1. What is the meaning of "To Autumn"? (open, score of +3)

    What I'm looking for is quite simply examples of commentary on devices in the poem "To Autumn", which would help me further develop my own interpretations. Within commentary, I would look for the identification of devices and the discussion of their effects with respect to maybe a theme or the development of tone, or anything else that may be relevant.

  2. https://literature.stackexchange.com/q/2151/17 (closed as "too broad", score of -3)

    What are the literary devices used in Ode to a Nightingale by John Keats, and to what effect?

The main difference I can see between these two questions is that the second is considerably shorter than the first. But both of them are still essentially asking for a list of literary devices in a particular poem - in short, a summary analysis of the poem - and yet the first one got a positive score and a good answer while the second one has been closed and left to rot.

Should questions asking what literary devices were used in a particular poem be on-topic?

If so, let's reopen the second question; if not, let's close the first one. Or is there really some essential difference between them which makes one on-topic and the other not?


1 Answer 1


One question, the question that is closed, asks for a list of every literary device in the poem.

The other question asks for general commentary on the meaning of the poem.

The closed question is too broad because it's asking us to list every device. In my mind it's too broad.

The second question is asking for help interpreting a poem. It uses the words "literary device", but that's about the extent of it. In fact, the part of literary devices isn't really important to the question, and can be edited out (as I have just done).

It has a specific question:

It's been described as "nearly perfect, but doesn't have a lot to say". If I'm not wrong, its only aim is to describe/praise Autumn. How would one effectively comment on Keats' writing in such a context?

And it therefore received a specific answer.

Hence why the first is closed but the second is open.

Of course, the concept of literary devices isn't a helpful way to look at literature. Listing the literary devices of a poem doesn't really tell you much about the poem. What does the fact that [poem x] uses alliteration, or symbolism, tell you about [poem x]? Not much! If you want to learn more about poetry, literary devices aren't the way to go.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .