DEFINITION OF TONE
The tone of a poem is roughly equivalent to the mood it creates in the reader. Think of an actor reading a line such as "I could kill you." He can read it in a few different ways: If he thinks the proper tone is murderous anger, he might scream the line and cause the veins to bulge in his neck. He might assume the tone of cool power and murmur the line in a low, even voice. Perhaps he does not mean the words at all and laughs as he says them. Much depends on interpretation, of course, but the play will give the actor clues about the tone just as a poem gives its readers clues about how to feel about it. The tone may be based on a number of other conventions that the poem uses, such as meter or repetition. If you find a poem exhilarating, maybe it's because the meter mimics galloping. If you find a poem depressing, that may be because it contains shadowy imagery. Tone is not in any way divorced from the other elements of poetry; it is directly dependent on them.


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