Juliette Cavendish

I Have News by Juliette A. H. Cavendish

‘I Have News’ by Juliette A. H. Cavendish is a moving poem. In it, the speaker describes the aftermath of a death and how they contended with it.

I Have News by Juliette A. H. Cavendish

The poem is filled with interesting examples of imagery, ones that help to convey the speaker’s grief and confusion at the death clearly. The poet’s style is also quite effective in ‘I Have News.’ She uses short lines throughout, often breaking them into smaller phrases that only suggest an action or feeling. It requires piecing them together and reading deeper into what they suggest to complete the narrative.

I Have News by Juliette A. H. Cavendish


Summary

I Have News’ by Juliette A. H. Cavendish is a powerful poem written in the wake of an important loss.

The speaker spends the first stanza of the poem describing their reaction to a piece of news, someone they care deeply for has passed away. This person, who goes unnamed and mostly undescribed throughout the poem was incredibly close to them. They’re surrounded by a new emptiness that makes them feel both raw and numb. The funeral occurs, and the speaker considers the nature of death and the rituals surrounding burying someone. After the person is gone, and an amount of time has passed, the speaker still finds themselves moved by the loss. They go to their lost loved one’s grave and lie on the ground, as close to this person as they can be. The poem concludes with a final image of loss and darkness as the speaker contends with the new silence in their life.

Structure and Form

I Have News’ by Juliette A. H. Cavendish is an eight-stanza poem that is divided into sets of five lines, known as quintains. These quintains do not follow a specific rhyme scheme or metrical pattern. But, that doesn’t mean they are entirely without structure. They’re visually similar when it comes to their length with only a few lines, like line five of the second stanza, standing out. There are also a few examples of rhyme within the poem. For example, “light” at the end of line five of the first stanza and “might” at the end of line two of the second stanza.

Literary Devices

Throughout ‘I Have News,’ Cavendish makes use of several literary devices. These include but are not limited to:

  • Enjambment: occurs when the writer cuts off a line before its natural stopping point. For example, the transition between lines one and two of the first stanza and lines two and three of the fourth stanza. There are numerous examples throughout this poem.
  • Caesura: occurs when the poet inserts a pause into the middle of a line. This might be through punctuation or through the use of a natural pause in the meter. For example, “Urgent my confidant, share and burden feather light” from stanza one and “Drenching us, we, cycle on repeat” from stanza four.
  • Alliteration: can be seen when the poet repeats the same consonant sound at the beginning of words. For example, “sinking” and “somewhere” in line one of stanza one and “movement make” in line one of stanza five.
  • Imagery: occurs when the poet uses especially vivid descriptions. These should appeal to the reader’s senses. For example, “Lost with colour faded, heart of lead” in stanza one and “Soon ripples fade, ash as grains no movement make.”


Detailed Analysis

Stanza One

I have news relayed, and me sinking, falling somewhere

Depths of unfamiliar raw and numb

Lost with colour faded, heart of lead

But news of magnitude with need to tell

Urgent my confidant, share and burden feather light.

In the first stanza of ‘I Have News,’ the speaker begins with the speaker describing how they received a piece of news that altered their perspective on the world entirely. Through a series of glimpses, the writer provides readers with flashes of what the speaker was experiencing and doing. This style of writing is continued throughout the entire poem. There are few complete sentences in ‘I Have News.’ Rather, the poet chose to use chopping, short phrases that together convey a particular experience.

That experience, as described in the first stanza is marked by a “raw and numb” feeling, a juxtaposing series of emotions. The poet also uses a metaphor, “heart of lead” to describe how her speaker felt after receiving a piece of news.

Stanza Two

I sit with details of coffin silver handles

And flowers that will lie, as body might

Sprawled, cascading, perfume hiding

Truth opaque, below and soon to soil

Hands on shoulder, touch and sighs of lengthy sorrow.

It’s in the second stanza that it becomes clear that the news involved being informed that someone has died. Rather than stating this explicitly, the writer instead brings in new glimpses of information. There are “details of coffin silver handles” and “flowers.” The poet uses a simile to describe how the flowers lie “as body might.”

There’s a “perfume,” one used by those caring for the body after death, that hides the “truth.” Something the poet describes as “opaque.” Clearly, any efforts people have gone to in order to hide the fact that this person is dead are useless. No one is fooled, nor are they really supposed to be.

Stanza Three

Mountainous recount, the awfulness

Of finding not life, but still shape

On carpet red, and we required to stand back

And interpret all, life art, as sculpture

Not final line of stroke, silence beating rhythm.

The third stanza brings in more of the speaker’s emotional state. They’re incredibly moved by this whole thing but also aware of how obscured the process and rituals are. “We,” they state, are “required to stand back / And interpret all, life art, as sculpture.” There’s a way of dealing with death that the speaker is well aware of.

Stanza Four

I want the sun to sink low, rays that bow to this

As does the blackness of night

Engulf me, sundial of death shadow

Waves to roar with tidal tears and clouds to cry

Drenching us, we, cycle on repeat.

The fourth stanza evokes a need for things to change since this person’s death. It’s still unclear who they are or what relationship they have with the speaker. But, they want the “sun to sink low” and the speaker wants the “blackness of night” to “Engulf them.” Their sorrow is powerful and seeing it reflected in the natural world would make them feel as though the loss of the person they care about really affected something. But, of course, this isn’t how the world works. Instead, life goes on.

Stanza Five

Soon ripples fade, ash as grains no movement make

Dry face with sobbing heart and line of smile

As appropriate, but not for where you are

Where are you, my friend with need to tell

I lie on ground to share one beating heart.

As time passes, it becomes less and less appropriate for the speaker to be mourning. Tears give way to a “line of smile / As appropriate.” But, beneath all that, they’re still as moved by the death as they were at the beginning. They got to their “friend” and “lie on ground to share one beating heart.” In order to feel close to this person, they visit their friend’s grave.

Stanza Six

So much to tell with service black, and black was

Tea and biscuits after, for words too hard for some

I dial your number, fingers weary

And silence greets with nothing

Is that it my brother? Is end so blatant neat?

The sixth stanza suggests that the person who has passed away is the speaker’s “brother.” But, that word could, as it often does, be used to describe a close friend, someone who feels like a brother. The speaker dials their number out of grief and is met by “silence.” They question that silence, suggesting that the end couldn’t come so “blatant neat.” It’s hard to imagine that things ended so suddenly, they’re saying.

Stanza Seven

If I found you, essence stretching infinite vast

And shining star that mocks all logic

I doubt such concept can reason, should reason

Such fantasy as comfort

Given things considered, now and after.

The seventh stanza imagines a world in which the speaker finds their lost friend, beyond concept and reason. This could be an image of the afterlife in which the two are reunited or some other realm of existence. This fantasy brings some comfort but doesn’t touch the truth of the speaker’s situation.

Stanza Eight

So much to speak, but turn I did, and words were ready

Finding only void and black

Of anguish, sorrow, hurt and pain exquisite

Where did you go brother love and what are you?

I sit in silence, you as quiet fading, confidant gone.

The final stanza concludes the poem with an image of silence and darkness. The speaker’s confidant is “gone.” They faded into black to a place that the speaker can’t reach. They don’t understand “Where” this person went or what they are now. All there is is “void and black.”

Similar Poetry

Readers who enjoyed ‘I Have News’ should also consider reading some related poems. For example:

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I Have News by Juliette A. H. Cavendish
Emma Baldwin Poetry Expert
About
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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