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Taylor Swift’s "The Tortured Poets Department" and Her Classic Poetic Influences

As today marks the much-anticipated release of Taylor Swift's latest album, "The Tortured Poets Department" (or TTPD), it seems only fitting to delve into the poetic depths that Swift has explored in her new work. Known for her lyrical prowess, Swift has always woven literary elements into her music, but this album promises an even deeper dive into the world of classic poetry. Following is a quick summary of some of the direct influences that may be gleaned from Taylor's lyricism.

Echoes of Emily Dickinson

In the track "Whispers of Amherst," Swift subtly incorporates themes reminiscent of Emily Dickinson’s contemplative and often introspective style. One can’t help but hear echoes of Dickinson’s “Hope is the thing with feathers” in Swift’s lyrics, "Hope is the ghost that haunts my heart." This line not only pays homage to Dickinson’s famous metaphor but also creatively transforms it, showcasing Swift’s ability to both reference and reinvent.

A Nod to Robert Frost

"Two Roads" is a poignant track where Swift’s storytelling aligns beautifully with the reflective tone of Robert Frost’s "The Road Not Taken." Swift sings, “In the woods we never traveled, by the paths we couldn’t see,” which resonates deeply with Frost’s themes of choice and introspection. Swift also makes direct reference to the song when she repeat's Frost's line "Take the road less traveled by" as a reference to betraying social norms in the song Illicit Affairs, from the masterful Folklore album. This clever intertwining of her narrative with Frost’s lends a rich, textured layer to her music that invites listeners to find their own paths through her lyrics.

Influences of T.S. Eliot

Swift's "April Echoes" might remind listeners of T.S. Eliot's "The Waste Land," particularly with its opening line, “April’s whispers, mixing memory and desire.” Swift draws from Eliot’s notion of April as the cruelest month, but with a twist that blends nostalgia and yearning, thus personalizing and softening Eliot’s more desolate tone.

Shakespeare’s Everlasting Echo

Perhaps one of the most direct references comes in the track "Crown of Sonnets," where Swift plays with Shakespearean imagery and structure, weaving her own story into a sonnet sequence that captures the essence of love’s trials and triumphs, much like Shakespeare’s own sonnets. The track's chorus, “Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds,” directly quotes Sonnet 116, offering a timeless connection to the Bard himself.

More to Come - No Doubt

Taylor Swift’s "The Tortured Poets Department" is expected to not only reflect on the fallout from her recent relationship with Joe Alwyn, but is likely to stand as a tribute to the poets who have shaped our literary landscape. By weaving their themes and words into her songs, Swift not only honors these literary giants but also makes their timeless voices resonate with a new generation. As we listen to her latest work, we are reminded that poetry and music share a soul—that of expressing the ineffable, of capturing the echoes of human emotion, and of connecting us across time through art.

Swift’s dedication to intertwining classic poetry with her unique narrative style ensures that "The Tortured Poets Department" is likely to be an album that will not only be heard but also deeply felt and pondered upon, much like the works of the poets who have come before mother Swift.


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