Master Piece

Henri Fotso


Henri Fotso

Henri Fotso is a contemporary poet about whom little is known.

His best-known piece is Master Piece,’ a lovely poem about Christmas.

‘Master Piece’ was the winner of the 2019 Christmas Poem Competition on The winner, Henri Fotso, is a twelve-year-old boy who penned this piece with the intention of reminding readers to always keep Christmas in their hearts. 

Master Piece by Henri Fotso



Master Piece’ by Henri Fotso is a moving, festive poem that speaks on the powerful joy Christmas can bring to one’s life. 

The poem follows the life of one man who knew Christmas well as a child but drifted away from the correct festive spirit as he aged. His mid-life was miserable, filled with drab, grey, and Christmas-less seasons. But, at the end of the poem, he comes face to face with a Christmas tree once again and becomes a new man. 


Poetic Techniques

‘Master Piece’ by Henri Fotso is a seven stanza poem that’s separated into uneven sets of lines. These stanzas vary from five to seven lines in length. There is no single rhyme scheme, but the lines do make use of half or slant rhyme. These are seen through the repetition of assonance or consonance. This means that either a vowel or consonant sound is reused within one line or multiple lines of verse. There are also examples of full or perfect rye as well. Such as with “eyes” and “surprise” in the first stanza. 

Fotso makes use of several other poetic techniques. These include epistrophe, enjambment, repetition, and alliteration. Epistrophe is the repetition of the same word, or a phrase, at the end of multiple lines or sentences. For instance, “baubles,” “ruffles” and “surprise” in the first and last stanzas.

 These examples are also connected to the wide-ranging technique of repetition or the use and reuse of a specific technique, word, tone or phrase within a poem. In the first stanza and last stanza, the poet uses a very similar line structure. The only alteration comes from the change in age.

Another important technique commonly used in poetry is enjambment. It occurs when a line is cut off before its natural stopping point. Enjambment forces a reader down to the next line, and the next, quickly. One has to move forward in order to comfortably resolve a phrase or sentence. In this piece, there are a few examples, such as the transition between lines one and two of the fourth stanza and lines four and five of the second stanza. 

Alliteration occurs when words are used in succession, or at least appear close together, and begin with the same letter. For instance, “jangly jangly” in stanza four and “cracks” and “crunches” in stanza six. The second of these moments is also an example of onomatopoeia in which a word that imitates the natural sound of something, such as “honk,” “boom” or in this case, “crack” and “crunch”. 


Analysis of Master Piece

Stanza One 

A boy of 3 steps up to his master piece,

The vibrance of the sparkled tinsle,

And the glowing flickering lights

Dazzle his joy filled eyes,

While his morphed reflection shines in baubles,

Which lay supspended from the emerald ruffles.

As he awaits his Christmas surprise.

In the first stanza of ‘Master Piece,’ the speaker begins by using the third person narrative perspective to describe the actions of a three-year-old boy. The child “steps up to his “master piece” and looks at the tingle sparkling in the light. In the next two lines a variety of similar adjectives are used, all of which are associated with light and warmth. There’s “glowing” and “flickering” as well as “Dazzle”.

Moving on to the next element the speaker describes the child’s reflection in the “baubles” or Christmas ornaments. Due to the curved shape of these simple, rounded decorations the child’s reflection is distorted. The ornaments emerge from the “emerald ruffles” of the tinsel. The mood is quite uplifting and warm. It’s clear the boy is enjoying the lead up to Christmas, especially because, as the seventh line states, there is a “surprise” in store for him.  


Stanza Two 

That Christmas and 6 more,

Had sparks of festive spirit,

Till a phone and computer consumed him,

And the green he dreamed of before,

Was no longer the tree.

In the next five lines of ‘Master Piece,’ the narrator goes on, telling the reader that the child had six more Christmases, after the one referenced in the first stanza that was just as joyous. As is the way of the modern world, the child grew up and came to care more for his “phone and computer”. Using alliteration, the poet speaks on how the “computer consumed” the child. 

In the last two lines of this stanza, the poet makes use of assonance through long “e” sound in “green” and “tree”. The narrator states that the child’s dreams changed and even at the age of nine learned to care more about money than about the “festive spirit” of Christmas. 


Stanza Three 

Winter rolled by many years later,

The boy now a man and a ginger wisp on his chin,

He had his own 2 boys and girl,

But not a spark of spirit,

Did he share from within.

Time passes in the third stanza of ‘Master Piece’  the poet tells the reader that “Winter rolled by”. The child grew up and became a man. Even though he has children and there’s a clear opportunity for him to regain the spark he had in his youth, he does not. 


Stanza Four 

He awakes one Christmas morning at 48,

To a glum and miserable silence,

Alone in a house where there was once 5,

He is covered in a humbug hide,

No lights no decoration no tree,

No jangly jangly bells nor reindeer,

To signify a merry sleigh ride.

In the fourth stanza, it’s clear the man is now forty-eight years old. He appears to be realizing his miserable situation. He’s alone without anyone to spend time with. There are no decorations, nor symbols of the Christmas season. 


Stanza Five 

He opens the dull curtains,

To see the white blanket all around,

Wrap around children as they play,

He looks and scours the piles of snow,

In search to look at the town statue,

However a Christmas tree is in his way.

The mood of ‘Master Piece’ changes dramatically. It now has a cold, withdrawn atmosphere. One in which a reader would likely not want to enter into. In these lines, he opens up the curtains and takes note of the fact that there is snow everywhere. Utilizing a metaphor, he determines that it looks like a blanket wrapping around the children playing outside. He tries to find “the town statue” but “a Christmas tree is in his way”. 


Stanza Six 

Grabbing his grey hat, grey coat, grey shoes,

He heads out to the winter world,

The snow cracks and crunches under his feet,

The gate creaks open, he approaches with care,

Now the two come together, eye to star,

Though they thought they wouldn’t again meet.

“Grey” is the colour of this stanza. The man’s clothes reflect his mood and his outlook on life. He moves outdoors, coming face to face with the Christmas tree he saw from outside his window. The man never thought that he’d be this close to the tree again since those joyous years of his youth. 


Stanza Seven 

A man steps up to his master piece,

The vibrance of the sparkled tinsle,

And the glowing flickering lights

Dazzle his joy filled eyes,

While his morphed reflection shines in baubles,

Which lay suspended from the emerald ruffles.

As he receives his Christmas surprise.

The seventh stanza of ‘Master Piece’ is a repetition of the first stanza, with a slight change. The first line acknowledges the passage of time. It appears, as this man confronts the past, present, and future, that his heart returns to its joyous, youthful state. 

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Emma Baldwin Poetry Expert
Emma graduated from East Carolina University with a BA in English, minor in Creative Writing, BFA in Fine Art, and BA in Art Histories. Literature is one of her greatest passions which she pursues through analyzing poetry on Poem Analysis.

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