Poems Analysis: "One Art", "Kaleidoscope", "Do not Go Gently into That Good Night" and "A Day On Represent"
The presence of death in human life concern all the nations and all the countries of the world. The existence of rituals, customs, beliefs, and ceremonies of death proves global fear and respect to the death act. The majority of poets fail to perceive death as a regular event that would inevitably come to the life of every individual. Poems accordingly conveyed the necessity of either fighting back or the necessity of deaths acceptance. The observed four poems: One Art, Kaleidoscope, Do not Go Gently into That Good Night, and A Day On represent both corresponding and contrasting depictions of death. The content of the poems proves the difference of death perception deriving from the culture, individual features of the author, the ability of consolation, and the usage of symbolism. The comparative analysis revealed only one poems descriptive means that oppose the act of death the one by Dylan Thomas. The other three expressed the modest complying with death and the necessity of its overcoming, providing a different emotion scale from grief to humbleness.
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The contrasting poems were selected to trace the versatility of death depiction through the difference in cultures (Beirut and the US), gender (Elizabeth Bishop and Douglass Dunn), tone and style (Dunn and Thomas), rhyming (A Day On vs. Do not Go Gently...), etc. The selected criteria would be observed through the poems full analysis including death representation and attitude to it.
One Art (1975) is one of the best poems by Elizabeth Bishop. The general message of the poem is that a human being tends to lose things in his/her life. However, he/she frequently fails to be ready for the loss of the loved one.
The tone of the poem is pedantic, aiming at controlling strong emotions and the teacher-like narrative on the loss probability. The rhyming is traced through circularity and refrains. The rhyme scheme is ABA, except for the last line that creates an impression of conclusion. The poem is divided into six stanzas that reveal similar rhyming of the symbolic words isnt hard to master a disaster (Schwartz and Estess 30). The word choice is intentionally reserved when the lexicon can be observed from neutral to emotional when the neutral line ends with emphatic disaster. The author appeals to her personal experience for credibility (ethos) and uses the examples of the term losing to convey its regularity (logos).
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Bishop shares a metaphoric understanding of loss to describe its natural way and mutability with an individual. She appeals to the distanced word art that sets death apart from an individual as something aesthetic and that might be improved with the practice. So many things seem filled with the intent / to be lost Bishop encourages to adopt and indifference to the inevitable fact. However, emotionality of gender perception reveals the actual intent of the poem to distance death from the author herself. In order not to give way to grief and tears, the author invokes to the emotional neutrality and personally sets the distance between her loss and its inevitability. Bishop accepts death as the regular act in human life though still fails to keep reserved through isnt hard to master a disaster repeated rhyming.
Kaleidoscope (1942) by Douglass Dunn shows a different approach in the similar mood. The poem conveys the daily routine of the husband who brings food to his terminally ill wife. One day she dies, though he continues repeated rise upstairs in the hope of still finding her there.
The poem form is a sonnet with Shakespearean rhyming. It is limbic pentameter with three quatrains and one couplet. The word choice is emotional, metaphoric, and symbolic that gives ground to numerous interpretations of the authors psychological state. From the syntax viewpoint, the usage of epistemic modality aims at non-compliance with the death of the loved one and the hope expression that he might see his wife again (Jeffries and McIntyre 80).
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The usage of symmetry refers to the kaleidoscopic images change in the symmetrical ways that extends not only to the poems symbolism but to the art form as well. The repetition of tray-carrying upstairs is used with an intention of hiding grief under the routine action that consoles the authors feelings and brings the illusion of his wifes presence in the house (ethos). The pathos of the poem in the depiction of the authors sorrow is revealed through the line My hands become a tray Offering me, my flesh, my soul, my skin. The tone of the poem is desperate. It is written in the active voice that fully involves the reader into Dunns daily life. The connotations of the second quatrain convey the regular activities of the authors wife until it becomes a different kaleidoscope the preparation and acceptance of her death.
The absurd forgiveness shows the authors inability to protect a loved one from death and his inability to get rid of the guilt. The author observes his life as an extension of kaleidoscopic daily actions to ease the life of his wife and make her feel better. However, he loses her and cannot find peace with himself.
Do not Go Gently into That Good Night (1945) by Dylan Thomas has recently gained mainstream popularity with the Nolans masterpiece Interstellar. It is devoted to the authors father and written in the year of his death 1945. The poem invokes not to give up the fight and rage against the death approaching (Moliken 268). The poem is the most rebellious of all four and provides one of the strongest motivational moods in poetry.
