to establish what can be considered a thesis, one which must be tested as the poem progresses.


Third Stanza:

Initially established is the train, a symbol which is carried forward throughout the poem. The first line contrasts with the last line of the second stanza, presenting the beginning rather than the end of life as the area to investigate. The poem speaks of the end, or what may be representative of death, not being spoken of at the beginning. By the third line it is made clear that the train itself is representative of life, and no longer is this symbol as mysterious to qualify. Hence, the next few lines speak of life not lasting long without love, and then this message being reinforced with the statement about emotion. There is little doubt that love is among the most powerful emotions, only challenged by fear, a sensation explored later within the poem.  Essentially, this stanza presents the idea that life is love, and a life without love is meaningless. A powerful message, certainly, however not one which has been fully examined at this stage.


Fourth Stanza:

Continuing the symbolic representation of life, the ride is indicative of the undulating plane which is life, unpredictable and uncertain. The unconventional use of slight rhyme in a sestina with ‘bliss’ and ‘kiss’ is used in order to link the two lines ever so slightly, yet enough to speak of the resolution which can be reached. The last four lines are a single sentence, powerful in essence and maintaining a single meaning reinforced throughout each. The use of assonance evokes a feeling of uncertainty in regard to the journey, the mystery due to a longing for love. Finally, the stanza concludes that all which started must end, yet one must ask when love truly does start, and therefore whether it can ever end.


Fifth Stanza:

The first three lines are basic in their intentions, revealing that:

1. The journey is unpredictable and ever-changing

2. The belief that love will arbitrarily occur does little to comfort those who aspire towards love, for only when love is had can those who felt insecure feel reassured. 

The poem is not saying that love is the only emotion worthy of recognition, but rather it is the strongest to which people fall victim. The last three lines suggest that death is the only end to love, yet still emotion can persist beyond the point of no return. The idea that love is, theoretically, never-ending returns to the notion that time and love coexist as products of each other, neither being essential without the other. Life does not stand still and wait, neither does love, and it is for these reasons that little can be done to change the course of either – the journey.


Sixth Stanza:

Despite the previous stanza presenting the message that the journey is on a set course, this stanza contrasts this view in the first few lines, believing that the journey itself is hardly ‘fated’ and inciting the idea that we make our own destiny. It is not refuted that love is often taken upon death, yet the resolution itself is both the act of finding love and parting with this love at the end of time. The stanza ends with four words of steep emotional significance:

1. No limits = no boundaries, restriction or measurements for how long or how sever love can be.

2. Unspoken love = love that need not be stated, for it is received as an emotion and is almost incommunicable.



The Envoi can be broken down into the three lines, each conveying distinct meanings:

Line 1: Emotion does not need to be at the forefront of life all the time. Specifically, sacrifice can be made so long as bliss remains constant.

Line 2: The symbol returns to conclude the journey, both literally – the poem speaks its final breath – and in terms of life continuing despite fear being a prevalent emotion. Despite fear and love both being powerful emotions life shall continue, even when these both coincide.

Line 3: Love and death should not be sought, for many have looked for both and still find no resolve in their lives. Rather, hope and believe that love shall simply come (linking back to the stanza five in which the prospect of love does little to soothe those who ache for it). The poem concludes as it began, love being the central theme.

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