Dana Gioia Writing Styles in The Litany

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Repetition of Word or Image

The poem uses repetition of the same word at the beginning of several verses for thematic emphasis. Five of six stanzas begin with “This is” followed by either “litany,” “liturgy,” or “prayer”—all used in a similar way to emphasize the loss of a loved one as well as the loss of faith. The variation in the three words reflects the dual nature of the loss. A litany could be a series of prayers or a list, having both a religious and a secular connotation. Yet the repetition of the word and its variations implies that the one loss, that of a loved one, has caused the other loss, that of faith in the rightness of the cycle of life.

Images are also repeated in stanzas 2, 4, and 6 to reinforce the focus on this cycle. In stanza 2, the life-giving part of the cycle emerges as...

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This section contains 625 words
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Buy The Litany Study Guide
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