The tone of the poem is elevated and metaphoric. Its music texture is interrelated with its form called villanelle. The rhyming is circular that creates an expression of dancing. It contains five tercets ABA and the last quatrain rhyming ABAA. The lines of the first tercet are recurring to emphasize the emotional impact. In the first tercet, the first line repeats itself in the second and the fourth one while the third line is repeated at the last line of the third and the fifth one. The word choice reminds of the ode and shows highly symbolic and metaphoric meaning.
The term of light serves a symbol for life, while that good night is apparently death. The repeating line endings of light and night stresses the significance and the heroic pathos of the poem. Rage, rage against the dying of the light the repeated verses appeal to the dying elderly man who should never give up on the getting better. The poem consists of the shifting of the repetitive symmetry and the repetitive melody with the refrain at the end of the stanza. The poems logos consists of the persuasive examples of other people of the Thomas father age, who struggled against death despite the realizing of its approaching.
The poem is bright and motivational. The depiction of death is similar to Dunns and Bishops though the mood of the poem is crucially different. While Dunn seeks consolation and Bishop aspires to distance herself from the act of dying, Thomas invokes to the opposition. His verse is literally burning with an inspirational and rebellious message that an individual should never step away. Thomas calls for raging against the ending of life, as an experienced and wise person as his father should be persuaded to preserve himself. While death is represented as the dying of the light, Thomas encourages the reader never stop on the way of life-preservation even when it can be over owing to the natural causes. Accordingly, Thomas poem reveal the strongest opposition to death that can never be perceived as Bishops daily necessary evil or Dunns kaleidoscopic circle of regret.
A Day On (2010) by Omar Sabbagh conveys the authors grief on his uncles death (Tarbush). The meditation on its nature and inevitability is represented through rich comparisons to a catastrophe, and limit-language of agony. The primary message addresses death as having no mercy and no possibility to be averted.
The poem comprises six stanzas with free verse rhyming. The choice of words is elevated and contains numerous comparisons and metaphors. Death is referred to as a church of pain, a catastrophe, and a limit-language of agony.
Emotions, following the death of the relative, are compared to the long-wrought wreckage. Death is represented in cursive, dance, grim ballet, a slyly awful game with chance, etc. A poems tone is highly emotional and musical that reveal a wave of thoughts that emerge in the authors head as a result of the sorrowful event. The poem contains pathos in the form of the human soul comparison to a wreckage that deep the grooves, the shallow rills of the mind moved.
The death is highly personified and compared to the merciless dark power that might perform a ballet. or draw the line of human life with a cursive. The authors disposition to death is described in the bright speaking word choice and colored vocabulary that escalates the emotional impact. The death is described as something without remission that cannot be escaped or fought. At the same time, the author accepts death, skillfully conveying the emotions of Dunn and descriptive distance of Bishop. The poem does not invoke to fighting back unlike Thomas though it still provides a powerful impression on the reader.
All the four analyzed poems observe the topics of life and death and their impact on the individual. At the same time, they both share and are divided into the different perspectives and variety of approaches towards death from the acceptance to the rebellious fightback.
Firstly, Bishop, Dunn, Sabbagh, and Thomas observed death as the inevitable sorrow and tragedy that might touch anyone. They discuss that no matter how prepared you might be to perceive the fact, the death leaves scars on the human soul.
Secondly, the authors observe death from personal experience and narrate on the autobiographical facing of the tragedy. They use metaphoric and symbolic language to compare death to the various aspects of human life. They reveal various states of psychological response to the tragedy from the consolation and humility to the emotional outburst and the invocation to fighting.
At the same time, the treatment of death is different. The emotional scale of the poems can be evaluated in the following way: Bishop Dunn Thomas Sabbagh. However, where A Day On can reveal the high level of emotionality, Do not Go Gentle... serves a motivational message in deaths opposition. Bishop, in her turn, aims at perceiving death as a part of human life that cannot be avoided as individual loses numerous things during his/hers lifetime. Dunn, accordingly, aims at distancing from death, performing the daily routine of the patient attendance though his wife already passed away. To conclude, the only poem opposing death is Thomas while the three others offered another emotional spectre from the passionate outbursts to the modest acceptance.