Poetry, as a type of literary skill, uses language for its artistic and suggestive qualities so as to generate a deeper meaning of a subject. Poetry for the most part is directed by distinctive forms and principles to imply a degree of difference in understanding of words, and/or to suggest sensitive responses. The use of poetic styles such as rhythm, assonance, onomatopoeia, and alliteration are from time to time employed to attain musical effects in people’s everyday conversation as well as music. Not only irony, symbolism, and ambiguity have been used in such texts, but also similes and metaphors. Rhythm and rhyme can also be employed in the same. The lyrics of the song “You Oughta Know” by Alannis Morissette have many poetic forms in it that it is significantly qualified as a poem because most of the above mentioned styles were incorporated in the song lyrics.

Description of the Song

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This rock song is a gnashing-of-the-teeth message from a contemptuous former girlfriend intended for an ex-lover. In a poetic point of view, it depicts an idyll since it is restricted to a small personal world and illustrates outlook from everyday life. It can also be associated with a ballad since it tells astory. Morissette once hinted that it concerns a particular person who was not even aware that the song is about him and who has not contacted her. She added that no one would ever know who that person is. At some point, word got out that the song had to be about Dave Coulier, an actor by profession, whom she dated when she was 16 years old while the man was 31 years of age. This is evident in her song; when he sang the words “an older version of me”, Coulier had a role as Joey on “Full House”, aTV show. When contacted by Calgary Sun in August 2008, Coulier confirmed that the song is about their unsteady relationship. There is a concealed track at the closing stages of her album “Jagged Little Pill” that apparently expresses the day she caught her boyfriend pants down.

Forms of poetry. In the first stanza of the song there is the use of rhetorical questions like “Is she perverted like me? Would she go down on you in a theater? Does she speak eloquently? And would she have your baby?” This leaves the listener pondering about the answers to the questions posed. There is also the use of assonance in the first line of the second stanza when she says, “Cause the love that you gave that we made”. The form of assonance lies in the words &lddquo;made” and “gave” as the repetition of vowel sounds is evident. There is also the use of repetition in most of her lines. This is normally used to emphasize a point that is important and suggestive. In the last line of the song, the author repeats the word “you” when she sings, “You, you, you oughta know”. This shows that the message she had been passing all through the song focuses on one person (Dave Coulier, the man who broke her heart). The use of rhyme in the lyrics also gives a notion that the song is poetic. At some point, the lyrics go like “It's not fair, to deny me/of the cross I bear that you gave to me”. The word “me” has formed a rhyming scheme that creates rhythmical form of poetry. Finally, the metaphor had been used to describe her ex-boyfriend: “Did you forget about me, Mr. Duplicity?”


The lyrics of the song "You Oughta Know" by Alannis Morissette and Glen Ballard have proved that it contains very compact form of communication that packs a lot of information into a text, hence it can be regarded as a poem. Many forms of poetic styles have been employed to capture the attention of the reader, thus creating a suggestive idea.