Night the Crystals Broke This Ballad Begins Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

Night the Crystals Broke

This ballad begins

On a far-away shore

A land she knew so well.

This land was green, filled with tropical sun

And her house was filled with mirth

Which also lay etched on their faces

Then the fires came

The smoke from the Ark

And the disintegration of the star

Quick, Quick,

They left

Quick Quick

They left

Her belongings stuffed

In a bag the size of her heart

Which beat

Faster Faster

When the arms of that Statue

Embraced her.

This ballad conveys the powerful theme of anti-Semitism and the experience of immigration. The speaker need not be anyone famous, although it seems that the speaker might be referring to an ancestor. Musing on the immigrant experience from the perspective of generations later conveys a powerful message of freedom and hope. Although the ideas could be developed better, and it has an irregular meter that poses rhythmic problems, the poem does fulfill the basic tenets of a lyrical ballad. The repetition of words like "quick" and "fast" complement the tone of tension that pervades the poem.

II. Tough Love

Recalling the way you smelled

When I first beheld your breath,

I now cry more than you when your body

Separated from mine

For the last time.

Recalling the way you cried

When I first put you on the bus

I now laugh more than you when

You burst out

After your first A.

Seeing you now

When your eyes are red and your breath reeks

I now know not what to do

You shun me

You need me.

Commentary: This is a free verse quatrain poem, and it is divided strictly into three stanzas of four lines each. The poem is rather brief but pithy; it captures the speaker's emotions rather than attempting at narrative. As a mother, the speaker has been through her child's ups and downs. The child's current state is troubling for the mom, who concludes, "you need me." The poet uses repetition skillfuly, as with beginning each stanza with a progressive verb ending in -- ing, which suggests ongoing activity. The poet's issue has yet to be resolved, and this lack of resolution is conveyed in the diction of the poem.

III. Shoe Sonnet

The shoes I see they stare at me all day

All sorts of colors that I love to see

Some begging to be worn so I can play

Some others that just shout please look at me!

The stunning array of soles in the world

Is not unlike the fields of wild flowers

From seed to bud to stem to leaf unfurled

So much like superheroes with powers

To look upon the leather and the heels

And the sequins and the sparkles they bear

Each pair, distinct, unique in its appeals

I need, I want, to have them all to share

The key to happiness is the right shoe

Even those who wear one pair know it's true.

Commentary: This seemingly silly sonnet nevertheless keeps to the traditional Shakespearean structure, which demands iambic pentameter and a structured ABABCDCDEFEFGG rhyme scheme. Moreover, the sonnet is developed according to the requisite thematic structure: which entails the opening metaphor, the development of that metaphor, and a resolution that sometimes involves a sort of "twist." The metaphor here is cloaked well, but it seems to be poorly developed. It seems as if the poet wants to compare shoe diversity to the diversity in humanity. Yet the ultimate goal is not accomplished as well as it could be by the final couplet.

IV. Haikus celebrate

Haikus celebrate

Frivolous human beings

Shunning the dour

V. Parrots

Cheerful loud squawking

Dancing when the rain arrives

Freely flying now

VI. Skeletons

Skeletons and death

Monstrous shadows in the night

Happy Halloween

Commentary: This trio of haikus offers a delightful insight into the incredible potential and range of this poetic form. The first of the haikus, "Haikus Celebrate" is a reflexive celebration of the poetic form, which in turn celebrates the whimsical or "frivolous" side of human nature. "Shunning the dour," the speaker suggests that the purpose of a haiku should be to uplift and energize the soul. A haiku may seem frivolous, but that side of human nature must be explored. The second haiku of this collection is called "Parrots," but the titular bird is mentioned nowhere in the verse. Instead, the poet paints a lively portrait of the brightly colored creatures. Because it is about nature, this is the only haiku of the trio that resembles traditional Japanese haiku. Finally, we have "Skeletons." "Skeletons" is a strange haiku that seems gothic at first, but offers a clever and amusing twist at the end.

VII. Acrostic Fun

Belly full

Eat some pork

Enjoy each sip


Commentary: This puerile acrostic spells the word "beer." As with all acrostics, the first letter of each line in the brief stanza is used to spell the theme word. The verse refers to beer, as the speaker talks about a full belly, snacking on pork, enjoying each sip, and repeating all of the above. There is no deeper meaning contained within this acrostic, and nor does there need to be. Although it is brief, this four-line poem captures the essence of a true acrostic.

VIII. Limerick

There once was a man named Josh

With dreads as long as Pete Tosh

When he cut his hair

There were bugs crawling in there

And all he said was "Oh my gosh!"

Commentary: This is possibly the worst limerick ever written. Although it conforms to the general structure, form, and rhyme scheme of the limerick, and although most limericks are silly, this one is particularly painful. The punch line is limp, and the reader feels a sense of disgust rather than being tickled by the typical humor inherent in a more classic and classy version of the folk style. The Irish would have cause to declare war if it knew that its heritage of clever verse had been so degraded.

IX. Blank Verse/Iambic Pentameter

Howling winds swept through the open pasture

A horse it whinnied and it was afraid

Its master ran to gather up supplies

The funnel, it approached them far too fast.

Before the man could reach the general store

The skies had broken open with the rain

Already the plains back home were flooded.

The horse it struggled in the growing mud

Inside the house his baby was screaming

Feeling more its mothers and father's fear

Than its own reaction to nature's way

Such is the destructive power of fear.

Commentary: This blank verse is penned in iambic pentameter, with rhythmic lines of ten metric feet each. The theme of fear emerges in this poem from the start, and diction like "afraid," and "fear" support the main theme. The poet explores multiple types of fear, too: the animal's basic fear of an impending storm; the fear of the parents for children, and also the existential threat that fear creates in the psyche of human beings. Imagery and motif of an impending storm also shape the prevailing tone of the poem. A storm is not in itself destructive, but fear certainly is. The iambic pentameter ensures a compelling rhythmic structure that is not undermined by the use of rhyme. Blank verse aids the sense of tension.

X. March

April's war cry

Soldiers march

Into the darkness, the mud clawing their boots

Marching forward as one, like bees

Swarming, a long Million Man March

Fighting for rights, freedoms, principles

Beware the Ides of March

When Caesar died

A March of Dimes is just a charity

Who are we helping

On our long march to the grave?

Commentary: This is a free verse poem that capitalizes on the word "march," and its many connotations in the English language. The month of March is named after the Greek god of war, Mars, making the imagery of the soldiers in war especially meaningful in this poem. References to the Million Man March's fight for freedom and liberty then link the impetus for the military endeavor with the ideology behind the civil rights movement. Therefore, the poet suggests that many wars, however messy, are fought to preserve the rights and freedoms of the people they defend. The poem takes a radical thematic turn, as reference to the charity March of Dimes leads to a frank discussion of death. A nihilistic tone is therefore juxtaposed with one that was, just a few lines earlier, peaceful.

XI. Legacy

A great son of man

A king among kings

He marched and he ran

To let freedom ring

Iconic hero

Who did many things

As strong as Nero

Martin Luther King

This is a rhyming poem, albeit not one with any traditional structure. Each line has five metric feet, or five syllables. The rhyme scheme is ABABCBCB. Although it is not divided into quatrains, it could be, because there are eight lines total. The poem is short, and pithy. There are no metaphors; only the one historical…

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