My Grandmother by Elizabeth Jennings
She kept an antique shop – or it kept her. Among Apostle spoons and Bristol glass, The faded silks, the heavy furniture, She watched her own reflection in the brass......
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She kept an antique shop – or it kept her. Among Apostle spoons and Bristol glass, The faded silks, the heavy furniture, She watched her own reflection in the brass......
In my dark hermitage, aloof From the world’s sight and the world’s sound, By the small door where the old roof Hangs but five feet above the ground....
When men were all asleep the snow came flying, In large white flakes falling on the city brown, Stealthily and perpetually settling and loosely lying.....
No, no, go not to Lethe, neither twist Wolf's-bane, tight-rooted, for its poisonous wine; Nor suffer thy pale forehead to be kiss'd.......
White sky, over the hemlocks bowed with snow, Saw you not at the beginning of evening the antlered buck and his doe Standing in the apple-orchard......
Huge vapours brood above the clifted shore, Night on the ocean settles dark and mute, .....
Cetacean by Peter Reading is a simplistic descriptive poem, set on a vessel “some sixty-three feet........
The Kraken, by the acclaimed Poet Laureate of Great Britain, Alfred Lord Tennyson is an unusual Petrarchan sonnet......
She kept an antique shop – or it kept her.
Among Apostle spoons and Bristol glass,
The faded silks, the heavy furniture,
She watched her own reflection in the brass
Salvers and silver bowls, as if to prove
Polish was all, there was no need of love.
And I remember how I once refused
To go out with her, since I was afraid.
It was perhaps a wish not to be used
Like antique objects. Though she never said
That she was hurt, I still could feel the guilt
Of that refusal, guessing how she felt.
Later, too frail to keep a shop, she put
All her best things in one narrow room.
The place smelt old, of things too long kept shut,
The smell of absences where shadows come
That can’t be polished. There was nothing then
To give her own reflection back again.
And when she died I felt no grief at all,
Only the guilt of what I once refused.
I walked into her room among the tall
Sideboards and cupboards – things she never used
But needed; and no finger marks were there,
Only the new dust falling through the air.
Analysis: My Grandmother is a narrative poem, describing the poet’s memories of her grandmother before her death. It uses her grandmother’s antique belongings as a means of describing her. They reflect her state of being as the poet progresses through the flashback of memories.
The poem helps purge the poet of her guilt; it is a catharsis of her guilt. “And when she died I felt no grief at all, only the guilt of what I once refused” suggests that the narrator did not grieve because they were not that close and that the grandmother herself was a reserved woman who was involved with herself (her antique objects) and didn’t express love easily. “She watched her own reflection in the brass.. Polish was all, there was no need of love”.
Nevertheless, the speaker still felt guilty because she recalls she once refused her grandmother’s request. “And I remember how I once refused to go out with her, since I was afraid.” Tells the audience using a solemn tone, that this action was deep down a refusal to make memories with her grandmother and this absence of memories indicates the absence of a loving relationship between them. The guilt the poet feels of not having tried to build memories with her grandmother is depicted in the structure of the poem; the lines are enjambed which gives an accumulative effect of her guilt pouring out. Asyndeton is used to further show the absence of a strong bond between grandmother and granddaughter.
Throughout the poem, the audience remains an outsider, because the poet disconnects their pathos for her grandmother, just as she had done. This shows the audience that she too felt like a spectator in his grandmother’s life. Her description of her grandmother aids in this effect using dysphemism to show her in an overtly negative light using negative diction, rather than positive light which is often associated with happy memories, but is not the case here. This antithesis of black and white (memories) is explicated in her Grandmother’s care of her artifacts. “things she never used But needed”
“The place smelt old” is transferred epithet for the grandmother who was growing old “of things too long kept shut” suggests the grandmother too shut herself away and with it, all the love that she could have shared. “That can’t be polished. There was nothing then to give her own reflection back again” refers back to the first stanza of six lines when she could use her antique shop as an excuse to barricade herself away. And the boundaries she created to do so continued to grow smaller, progressing from a shop to a “long narrow room”. The visual imagery created by these two settings and the grandmother obsessively cleaning the antiques until she could clean no more, (which is when she lost sense of who she was “nothing there to give her own reflection.”).Illustrates that the grandmother could be holding on to something in the past and her unwillingness to let go, not only jeopardized her relationship with her granddaughter but also forced her to be enclosed and shrink into herself.
