The HyperTexts

"Something"
by Michael R. Burch

Form, Theme, Analysis and Meaning, Tone, Diction and Literary Devices

If you are a student, scholar or educator interested in writing a paper about the Holocaust poem "Something" or have any other interest in the poem, you can read the author's own analysis and explanations below. You are also welcome to email him if you have questions or comments at mikerburch@gmail.com (please be sure not to miss the "r" between his first and last names). Composers are also welcome, as 26 of his poems have been set to music by 12 different composers.

You can find Burch's analysis of his poems here: "Auschwitz Rose" Analysis, "Epitaph" Analysis, "Something" Analysis, "Will There Be Starlight" Analysis, "Davenport Tomorrow" Analysis, "Neglect" Analysis, "Passionate One" Analysis, "Self Reflection" Analysis



This was the first non-rhyming poem that I wrote as a young poet. It came to me from "out of blue nothing"  . . .

Something
by Michael R. Burch

―for the children of the Holocaust and the Nakba

Something inescapable is lost—
lost like a pale vapor curling up into shafts of moonlight,
vanishing in a gust of wind toward an expanse of stars
immeasurable and void.

Something uncapturable is gone—
gone with the spent leaves and illuminations of autumn,
scattered into a haze with the faint rustle of parched grass
and remembrance.

Something unforgettable is past—
blown from a glimmer into nothingness, or less,
which finality has swept into a corner ... where it lies
in dust and cobwebs and silence.



Form, Theme, Analysis and Meaning: "Something" is a poem about loss, an elegy of sorts and a lament. The poem's main theme is loss: the ultimate loss of death with lives slipping through our fingers like vapor. The lines came to me from "out of blue nothing," to borrow a phrase from my friend the Maltese poet Joe Ruggier. This was the first poem I wrote that didn't rhyme, and my first free verse poem. The poem came to me completely unplanned, however, and it seemed to materialize on its own. I wrote it as a teenager, either toward the end of my senior year in high school or during my freshman year in college. I later dedicated "Something" to the children who died in the Holocaust and Nakba. It is, to put it simply, a poem of the heart and a poem of despair that such terrible things are possible.

Tone: The poem's tone can be described as somber, regretful, lamentatious, grieving, mournful, sad.

Poetic Diction: The poem's language is similar to that of an elegy or eulogy: formal, reserved, reverential. One can imagine the poem being read at a funeral for the victims of a school shooting, for instance.

Literary Devices: The poem's primary literary devices are imagery and metaphor, with each image being a metaphor for loss. The sounds of the words help convey impressions and feelings of loss, sadness and insubstantiality. However, to be honest, I must admit that in this case I didn't choose the words. It was more as if they chose me. The poem also employs understatement with the title and refrain "Something." This use of understatement is expanded upon in the "Title" section below.

Title: While it may seem like a nebulous term, I think "Something" suits the poem. In this case the "something" in question is actually of the utmost importance, so both the refrain and title are ironic. These lost "somethings" should have mattered immensely but to much of the world they apparently didn't and quickly became an afterthought. That is sad commentary on the human capacity for denial, but evidently true. We should not be using the term "something" in reference to the lives of our fellow human beings, especially children, but the poem's accusation is unfortunately supported by the weight of massive evidence, including but not limited to the Holocaust, the Trail of Tears and the Palestinian Nakba.

Genres: The poem is an elegy, a eulogy, a lamentation, a Holocaust poem and a protest poem similar in concept to Bob Dylan's "Blowin' in the Wind."

Publication History: "Something" has been published by There is Something in the Autumn (anthology), The Eclectic Muse (Canada), Promosaik (Germany), Setu (India), Borderless Journal (India), Boloji (India), FreeXpression (Australia), Poetry Super Highway, Poet’s Corner, Better Than Starbucks, The Chained Muse and Life and Legends. "Something" has also been used in numerous student Holocaust projects over the years. It has also been translated into Romanian by Petru Dimofte, translated into Turkish by Nurgül Yayman, turned into a YouTube video by Lillian Y. Wong, and used by Windsor Jewish Community Centre during a candle-lighting ceremony.

Bio: Michael R. Burch is an American poet who lives in Nashville, Tennessee with his wife Beth, their son Jeremy, and three outrageously spoiled puppies. His poems, epigrams, translations, essays, articles, reviews, short stories and letters have appeared more than 6,000 times in publications which include TIME, USA Today, The Hindu, BBC Radio 3, CNN.com, Daily Kos, The Washington Post, Light Quarterly, The Lyric, Measure, Writer's Digest—The Year's Best Writing, The Best of the Eclectic Muse, Unlikely Stories and hundreds of other literary journals, websites and blogs. Mike Burch is also the founder and editor-in-chief of The HyperTexts, a former columnist for the Nashville City Paper and, according to Google's rankings, a relevant online publisher of poems about the Holocaust, Hiroshima, the Trail of Tears, Darfur, Haiti, Gaza and the Palestinian Nakba. He has two published books, Violets for Beth (White Violet Press, 2012) and O, Terrible Angel (Ancient Cypress Press, 2013). A third book, Auschwitz Rose, is still in the chute but long delayed. Burch's poetry has been translated into fourteen languages and set to music by nine composers. His poem "First They Came for the Muslims" has been adopted by Amnesty International for its Words That Burn anthology, a free online resource for students and educators. He has also served as editor of International Poetry and Translations for the literary journal Better Than Starbucks.

For an expanded bio, circum vitae and career timeline of the poet, please click here: Michael R. Burch Expanded Bio.

You can find Burch's analysis of his poems here: "Auschwitz Rose" Analysis, "Epitaph" Analysis, "Something" Analysis, "Will There Be Starlight" Analysis, "Davenport Tomorrow" Analysis, "Neglect" Analysis, "Passionate One" Analysis, "Self Reflection" Analysis, Understatement Examples from Shakespeare and Elsewhere

The HyperTexts