You are on page 1of 5

Michael Villafana

Professor Avery
Essay #3
2 May 2016
Coldplays Poetic Elements in Yellow
Sixteen years ago, the UK based band Coldplay struck it rich with their first album
release titled Parachutes. The song that became most popular in the UK was their new hit
Yellow. It took a while for Yellow to catch on in the United States, but once it did, it topped
out at its highest ranking of number 4 on the charts. Poetic elements within Yellow are a major
reason why the song had so much success, and why it is still popular today. Many misinformed
people believe that poetic elements are just found in poems, but Coldplay proves that it can make
a song stronger by the use of metaphors and repetition which allows the song to flow better and
become more pleasant to listen to. Coldplays song Yellow is a quality example of how poetic
elements can affect a song in a positive manner.
For obvious reasons, color has a big impact of the song Yellow. Similar impact is made
in Ella Wheeler Wilcoxs poem titled I Love You. In Coldplays hit song, the color yellow is
the main focus of the song, which leads to it having two different meanings in the song. In the
beginning of the song, yellow is used to refer to being cowardly and afraid. In the context of the
song, the speaker is scared and afraid to tell the person they have feelings for them. The second
meaning of yellow in this song is hope and happiness. In the lyrics, it states "I swam across, I
jumped across for you, Oh what a thing to do, cause you were all yellow (19-22). In this
instance, he pulled off a daring move to obtain happiness that this girl would give him when he
was with her. Coldplay uses the color yellow to help paint a picture for the listener, which is also

Villafana 2

what Wilcoxs poem does a terrific job of. For example, she states I love your arms when the
warm white flesh Touches mine in a fond embrace and I love your lips when theyre wet with
wine And red with a wild desire (1-2, 5-6). The image she portrays by white flesh is the image
of bare skin touching one another. Also, she describes the wine as red with wild desire, which
paints the picture of a ripe red wine that could stain anything that is not red. In addition, it is
commonly known that love is depicted using the color red. Thus, red is an appropriate color to
use in a scene that includes kissing, as a kiss is a form of love. The use of colors in Coldplays
and Wilcoxs works allows the reader and listener to paint a descriptive picture in their heads to
help follow along with the events of the work. This poetic element makes the poem and music
more enjoyable to read and listen to.
Another poetic element that Yellow and I Love You share is the use of metaphors. A
metaphor is a figure of speech which makes an implicit, implied or hidden comparison between
two things that are unrelated but share some common characteristics (Metaphor Definition).
This poem and song both include several metaphors throughout the work. First, in Coldplays
song, he uses a metaphor to describe the person that the narrator is in love with. They state Your
skin Oh yeah your skin and bones Turn into something beautiful You know you know I love you
so You know I love you so (13-19). When Coldplay states your skin, they are talking about her
outer features, which in essence means he is saying that she is beautiful looking. Then when he
says bones, he is talking about the inner features, which can include charming personality and
similar interests. The lyric can also be broken down to mean that the speaker is saying the girl
can make something out of nothing, such as taking skin and bones and turn herself into
something beautiful. In Wilcoxs poem, she uses metaphors to describe several objects. In the
poem, it states the phrase heart of a spotless dove (12). By this metaphor, Wilcox was

Villafana 3

attempting to describe the innocent love that the narrator wanted from her partner. Another
phrase that she uses is virgins bloodless love and calm kiss (10). When referring to love,
Wilcox uses this metaphor to describe a type of love that lacks fire and passion. The poetic
element, metaphor, helps Coldplay and Wilcox add flavor and a distinct expression to their
literary and musical work.
The use of repetition is another key poetic elements that both this song and poem display.
In Yellow, the key phrase look how they shine (2) is used a total of eight times during the
song. The connection between stars, shine, and yellow is an important one. In most artists
paintings, stars are usually painted as yellow, which would normally give off the most shine
effect. In addition, when someone sees a clear sky full of stars, that is normally a happy scene.
Thus, the use of the phrase look how they shine is used to add a happy vibe to counteract the
negative form of yellow. In I Love You, the title is repeated numerous times throughout the
poem. In total, the phrase is used four times throughout the short poem. In the first stanza, she
uses the phrase as a way to describe the love she has for the unidentified recipient. Following
each time the phrase is used, she describes a specific thing that she likes about him. For example,
she states I love your hair when the strands enmesh (7). The four body parts that she
specifically identifies are his lips, eyes, arms, and hair. The use of repetition in the poem
reassures the reader the love the narrator has for the unnamed person. Repetition is a good poetic
element because it helps focus in on what the poem or song is about.
There is also other poetic elements that both Yellow and I Love You share. Both
works share some sort of rhyme scheme, with Wilcoxs work having a more defined scheme. In
her poem, the first stanza goes ABCB DEDE. The second stanza follows a more traditional
rhyme scheme of ABAB CDCD, and the third stanza being similar as ABAB CDED. In

Villafana 4

Yellow, though, there is no definite rhyme scheme, there is intentional rhyming throughout the
song. In musical works, rhyming allows the song to flow and sound better to its listeners. In
addition to rhyming, Yellow uses the poetic device synecdoche. In the song, it states Oh yeah
your skin and bones Turn into something beautiful (13-15). This is a synecdoche to represent
the body as a whole, but Coldplay uses skin and bones to be more descriptive. In Wilcoxs poem
I Love You, she uses personification to help describe a scene. Wilcox uses the phrase heart of
a spotless dove (12) as an example of this. A dove is known as a peaceful and innocent animal,
so Wilcox gives it those qualities. The literary devices in Coldplays song and Wilcoxs poem
help draw in the viewer and make them think about what they are saying.
Literary devices were numerous in both Coldplays Yellow and Ella Wheeler Wilcoxs
I Love You. These literary devices play a bigger role on songs and poems than people give
them credit for. In these two works alone, literary devices help the flow of the song and poem,
reiterates the themes of the work, and makes the reader or listener truly think about the meaning
of the words being read or heard. Literary elements are a key reason why people still listen to
Yellow and read I Love You.

Villafana 5

Works Cited
Martin, Chris. Yellow. Coldplay. Rec. 26 June 2000. Ken Nelson, 2002. CD.
Metaphor Definition. Literary Devices Definition and Examples of Literary Terms, 2016.
Web. 2 May 2016.
Wilcox, Ella Wheeler. I Love You. Poetry Foundation. Poetry Foundation, n.d. Web. 2 May
2016.