“It was perhaps a wish not to be used like antique objects”. The simile expresses the poet’s wish to not become an emotional vessel for her grandmother, thus there was refused to connect from both their sides. This eventually culminated in the after effect of grandmother’s death on the poet.
“No finger-masks were there, only the new dust falling through the air”, conveys that a lack of memories formed between them didn’t leave any lasting imprint of her grandmother on the poet.
In my dark hermitage, aloof
From the world’s sight and the world’s sound,
By the small door where the old roof
Hangs but five feet above the ground,
I groped along the shelf for bread
But found celestial food instead:
For suddenly close at my ear,
Loud, loud and wild, with wintry glee,
The old unfailing chorister
Burst out in pride of poetry;
And through the broken roof I spied
Him by his singing glorified.
Scarcely an arm’s-length from the eye,
Myself unseen, I saw him there;
The throbbing throat that made the cry,
The breast dewed from the misty air,
The polished bill that opened wide
And showed the pointed tongue inside;
The large eye, ringed with many a ray
Of minion feathers, finely laid,
The feet that grasped the elder-spray;
How strongly used, how subtly made
The scale, the sinew, and the claw,
Plain through the broken roof I saw;
The flight-feathers in tail and wing,
The shorter coverts, and the white
Merged into russet, marrying
The bright breast to the pinions bright,
Gold sequins, spots of chestnut, shower
Of silver, like a brindled flower.
Soldier of fortune, northwest Jack,
Old hard-times’ braggart, there you blow
But tell me ere your bagpipes crack
How you can make so brave a show,
Full-fed in February, and dressed
Like a rich merchant at a feast.
One-half the world, or so they say,
Knows not how half the world may live;
So sing your song and go your way,
And still in February contrive
As bright as Gabriel to smile
On elder-spray by broken tile.
Analysis: The most striking element of the descriptive poem, Stormcock in Elder by Ruth Pitter would be its vivid visual imagery of the bird Stormcock. But as one delves deeper into the poem, the bird symbolizes the ‘Messenger of hope’ alluded to the archangel Gabriel with his horn.
The transcendental theme is put into effect when the poem is set in solitude, allowing the readers to reflect by themselves “In my dark heritage aloof from the world’s sight & the world’s sound”. “I groped along the shelf for bread & found celestial food instead”, celestial food is a metaphor for the bird and the message it’s giving. The next stanzas give rich, flowing imagery to the bird making it seem godly in nature and the a, b, ab, cc rhyme scheme aids in the same purpose.” The large eye, ringed with many a ray. How strongly used how subtly made.” This makes the bird esoteric; the audience understands that it carries a message from God, akin to the messenger of God: Gabriel. “The throbbing throat that made the cry” juxtaposes Gabriel’s horn to the throat of the stormcock, emphasized in the alliteration.
The readers are provided an answer as to why the Stormcock was chosen as ‘the messenger of hope’ in the sixth stanza. Archaic language “old hard times’ braggart,’ there you blow’. “Full fed in February” shows the perseverance of the bird in all weather and Ruth Pitter uses his resilient quality of the Stormcock and its ability to face the thorns of the Elder bush to obtain it’s berries on the inside, to imply the message; ‘look beyond the surface of life to find deeper meaning’. The transcendental hopeful theme is summarized in the last stanza.
“One-half the world, or so they say, knows not how half the world may live; so sing your song & go your way”, Pitter urges the audience to not get embroiled in the petty happenings of the world & simply focus on yourself and have hope, just as the stormcock & Gabriel do. “And still in February contrive as bright as Gabriel to smile.” The imagery of the broken roof I spied”. “On elder spray by broken tile” symbolizes the opening of a new thought process induced by the stormcock & further the auditory imagery of its melody strengthened by the rhyming adds a ‘holy’ significance to the poem.
