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“But You Didn’t”- Merrill Glass

SUMMARY
This poem was written to help the speaker get through the grieving process after the death of her
lover. In each stanza the poet outlines a goodSUMMARY
trait, she reasserts this trait through repetition. The
first three stanzas of Merrill Glass’s “But You Didn’t” commence with the speaker innocently asking
her lover a series of “Remember when…” questions that stem from memories of incidents in the
couple’s past and what she thought would happen. The speaker concludes by saying, “But you
didn’t.” poet opens the final stanza with “There were plenty of things you did to put up with me, to
keep me happy, to love me,” which piques the reader’s interest into how the relationship ended
when the speaker’s lover seemed so loyal. The final line has a strong impact on the reader as we
realise that the speaker of the poem has lost the one she loves and that everything we have read
so far is now overshadowed by a sense of regret and sorrow.

TONE:The tone is one of deep sadness, pain of loss, helpless sorrow, dealing with death, taking people for
granted, nostalgia and regret.

POETIC TECHNIQUE
Repetition

LINE
“Remember the time”
“But you didn’t"

EFFECT
The repetition gives the
sense of reminiscing. The
poet is remembering past
events spent with her loved
one

Simple colloquial language

The poem reads like a
conversation, first asking a
question and then providing
a response

The use of simple language
makes the poem easy to
understand

Structure

Question
Response
Statement - “ But you
didn’t"

The structure of the poem
makes the ending have even
more of an impact on the
reader

Crescendo

1st - 3lines
2nd- 4 lines
3rd- 5 lines
4th- 6 lines

The increasing length of
each verse create a
crescendo and a slightly
hysterical tone, making
more of an impact with the
final line.

Imagery

dented car
jeans at the dance
flirting with boys
going to war

Each verse provides an
image. They are simple, not
evocative but used to set
the scene. they are
effective in imprinting on
the readers mind.

Use of personal pronouns

“I”
“you”

emphasises how much of an
impact this has had on her
life. makes the poem more
personal. we feel sympathy
for the poet

THEMES

WORDBANK

Fragility of life, taking the precious time
reminiscing
futility nostalgia cherish
we have for granted, futility of war,
overwhelming colloquial
crescendo
tragedy of loss of young life due to war, the devestation
empathetic
pathos
uncertainty of the future.