Study Of Poetry Essay, Research Paper
An Essay Study of Poetry and
A Poet’s Ability to Forsee
The world is changing and evolving at an astounding rate. Within the last
one hundred years, the Western community has seen advances in technology
and medicine that has improved the lifestyles and longevity of almost
every individual. Within the last two hundred years, we have seen two
World Wars, and countless disputes over false borders created by
colonialists, slavery, and every horrid form of human suffering
imaginable! Human lifestyles and cultures are changing every minute. While
our grandparents and ancestors were growing-up, do you think that they
ever imagined the world we live in today? What is to come is almost
inconceivable to us now. In this world, the only thing we can be sure of
is that everything will change. With all of these transformations
happening, it is a wonder that a great poet may write words over one
hundred years ago, that are still relevant in today?s modern world. It is
also remarkable that their written words can tell us more about our
an they did about our past. Is it just an illusion that our world is
evolving, or do these great poets have the power to see into the future?
In this brief essay, I will investigate the immortal characteristics of
poetry written between 1794 and 1919. And, I will show that these
classical poems can actually hold more relevance today, than they did in
the year they were written. Along the way, we will pay close attention to
the style of the poetry, and the strength of words and symbols used to
intensify the poets? revelations. The World Is Too Much with Us, written
by William Wordsworth in 1807 is a warning to his generation, that they
are losing sight of what is truly important in this world: nature and God.
To some, they are one in the same. As if lacking appreciation for the
natural gifts of God is not sin enough, we add to it the insult of pride
for our rape of His land. Wordsworth makes this poetic message immortal
with his powerful and emotional words. Let us study his po!
werful style: The world is too much with us; late and soon, Getting and
spending, we lay waste our powers: Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon! (Lines 1 – 4) Materialism,
wasteful selfishness, prostitution! These are the images that these lines
bring to me! Yet, is it not more true today than in Wordsworth?s time,
that we are a culture of people who simply consume and waste? The third
line awakens me, and says that I have been raised with the mentality that
I am not a part of nature, and that I do not identify my needs with those
of nature?s needs. This mentality may have been quite true in 1807, but it
is surely more true in 1996. There is absolute disregard of nature in the
acts of well respected western corporations. Would someone who is in-touch
with nature orchestrate the ?slash and burn? of beautiful rain forests of
South America, or the life giving jungles of Africa and Asia? Would
someone who is in-touch with nature dump c!
hemical waste into waters that are home to billions of plants and animals?
These and other abominations have surely increased in the last 189 years
since this poem was written. What makes the sin even worse is the fact
that men who order this destruction are well respected people in our
culture. The winds that will be howling at all hours, And are up-gathered
now like sleeping flowers; For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not. ? Great God! (Lines 6 – 9) Wordsworth gives life to
nature in his words, and displays to us nature?s agony and pain, ?howling
at all hours.? But, we listen not! For we are out of tune, and much too
important to ourselves, that we may not listen to the wind, rain, land or
sea. I do not know which is the greater sin: the pillage of the earth?s
natural beauty, or man?s torturous inhumanity toward his fellow man.
London, written in 1794, by William Blake is a poem of civilization?s
decline ? and also the decline of compassion and humanit!
y. I wander thro? each charter?d street, Near where the charter?d Thames
does flow, And mark in every face I meet Marks of weakness, marks of woe.
(Lines 1 – 4) London, a city of millions, with very few who are wealthy
enough to own land. In a subtle way, Blake tells us that every inch of
London is owned ? the ?charter?d streets,? the ?charter?d Thames.? It is a
reflection of the immaturity of our culture that we allow just 5% of the
world?s population to control 80% of the world?s wealth , leaving most in
utter poverty. This is especially true today: the United States frequently
dumps excess farm and dairy produce to keep their market price high,
rather than share the excess food with the hungry people of the world.
During Blake?s time, the world was not in such excess as it is today. It
seems that in our culture, the more we have, the more we waste. How the
Chimney-Sweeper?s cry Every blackning Church appalls, And the hapless
Soldier?s sigh Runs in blood down Palace walls. (!
Lines 9 – 12) Every potent word of these four lines inject emotions of
grief, hopelessness, and death: the images of the child?s cry, the
blackning Church, and blood on Palace walls. The words force us to mourn
the decline of London?s society. The history of the child enslavement of
chimney sweepers, during Blake?s time, was a horrid inhumanity to
children. Great Britain and other western nations would like to praise
themselves for abolishing this sort of slavery. However, the inhumanity of
child enslavement is more true today than in the seventeen and eighteen
hundreds. The sin of enslavement is even more heightened, because
neocolonialism and multinational corporations have moved their inhumane
business practices to developing countries, where they may take advantage
of the desperation and poverty of those areas. In addition, the disturbing
images of slavery are hidden from westerners who respect the success of
multinational corporations. Yes, Blake?s poem is very relevant t!
oday. It is difficult to choose among William Butler Yeats most timeless
poems, because every one of them has immortal qualities. His poem, The
Second Coming, not only embraces eternal relevance and a deep
understanding of humanity?s history, but also the fruits of prophesy!
Turning and turning in the widening gyre The falcon cannot hear the
falconer; Things fall apart; the center cannot hold; Mere anarchy is
loosed upon the world? (Lines 1 – 4) With respect to the two major topics
discussed before (man?s inhumanity and disrespect for nature), this stanza
offers much insight into the progression of humanity. The state of decline
that was described in poems written over one hundred years ago described a
human cultural trend that is to continue on an intensifying cycle, like
the ?widening gyre.? Today, we are approaching a state of complete
detachment from our origin, our nature and our God: ?The falcon cannot
hear the falconer,? as insightfully described by Yeats. This stanza i!
s so very relevant to us, because it symbolically describes every aspect
of the progression of humanity! Yeats poetry transcends immortality, and
becomes prophetic! His ?widening gyre? symbolizes the climactic end, until
anarchy is upon us. Every word of his poem creates a deep fear of
humanity?s downward spiral. The relevance of poetry is undeniable. As
Percy Bysshe Shelley admits, ?A poem is the very image of life expressed
in its eternal truth.? It is an ?eternal truth? that can offer wisdom for
hundreds of years after the poem?s birth. A prophet or a mystic may
attempt to tell ones future; but, the poet approaches from a very
different angle. The poet becomes intimate with the nature of humanity,
and its timeless characteristics. In this way, the poet surrounds himself
in a divine sort of wisdom. Truly, poetry is immortal. To explore the
wisdom and symbolic message of poetry is an exciting journey for me. As a
child, I was never introduced to poetry, and certainly never wa!
s exposed to its importance. To study the deeper meaning of poetry has
been a challenge and an adventure. It has brought my mind to contemplate
things to which I have never attached a value, such as my personal
connection with nature. I agree with Shelley, that poetry ?awakens and
enlarges the mind itself by rendering it the receptacle of a thousand
unapprehended combinations of thought.?