The stormcock is described in golden hues akin to its symbol, Gabriel
“Merged into russet, marrying the bright breast to the pinions bright, Gold sequins, Like a brindled flower” further marrying their juxtaposition to bring out the transcendental theme.
When men were all asleep the snow came flying,
In large white flakes falling on the city brown,
Stealthily and perpetually settling and loosely lying,
Hushing the latest traffic of the drowsy town;
Deadening, muffling, stifling its murmurs failing;
Lazily and incessantly floating down and down:
Silently sifting and veiling road, roof and railing;
Hiding difference, making unevenness even,
Into angles and crevices softly drifting and sailing.
All night it fell, and when full inches seven
It lay in the depth of its uncompacted lightness,
The clouds blew off from a high and frosty heaven;
And all woke earlier for the unaccustomed brightness
Of the winter dawning, the strange unheavenly glare:
The eye marvelled—marvelled at the dazzling whiteness;
The ear hearkened to the stillness of the solemn air;
No sound of wheel rumbling nor of foot falling,
And the busy morning cries came thin and spare.
Then boys I heard, as they went to school, calling,
They gathered up the crystal manna to freeze
Their tongues with tasting, their hands with snowballing;
Or rioted in a drift, plunging up to the knees;
Or peering up from under the white-mossed wonder,
‘O look at the trees!’ they cried, ‘O look at the trees!’
With lessened load a few carts creak and blunder,
Following along the white deserted way,
A country company long dispersed asunder:
When now already the sun, in pale display
Standing by Paul’s high dome, spread forth below
His sparkling beams, and awoke the stir of the day.
For now doors open, and war is waged with the snow;
And trains of sombre men, past tale of number,
Tread long brown paths, as toward their toil they go:
But even for them awhile no cares encumber
Their minds diverted; the daily word is unspoken,
The daily thoughts of labour and sorrow slumber
At the sight of the beauty that greets them, for the charm they have broken.
Analysis: Robert Bridges gives the audience a transcendental experience; of the transformation of the bleak landscape of London into a dreamlike reality akin to that of heaven, by using snow as his vector and auditory & visual imagery to help him achieve this effect in his descriptive poem London Snow.
Bridges juxtaposes images to sounds and vice-versa for example “Hushing the latest traffic of the drowsy town” paints an image of nearly deserted streets, even though onomatopoeic diction is used ‘husting’, “deadening, muffling, stifling its murmurs failing.” Thus, soft auditory imagery helps the readers visualize the scene.
Adverbs & continuous tense along with the poem having only one stanza and a compact form and structure like that of the snow creates visual stimulation for the readers which adds to the sensory feast various types of imagery is already creating. The interlocking rhyme sibilance, repetition and alliteration also contributes to the sounds being produced in harmony with the visual of the structure.
This overload of the auditory and visual senses is key in sending the readers into a dreamlike state like the one created on the town which is transposed onto the characters too.
“Lazily & incessantly floating down and down: Silently sifting and veiling road, roof and railing.”
There is also an evident contrast between heaven and Earth, which is shown by comparing the falling snow to a gift from god enunciated in the biblical allusion of manna “they gathered up the crystal mana to freeze.” and in ‘Paul’s high dome’ to describe the sun.
London described as dull and dirty “in large white flakes falling on the city brown” becomes, unusually a heaven on Earth due to the snow from god. “The clouds blew off from a high and frosty heaven” which created on ‘unheavenly’ heaven “the strange unheavenly glare”.
This is created by the usage of oxymorons and polyptotons to starken the contrast of the before and after London, showing the audience proof of the impact and change snow has brought “Hiding difference, making unevenness even”. The joyous reaction of the people in the city adds to the euphoric mood created. Gustatory tactile and auditory imagery of the schoolboys also draws attention to their innocence and purity juxtaposed with that of the snow and contrasts the initial weariness of adults.
“Their tongues with tasting their hands with snowballing…’ O look at the trees! They cried”
“And trains of somber men…”
The opposing tones reconcile when the magical qualities of snow wash over the men too. “Their minds diverted. At the sight of the beauty that greets them”. The different experiences with snow allow the audience to experience the magical world Robert Bridges has created, holistically and wholly. The poet draws attention to the absence of sound too. “The ear hearkened to the stillness of the solemn air; No sound of wheel rumbling” which makes the scene otherworldly until it is deliberately punctuated by the innocent laughter of the boys. The unique usage of visual & auditory devices helps Robert Bridge transport readers to a dreamy world.
