Throughout ‘The Sun Has Burst The Sky,’ Jenny Joseph uses easy-to-read and easy to relate to imagery. Her language is simple and effective. The reader should walk away from this poem with a complete understanding of how the speaker feels about “you” and perhaps even admiration for their use of hyperbole and juxtaposition.
Explore The Sun Has Burst in the Sky
‘The Sun Has Burst the Sky’ by Jenny Joseph it’s a simple, effective poem that uses natural images to describe the intensity of one person’s love.
In the first lines of the poem, the speaker begins a series of hyperbolic images that compares their love to features in the natural world. The speaker says that because their love is so strong, the river breaks its banks, the tide disobeys the moon, ships honk their horns, and more. All throughout the poem, the speaker repeats the line “I love you,” ensuring that the intended listener, someone who is only described as “you,” never forgets how they feel.
You can read the full poem here.
The sun has burst the sky
Because I love you
And the river its banks.
In the first lines of the poem, the poet makes use of a literary device known as hyperbole. Here, her speaker describes the sun bursting in the sky and the river flooding its banks “because I love you.” This is an effective and interesting way of emphasizing their love for another person. In reality, the river did not burst its banks because of the speaker’s love. But, by suggesting that it did, the intended listener should understand the extent of the speaker’s feelings.
As the stanzas progress, the speaker repeats, “I love you.” This is yet another way that the poet chose to effectively convey the speaker’s emotions.
The sea laps the great rocks
And saying coldly ‘Constancy is not for you’.
In the second stanza, the speaker continues to describe how the world reacts to their love. They say that the ocean disobeys the influence of the moon “because I love you.” The moon is personified in these lines and speaks, “constancy is not for you.” It is at once speaking to the tide and to the person who is in love. But, because the speaker has already described the tide disobeying, it’s clear that they’re determined that “Constancy” in emotion and a relationship is for them.
The blackbird fills the air
With springs and lawns and shadows falling on lawns.
In the third stanza, the poet continues their examples of hyperbole and also utilizes juxtaposition. They say that the “blackbird fills the air” and “springs and lawns and shadows falling on lawns” also occur because of the speaker’s love. Here, this speaker juxtaposes two contrasting images. These are the darkness of the blackbird, the shadows on lawns, and “spring.”
The people walk in the street and laugh
I love you
And far down the river ships sound their hooters
Crazy with joy because I love you.
In the final stanza of ‘The Sun Has Burst The Sky,’ the speaker moves away from strictly animal and landscape-based imagery to describe “people.” They say that the people walk on the street and laugh and “far down the river ships sound their hooters” because “I love you.” In total, the poet uses the phrase “I love you” five times within the short stanza poem. No matter what happens, the speaker is constant in their love, they are suggesting.
Structure and Form
‘The Sun Has Burst in the Sky’ by Jenny Joseph is a four-stanza poem. The first and third stanzas are tercets, meaning they have three lines, and the second and fourth stanzas are quatrains, meaning they have four lines. The poem is written in free verse. This means that the lines do not follow a specific rhyme scheme or metrical pattern. Despite this, readers can find a loose structure within the poem as the poet repeats certain elements. For example, the repetition of the phrase “I love you” and “Because I love you.”
Throughout ‘The Sun Has Burst The Sky,’ the poet uses several literary devices. These include but are not limited to:
- Anaphora: can be seen when the poet repeats the same word or phrase at the beginning of multiple lines. For example, in the first and second stanza the poet uses the word “And” to start three lines.
- Personification: occurs when the poet imbues nonhuman objects, animals, or elements with human characteristics. In this case, the speaker provides the moon with a dialogue and describes it engaging in human-like actions.
- Enjambment: occurs when the poet cuts off a line before its natural stopping point. For example, the transition between lines two and three of the first stanza as well as lines two and three of the third stanza.
- Alliteration: seen through the repetition of the same consonant sounds at the beginning of words. For example, “sun” and “sky” in line one of stanza one and “coldly ‘Constancy” in line four of the second stanza.
The central theme of this poem is love. The speaker is filled with love for their intended listener, who they refer to as “you” throughout this poem. They use examples of hyperbole to suggest the extent of their love, saying that the river breaks its banks, the ships sound their horns, and more because of the strength of the speaker’s love.
The meaning is that the speaker has an overwhelming love for one person that is so strong they feel that it influences the natural elements around them. This is an intentionally exaggerated description that is meant to emphasize their love in an effective way.
Jenny Joseph likely wrote this poem in order to express a particular kind of love, one that is overwhelming and all-consuming. Whether or not the speaker is the poet herself is not important. What is important is the reader’s connection to the speaker’s words.
The speaker is someone who is completely in love with another person. So much so that they use a series of hyperbolic images, all of which are concerned with the natural world, to emphasize that love. It is unclear whether or not the speaker is the poet herself. But, knowing the speaker’s exact identity is not important for one’s understanding of the poem.
Readers who enjoyed this poem should also consider reading some other Jenny Joseph poems. For example:
- ‘Warning’ – describes what the future has in store as one ages and throws off societal restraints and expectations.
Other related poems include:
- ‘Love’ by Eavan Boland – was published in Eavan Boland’s 1994 collection In a Time of Violence. It speaks on themes of love, regret, and memory.
- ‘Love After Love’ by Derek Walcott is presented in the form of a person offering advice to someone who is distressed.