Poetry Essay, Research Paper
Question: Depending on the language used, poetry either delights the senses or fills one with despair . Discuss.
Poetry is an art form and different poets use varying descriptive language techniques to paint the images that they choose to present. The works of T.S. Eliot, Gwen Harwood and Robert Frost from the anthology “Limes to Time” is of no exception. Eliot portrays contrasting images and ideas in many of his poems often leaving the reader in complete despair, but at other times feeling a sense of delight. Robert Frost uses a wide range of writing styles to convey his images and ideas in Mending Wall and Birches, though most of Frosts poetry focuses on the negative aspects of the human experience. Gwen Harwood s poetry is unlike Eliot s as her poetry is not directly focused on the personal experiences in her life. Although a happy mother of four, Harwood chooses to focus on the exhausting and tormenting features of motherhood.
Mending Wall by Robert Frost explores the differences between two neighbours. It is a depressing poem highlighting the inability of humans to communicate and to embrace one another. Using symbolic language and images, Frost is able to convey his message that often, humanity is much more content to the idea of self-sufficiency rather than engaging in relationships. The use of language is sometimes quite strange: He is all pine and I am apple orchard . This unusual way of describing the products they produce emphasises the poet s view that men are defined not by who they are or of personal quality, but rather what they grow. By using these symbolic differences between the two men, Frost is stating that humans do not define themselves by who they are or what their personal qualities, but rather the amount in people own in their possession or status.
The poem is written from the perspective of one neighbour, describing the barriers that are constantly built and mended to ensure a distance remains the same between the two neighbors. The narrator says of his neighbour, he moves in darkness . This metaphor emphasises that his neighbours thoughts and ideas are primitive, thus Frost implies that people are isolating themselves from others.
Frost also concentrates on repetition as he continually reinforces his idea of the fence being the symbolic barrier between the two men, but the grower of pines merely intones Good fences make good neighbours . Through his language, Frost is able to present his thoughts and ideas that humans are often unable to embrace each other because their own human nature is incapable of change.
My apple trees will never get across
and eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, Good fences makes good neighbours
Birches is significantly different as the language used by Frost describes a man in reflection. Frost uses extremely simple language to describe how a man wants to return to the innocence of childhood. The speaker desires the simplicity of life where he can become the conqueror of his own world, the conqueror who climbed hundreds of birch trees:
And not one but hung limp, not one was left
For him to conqueror.
However as he becomes a man and life becomes more complicated, Frost enforces the despairing view on life as he persist with the idea of how life itself strangles all the fantasy and pleasure out of the conqueror. Individual worlds are crushed as humans are eventually forced to meet reality, forced to realize that they are not thew conqueror of their worlds. The lack of direction makes this older person regret the loss of his innocence, the time when the world was less complex. As the final line, Frost combines the older and younger versions of the narrator in the delicately structured line: One could do worse than a swinger of birches .
Hollow Men by T.S. Eliot is a depressing poem that examines the effect war had on both the individual and the whole of society. Eliot makes reference to the hollow men who whisper together quiet and meaningless. Essentially, Eliot is implying that what humans are comprised of, what they are meant to be, is worthless. For this reason, this poem is similar to Mending Wall although in this poem, Eliot is much more blunt in his assessment of humanity. He denounces an entire generation of human beings in the space of just one poem, whereas Frost used two neighbours in his poem. Eliot describes his generation and the generation affected by war as the human race that is shaped without form, shaded without colour gesture without motion . This poem developed after the First World War is a pragmatic insight into Eliot s view of humanity.
Gwen Harwood is also able to express the burdens of motherhood and the senses of domination and possession children have on a mother s life is captured through Suburban Sonnet. The experience of loss of identity is captured She practices a fugue, though it can matter to on one now if she can play well or not . Similarly to In the Park the mother is fully aware of her situation before her as she scours the crusted milk from the daily chores that have oppressed her former identity.
The image of the dead mouse and the sprung mouse trap , represents her own feelings of entrapment and the death of her social life. Just as the mouse had been lured and caught in domestic life, so to is the speaker of the poem. The death of her expression of music it can matter to no one now if she plays well or not and her former sense of identity highlights her lack of awareness and distance from her situation and surroundings.
In the Park also focuses on the difficulties associated with motherhood. Harwood introduces an additional character into this poem to establish her perception of motherhood. As the speakers former lover looks at her, sitting on the bench, a tired pale looking lady, an overwhelming though comes into her former lover s mind:
From his neat head unquestionably arise
A small balloon but for the grace of God
Because this phrase is well known by the readers, Harwood does not need to complete it as it leaves a dramatic impact on both the reader and the mother. The speakers negative outlook on the impact of her decisions to be a mother and a wife leaves no doubt about her sense of regret. This poem also emphasizes the absolute sacrifice that so many women have to make when they have children.
Gwen Harwood, Robert Frost and T.S. Eliot all present their own ideas and thoughts through the language used in their poems. They occasionally fill the reader with delight, but in most cases, complete despair. No matter which feeling they leave the reader with, they all make the reader view the world in a slightly different way.