No, no, go not to Lethe, neither twist
Wolf's-bane, tight-rooted, for its poisonous wine;
Nor suffer thy pale forehead to be kiss'd
By nightshade, ruby grape of Proserpine;
Make not your rosary of yew-berries,
Nor let the beetle, nor the death-moth be
Your mournful Psyche, nor the downy owl
A partner in your sorrow's mysteries;
For shade to shade will come too drowsily,
And drown the wakeful anguish of the soul.
But when the melancholy fit shall fall
Sudden from heaven like a weeping cloud,
That fosters the droop-headed flowers all,
And hides the green hill in an April shroud;
Then glut thy sorrow on a morning rose,
Or on the rainbow of the salt sand-wave,
Or on the wealth of globed peonies;
Or if thy mistress some rich anger shows,
Emprison her soft hand, and let her rave,
And feed deep, deep upon her peerless eyes.
She dwells with Beauty—Beauty that must die;
And Joy, whose hand is ever at his lips
Bidding adieu; and aching Pleasure nigh,
Turning to poison while the bee-mouth sips:
Ay, in the very temple of Delight
Veil'd Melancholy has her sovran shrine,
Though seen of none save him whose strenuous tongue
Can burst Joy's grape against his palate fine;
His soul shalt taste the sadness of her might,
And be among her cloudy trophies hung.
Analysis: In this lyrical poem, one of six odes of its kind by John Keats; the revered poet harmonises two extreme emotions – pleasure and pain- by finding common ground through a mélange of literary devices.
Throughout the Horatian ode, the speaker advises the readers on how to approach melancholy in every stage. However, the poet specifies with language and diction that the feeling of melancholy; namely pain and grief will be inevitable. It is not a question of ‘if’, rather ‘when’. “But when the Melancholy fit shall fall”. The assignment of ‘time’ to intense emotions follows through to the opposite end of the emotional spectrum; which is joy. The poet explicitly states that the joy we search for in beauty will oft turn to melancholy when the beholder realizes that beauty – thus joy is temporary’.
This theme is depicted in the first line of the third stanza using caesura:
“She dwells with Beauty-Beauty that must die;” Notice how words that trigger strong responses in humans are capitalized ‘Beauty, Joy, Pleasure, Delight, Melancholy’. Yet the first two stanzas do not show this stylistic device. It is because in the last stanza these sentiments are personified as deities.
Keats personifies these basic feelings into a higher power to signify that their intensity is not in your control, however how you react to them is – herein the first and second stanza come into play; the speaker who seems to be emotionally attuned (almost as if he’s speaking for experience) warns the audience not to give into pain. “Ay in the very temple of delight, veiled Melancholy has her sovran shrine” and he further justifies it implicitly; ‘to experience joy, pain and grief must also be felt’.
Once again, the theme of paradox of joy and melancholy are united and strengthened; ‘the greater the pain, the greater the joy’.
Additionally, the poet has made it a point to personify the intense emotions explored in the poem as a ‘she’. This feminine adjustment to the language is done purposely- to strengthen the poet’s own experience (one could assume to be heartbreak), until Keats has successfully replicated his audience’s mood to mirror his tone. By using third person omniscient point of view, he has directed the audience to his personal emotional state.
The audience follows Keats to this emotional state of his and the third stanza is where the personification and anthropomorphism of the Goddesses become allegorical, because an unquantifiable feeling is put into a form. In conclusion, John Keats weaves the paradox of two opposing emotions into the theme, by creating an allegory using archaic diction, repetitions and allusions to Greek mythology; “Proserpine, Lethe”
White sky, over the hemlocks bowed with snow,
Saw you not at the beginning of evening the antlered buck and his doe
Standing in the apple-orchard? I saw them. I saw them suddenly go,
Tails up, with long leaps lovely and slow,
Over the stone-wall into the wood of hemlocks bowed with snow.
Now lies he here, his wild blood scalding the snow.
