Poetry Analysis Essay, Research Paper
The Whipping, by Robert Hayden
This poem is about Hayden who hears a boy being beaten, recalls his childhood when he too was subjected to the same and notices that this form of punishment has been handed down from generation to generation. He uses visual and auditory imagery together to take the reader to different moments in time, where the same event is being played over and is put in six quatrains to add emphasis. In the first quatrain, Hayden hears a woman shouting to the neighborhood her goodness and the boy s wrongs and Hayden knows that the boy across the way is getting beat again. This gives the image of a woman yelling so loudly that everyone in the complex can hear her tell the boy that she raised him better than his bad deed. In the second quatrain Hayden adds sound to the image when the boy wildly crashes through the elephant ears. Besides Hayden creating the picture of the child running in fear, the racket that is made when he hits the large leaves contributes to the impact of the scene. Another image that is given in this same quatrain is the description of the woman s crippling fat. In the third quatrain visual and sound are once again employed by Hayden. That woman strikes and strikes the shrilly circling boy is another vivid image with sound where one can hear and see this boy, now caught, screaming and running around the woman, who repeatedly hits him. At this point the author makes a transition to his own memory of having been whipped as a child and continues with the same type of visuals and sounds. And in the end Hayden
concludes in the present time with more visuals and audibles of the woman muttering against / a tree, exhausted, purged. This closing scene allows the reader to see and hear the woman worn out and mumbling about her past as a child, where she too was whipped for her ill doings.
Daystar, by Rita Dove
This poem is about a stay at home mother who uses nature and her imagination to escape reality. Dove creatively employs visual imagery to show the reader what is occurring and to give meaning to the poem. She starts with the woman craving some quiet time for herself in the middle of the afternoon, when there are plenty of tasks to be done around the house. Dove does not write this; instead she creates the image of chores as she saw diapers steaming on the line, / a doll slumped behind the door and the time of day as being to sit out the children s naps. The poem continues with the woman viewing nature in a floating maple leaf and becoming one with herself when she drops her eye lids and see[s] only her own vivid blood. Then Dove briefly gives an image of the evening sex ritual as Thomas rolled over and / lurched onto her and at this point the woman employs her imagination to escape her reality once again. Dove concludes the poem with more imagery and the woman employing her imagination to escape her reality once again.
The Whipping and Daystar are poems that visual imagery is very effectively used to tell a story. Both poems are also similar in that each is a slice of a person s life and ones own personal struggle. Hayden s poem is wrenching with such images of my
head gripped in bony vise / of knees to mark his memory of beatings. And the lady in Dove s poem wrestles with evading her life by building a palace in her mind.
The Fish, by Elizabeth Bishop
This poem is a detailed account of a fish caught and then released. In the details Bishop gives imagery to even the tiniest aspects of the fish. She also employs similes to strengthen the visual image. Using similes Bishop makes comparisons of the fish s skin. She writes of the brown surface that is like ancient wall-paper and with a design of shapes like full-blown roses / stained and lost through age. Here the reader can envision the color and pattern of fish s outer coating. One small detail that Bishop mentions about the fish is that it is speckled with barnacles, / fine rosettes of lime. This not only gives a graphic visual it also lets the reader know that this fish is older.
California Hills in August, by Dana Gioia
This poem is about a part of the California landscape that is sparse and in the beginning of fall season. Gioia uses both visual and auditory imagery to bring life into this work. Crackling the brittle weeds underfoot is one example of her use of the sound device. It gives the reader a hearing sense of how dry the area is. Gioia continues and details the afternoon as the bright stillness of the noon / without wind, without motion to reemphasis the bareness of the region. In closing she reflects about how gentle this may appear to one who has grown-up in the area.
Spring and All, by William Carlos Williams
In this poem the change of season is what Williams is focused on and he employs visual imagery to sketch the transition from winter to spring. He describes the bushes as reddish / purplish, forked, upstanding, twiggy stuff and the small trees as having dead brown leaves under them to give a vision of what winter has left behind. Williams then details the signs of spring as, first comes the grass and the next day there is the stiff curl of the wildcarrot leaf. He shows the reader the beginning stages of the progression of spring.
Nature and the visual imagery of it are the common element used in all three of the previous poems. Bishop describes a fish, Gioia draws out a region in California, and Williams details the onset of spring. Bishop contrasts Gioia and Williams in that she is focused on an animal and other two concentrate on a surrounding landscape.
My Life Had Stood A Loaded gun, by Emily Dickinson
Life from the perspective of a gun is the theme of this poem. Dickinson uses personification, closes with a paradoxical statement and formats the poem in six quatrains to add emphasis. The first quatrain is the gun waiting to be used. In the second and third quatrains is when Dickinson employs the personification technique. I speak for Him and the mountains respond with a straight reply give a human characteristic of speaking, when what actually has happened is the sound of a gunshot and it echoing back in the mountains. The second example adds simile: And I do smile, such cordial light and It is as a Vesuvian face. This implies that the gun does grin, though it is when the
gun is being fired, which last only momentarily and is a flash of bright amber light. Dickinson concludes with a paradox statement of the gun having a longer life span, or is it the man living longer, with his memory and afterlife, or the gun again, which can kill but can not experience death.