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Introduction & Overview of Ordinary Words by Ruth Stone

This Study Guide consists of approximately 24 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Ordinary Words.
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Ordinary Words Summary & Study Guide Description

Ordinary Words Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Further Reading on Ordinary Words by Ruth Stone.

Ruth Stone's poem "Ordinary Words" is the title poem of her 1999 collection Ordinary Words. A mere seventeen lines, the poem is broken into two stanzas of eleven and six free-verse lines respectively. The first stanza consists of the speaker's reminiscence of a time when she hurt another person with her words and a description of the pain and regret she continues to feel for that act, even though the person is now dead. The second stanza is a simile, comparing the music of an ancient reed (i.e., a flute) with the ability of a blind bird to recall its grief.

Stone uses common language in the poem. It is not full of literary allusions or references to high art. She is known for depicting in a direct manner the everyday experiences of joy and sorrow that all human beings experience. Stone's style makes the poem accessible to a wide audience. The lament she expresses in the poem is for her husband, novelist and poet Walter B. Stone, who committed suicide by hanging himself in 1959. Ordinary words refers to both Stone's own poetic vocabulary and to the name she called her husband at the beginning of the poem. The phrase suggests that ordinary words have the power to do great harm to others.

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This section contains 214 words
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Poetry for Students
Ordinary Words from Poetry for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.