How strange a thing is death, bringing to his knees, bringing to his antlers
The buck in the snow.
How strange a thing,—a mile away by now, it may be,
Under the heavy hemlocks that as the moments pass
Shift their loads a little, letting fall a feather of snow—
Life, looking out attentive from the eyes of the doe.
Analysis: The Buck in the Snow, a lyrical poem by American poet Edna St Vincent Millay, portrays the loss of innocence, followed by literal and moral death. Millay achieves this by alluding to the Bible’s Adam and Eve; hence the buck and doe.
The aforementioned buck and doe are seen frolicking in the “apple-orchard” by the speaker who has already mentioned the natural purity and innocence of the world in the first line with imagery “White sky, over the hemlocks, bowled with snow”. The poet then proceeds to use an accusatory tone to address a higher power, in first person limited point of view. Several Biblical allusions connect the reference further, until the couple jumps “over the stone-wall into the wood of hemlocks bowed with snow”. Notice the repetition in the first and last line of the stanza, it stresses that the poisonous hemlocks are veiled in snow (purity) alluding to the fruit Eve picked for the forbidden tree resulting in Adam and Eve having to leave heaven “beginning of time”, “apple-orchard”, “over the stone-wall”.
The penultimate stanza is a single line in itself, depicting the loss of innocence leading to death both moral and literal. “Now he lies here his wild blood scolding the snow”. The moral death encompassing the ‘wild’ impure blood, staining the white pure snow. Then the literal death brought by the masked hemlocks- here the audience finals reason for the accusatory tone in the first stanza “saw you not at the beginning of evening the antlered buck and his doe”. “I saw them. I saw them suddenly go.” The readers reflect back on that line, creating an elegiacal mood. However, the tone changes once more in the last stanza of six lines, becoming pensive and contemplative. This serves the purpose of shifting the audience’s attention from sorrow over the buck’s death to the philosophical perspective of death leading them to ponder over the extended metaphor that Millay hoped to imbue as the aim of her poem; life goes on regardless of death.
To deliver the metaphor, Edna St Vincent Millay used several other literary devices such as anaphora with the first two lines of the last stanza “How strange a thing is death”. The first line summarising the theme of literal death, and the second line the explication of the themes; loss of innocence and moral death. Now the narrator moves on from the buck, to the doe, who has fled from her fallen buck “a mile away by now, it may be”. The doe seems to have learnt a lesson, which the poet again harps on by showing the snow (innocence) fall from the hemlocks, revealing their true nature- juxtaposing the loss of innocence from the doe to the “heavy hemlocks” (alliteration). Millay finishes on a resounding note “Life looking out attentive from eyes of the doe.” Again, many ‘L’ and ‘O’ sounds from the first stanza “Long leaps lovely and slow” contribute to the internal rhyme scheme. Signifying the turning of the wheel of life, be it at the sacrifice of loss of innocence and literal as well as moral death.
Huge vapours brood above the clifted shore,
Night on the ocean settles dark and mute,
Save where is heard the repercussive roar
Of drowsy billows on the rugged foot
Of rocks remote; or still more distant tone
Of seamen in the anchored bark that tell
The watch relieved; or one deep voice alone
Singing the hour, and bidding "Strike the bell!"
All is black shadow but the lucid line
Marked by the light surf on the level sand,
Or where afar the ship-lights faintly shine
Like wandering fairy fires, that oft on land
Misled the pilgrim--such the dubious ray
That wavering reason lends in life's long darkling way.
Analysis: In the Shakespearean sonnet by Charlotte Smith, ‘Written Near a Port on a Dark Evening’. The poet uses contrasting light/dark imagery to shed light on the meaning of her poem, which is to lighten and advise the audience to take the clear path of life instead of giving into short-lived temptations; the journey which makes life harder than it already is.
The first octet uses repressive language to create murky visual imagery, which gives reader’s the impression of being stifled and in a dreary mood. “Huge vapours brood above the clifted shore”. Combined with powerful deafening auditory imagery “Save where is heard the repercussive roar”. Makes the audience long for escape from the dark and encaging atmosphere Smith has created with dark visual and auditory imagery. This serves to make the “distant tone of seamen, in the anchored bark” seem appealing to reader’s, and after doing so, Smith explicates in the next sestet why it is against one’s best interest to fall for that appeal.
The audience fails to realize, just as many people do, (regarding the imagery created in the last three lines of the octet) that if they do strive to reach for the distant ship, upon reaching, this ‘time’ for the watch will be up-a metaphor for how their success will have to ebb to make way for another. “Singing the hour, and bidding “Strike the bell!”“ Creates melodious auditory imagery which is deceptive. The knoll of the bell symbolizes both your ‘time’ being up, as explained above and the death bell- of your own death, as it takes a long time to reach the ship from the shore (until which most of your life would have passed).
The poet further strengthens the imagery of the distant ship which the audience now knows are temporary temptations in the sestet “Or where afar the ship – lights faintly shine like wandering fairy fires” In the first line, “All is black shadow but the lucid line” Smith explicates her purpose of the sonnet by creating a clear demarkation of contrasting imagery; which is the clear line on the shore (which was previously threatening but now simple and comforting); this mood created by the visual imagery “Masked by the light surf or the level sand”, opens the reader’s eyes to the beauty in the simplicity of the “clifted shore” which they were blinded to before, as to create a parallel with real life wherein people purposefully create chaos from what they have as an excuse to chase what they don’t have, also ‘fairy fires’ “that off on level mislead the Pilgrim”.
It is obvious now to the audience that the poet addressing them as the ‘Pilgrim” trying to find their way in life which is already difficult – to take the clear path which is where they are – where dark meets light. The interlocking rhyme scheme further links the contrasting imagery and internal rhyme in the octet from the ominous ‘O’ sounds and alliteration “repercussive roar” oppose the sharp ‘L’ sound in the sestet “lends in Life, long darkling way” and along with enjambment these devices and imagery play to the effect that although life is hard and can oppress one at times, make it easier for yourself by pursuing the easier path which would give your life-long fulfillment.
Cetacean by Peter Reading is a simplistic descriptive poem, set on a vessel “some sixty-three feet”, near the Farallone Islands of the United States. Reading describes the scene is an objective reportage style with a handful of mathematical comparisons (like the one above).
The poet narrates the sighting of Blue Whales devoid of emotion and similarly uses figurative devices and imagery which is generally found in descriptive poems. However, he still manages to capture the grandeur of the whales with adjectives, parenthesis and constant reference to size; “(they were grey as slate with white mottling, dorsals tiny and stubby, with broad flat heads one quarter their overall body-lengths)”.
What sets this poem apart from others is its unique combination of poetry and clinical terminology to show a precise portrayal of the magnificence of the whales. The title itself testifies to this; ‘Cetacean’, being an infraorder of whales, porpoises etc. in classification. Yet it also sparks awe and curiosity in the readers as to what it is, thus successfully creating an inquisitive, eager mood even though the tone may be unembellished.
The poem is written in first-person limited, but the audience’s focus is limited to the scene because no emotional insight of the speaker is offered, making the reader seems like they too “observe blue whales”. However the running commentary style of writing allows the reader creative license in further picturing the blue whales coming up for a breath.
The few linguistic devices that are seen, such as similes “grey as slate………slim as upright columns” and alliteration “diminutive dorsals” and punctuation containing numerous commas and hyphens represent continuation, enhancing the objective tone.
To look at the inspiration behind this distinctive poem, one must simply look at Peter Reading’s profile. He started off as an artist, which allowed him to see the geometry of the scene, within the descriptions “slipping into the deep again at a shallow angle”. Cetacean is quite a literal read, and it is even more enjoyable once the language, style and diction used is appreciated.
The Kraken, by the acclaimed Poet Laureate of Great Britain, Alfred Lord Tennyson is an unusual Petrarchan sonnet, bringing to life an ancient myth of a fearsome sea monster haunting the Norwegian seas, with the help of various figurative devices.
‘Krake’ in Norwegian means ‘unhealthy’ and ‘twisted’. Tennyson addresses the creature appropriately so, using oxymorons such as “upper deep” and “sickly light”, to describe his dwelling whilst hyperboles “unnumbered and enormous polypi”, “His ancient, dreamless, uninvaded sleep”.
These exaggerations are often paired with visual imagery and personification respectively. “Huge sponges of millennial growth and height”, “The Kraken sleepeth: faintest sunlights fleeing about his shadowy sides: above him swell”. The colons in the above two lines are used for pithy emphasis. Collectively, these literary devices contribute in convincing the audience of the existence of the Kraken.
Having cemented the idea of a sea-monster in deep slumber in the readers, Lord Tennyson takes liberty of the changes as well as the questioning happening in the society of the 1900’s in reference to three aspects; historical, biblical and geological. The poet channels these elements into the legend of the Kraken, as recounted in ‘The History of Norway’ and ‘The Levitathon’ of the Bible. Scientific and geological discoveries like dinosaur fossils opposed the Bible’s testaments, pertaining to the age and creation of this Earth. However, Tennyson uses this influx to confirm his narration of the Millennial Kraken and further propels the story to a climax with the Volta in the eleventh line, as he proceeds to symbolize the awaking of The Kraken as a harbinger of the biblical dooms day, when all hell will unleash.
Needless to say, the end of the Kraken is thoroughly unsettling and an anti-climax. The fifteenth line of the poem where Tennyson welcomes the idea of apocalypse breaks the sonnet from to further achieve the purpose of a foreboding mood, heightening the sense of impending doom in the audience.
The Kraken, which in itself is an allusion, encapsulates the fear, awe and respect the people hold for it all in a few lines, demonstrating Alfred Lord Tennyson’s command of the language.
The Poplar Field, a romantic poem written by William Cowper, revolves around the theme of destruction of nature. The poem is a defense of nature conservation through the poet’s representation of a Poplar grove felled by man. He does this by contrasting the toll time has taken not only on the trees, which were eventually cut, but the short – lived life of humans and the shorter still, moments of joy in life.
Cowper’s Philosophical angle in the fourth and fifth stanza, cumulate to the question, why kill trees before their death? Similarly, one would not want death during the golden youth years. The emotional connection William established between the readers and trees further enhances the environmentalist theme.
The poet emphasizes on the transmutation of the Poplar trees that provided a retreat for humans along with animals who have been displaced. To furniture and ‘colonnades’ of sorts, which only offer a brief respite to man. The repetition of the long-term impediment of felling trees resounds throughout the poem, creating an impression on the readers of the folly of deforestation and encourages them to conserve nature.
William Cowper uses the images of himself in a grave, and the felled grove still unchanged. This helps readers envision the tedious amount of time it would take for the poplar trees to re-grow, contrary to the instant it took to cut down an ecosystem and the happiness of many along with it. This nudges the audience to recall the human infatuation with ‘dying content’ and the happiness the poet derived from the grove and nature. Allowing readers to realize the sometimes overlooked times nature amused them. The thought of dying unhappy without the simple pleasures of life (being nature), like the poet, brings awareness to the need of preservation of nature. The poet expresses this by stating that he’d be lying in his grave before the grave grows “with a turf on my breast and stone at my head, Ere another such grave shall arise in its stead."
In short, The Poplar Field outlines the suffering humans will face if they continue to harm nature. Making this poem a defense of nature conservation.
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In Journey by Patricia Grace we have the theme of change, powerlessness, frustration, responsibility and acceptance. Narrated in the third person by an unnamed narrator the reader realises after reading the story that Grace may be exploring the theme of change. The old man can remember travelling into the city by steam train. Also when he is on the train to the city he notices how much the landscape has changed. The difference that time has brought. This may be important as in many ways it acts as foreshadowing. The old man also wants to change the small piece of land that he owns and build some houses on it for his nephews and nieces. However it becomes clear to the reader that the old man is in reality powerless when it comes to the decision making on the changes that he wishes to make. While in the city talking about his land with the young man (Paul) it becomes clear to the reader that the city planners intend to make car parking spaces out of the old man’s land. Something that frustrates the old man even though he has been promised other housing. The old man’s frustration may be two fold. Firstly he is unhappy that the city planners will not build on his land for him and secondly his emotional attachment to the land gets the better of him. Something that is noticeable by the fact that the old man kicks and damages Paul’s desk.
At no stage of the story is the old man in control of the conversation he is having with Paul. The decision has been made on how the land will be allocated and the old man has to accept this. Something he finds difficulty in doing. Though time has progressed and the world around the old man has changed. The old man himself does not appear to be open to change nor is he open to the city planners reallocating land to him. This may be important as it suggests that the old man has difficulty letting go. There are some things he might be able to accept that need changing. However when it comes to anything which may affect his own life, like the housing problem, he is not comfortable with this. It is as though the old man is unable to adapt to the world around him. Something that is further noticeable by his refusal to use the lavatories in the city. His previous experience having been unpleasant.
It is also self-evident that the old man is under a lot of pressure from his nephews and nieces. Though they do not say anything to the old man. The sense is that they view it as being his responsibility to sort out the issue with the land. They themselves have tried and failed. Their only recourse is to let the old man go into the city to see if he can resolve the issue. Something which as mentioned he fails to do. What he might have thought would have been a simple issue turns out to be a bureaucratic headache for the old man. Others are in control of what will happen and not the old man. Which may be the point that Grace is attempting to make. She may be suggesting that no matter how simple or easy an individual’s desires may be. Bureaucracy will inevitable wear the individual down. Something that has happened the old man. He knows that his battle is lost and there is nothing that he can do about it.
It is also interesting that Grace mentions the old man’s garden as this is the only piece of land mentioned in the story that the old man has control over. Something he himself seems to realise. The fact that the old man looks at the palms of his hands while sitting on his bed could also be important. By looking at his hands he may again realise how physically and symbolically powerless he actually is. Earlier in the story he wanted to hit Paul with his hands but knew that he no longer had the power. The old man’s decision not be buried (or to go into the ground) may also be significant as the old man knows that he has no control over his resting place. His grave can be dug up and he can be moved. Something that the old man recalls happening to other graves while he was on his journey to the city. Overall the old man’s experience of change and bureaucracy has been unpleasant. He has not succeeded in his goal which suggests that he has become powerless to the changes that are and will occur around him. The only thing the old man can do is accept the position he finds himself in. Though this may take him some time. The old man has been beaten by both change and bureaucracy. The drive and determination he had prior to setting out to the city is no longer. If anything the old man is defeated.
Analysis: Patricia Grace, the first Maori woman to have published a novel, explores the themes of change and helplessness in her narrative short story ‘Journey’. Written in third person point of view, to objectify the bias of the main character’s stream of conscience. Patricia Grace uses the journey of an old, often unpleasant native New Zealander as an allegory for the change in the land. She uses this theme of change to create a change of helplessness by portraying the old man as resistant to change.; evident in his tone of frustration.
To place emphasis on the changing land and times, and why the old man is abhorrent to the change, Grace uses Maori diction e.g; ‘young fulla, Pekuha’ meaning young man & foreigners respectively. This language helps the audience understand that the man is closely connected to the land of his ancestor’s and when he is told by Paul that his land on which he plans to build a house for his nieces and nephews will be taken away and replaced with a land of equal value, he loses control of the situation as he realises that he is helpless, and cannot take action against it. Thus, you can see that the theme of helplessness & change always run parallel to each other, and this is brought out by the linear thought process which connects the two themes.
The author further takes advantage of the old man’s age and his rigid perspective, by making him repeat things of significance i.e. “but people need to build houses.” This repetition works for character building, it shows he is not in control of his thought and also serves in bringing important details of change in the land to the reader’s attention. Descriptive visual imagery brings these details to life and the scene of the landscape unfolding and changing as the man ponders in the train symbolizes the actual change of the land as it is industrialized. The old man’s anecdotes e.g.: about how he can no longer go fishing in his favourite spot because of boats and pollution evokes pathos (empathy) in the audience to the man’s predicament (as he is helpless), which sensitizes the readers to the change the character is experiencing.
The resolution is quite an anticlimax where the man “stared at his hands”. His open hands a gesture of frustration and symbolizes his helplessness to save his land, and he realizes the only thing he can control is his garden, which is very limited. The readers come to an understanding with the main character, the land is changing and he cannot adapt and is thus left behind, helpless.