Analysis of “Crossing the Bar” by Alfred Lord Tennyson
Alfred Lord Tennyson wrote “Crossing the Bar” three years before his death when he was 71 years old. The timing of the writing is perfectly appropriate for the subject and title of the poem: death and crossing over. The speaker of the poem, the author, writes about a peaceful passing on to heaven by symbolizing it with a voyage on a ship. These images of nighttime one-way journey in the “boundless deep” dominate, and make the reader feel a quiet sadness for the writer; however, the reader knows Tennyson also has a sense of fulfillment and is at peace with his death, considering his age and the mellow tone he writes in. The writer does not want there to be any “sadness of farewell,” ensuring the reader that he knows his time has come and he wants his loved ones to accept his passing. Since Tennyson was a religious man, mixed in with the feelings of acceptance and readiness is anticipation of being able “to see my Pilot face to face,” meaning Christ. These kinds of symbols that Tennyson uses are quite straightforward and obvious.
The rhyme scheme in this poem is ABAB and there are four stanzas with four lines each. This shows that the author put time into carefully planning the poem and did not write it in a frantic fashion. This adds to the meaning of the poem by demonstrating Tennyson’s preparation for leaving to go into the afterlife. One can also see in the external structure of the poem an undulating of waves, which gives more emphasis to the sea motif.
The intended audience for the poem is essentially the writer, as he assures and readies himself for his passage into the heaven. Within the poem, irony exists because even though he is dying, he is going on to live in another place. While there is “sadness of farewell,” he also “turns again home.” This is a sensible contradiction that abides with the Christian faith because even all people say goodbye to their human bodies and lives on earth, the soul lives on in heaven. This journey and apparent contradiction make up the theme for the poem: a man dies, and yet continues to live on.
Analysis of “Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening” by Robert Frost
This poem is about a person, assumed to be a man, traveling through the woods during the winter. This man, however, does not belong in these woods. This is made clear by the title and the last three lines of the poem in which he forces himself to leave. These setting for the poem is completely isolated and lifeless because there is no “farmhouse near” and “the only other sound’s the sweep / of easy wind and downy flake.” Furthermore, usually, when one writes about nature, it has to do with the universal symbolism involving fertility and growth. In this poem, however, even though it takes place in a forest, there is absolutely no life in nature and no human life. The meaning for this utter isolation, loneliness, desolation, and not belonging lets the reader know that the author, or at least the man in the poem, is probably feeling the same way.
Frost uses nature imagery to make the reader feel what the speaker is feeling. With lines like “woods and frozen lake” and “easy wind and downy flake,” the reader can really picture the speaker in the woods in complete isolation. In the poem, however, the reader is unsure if the speaker likes the isolation or not. The author shows this dilemma at the beginning of the poem, when the speaker goes to a person’s forest to “watch his woods fill up with snow,” but at the end, he forces himself to leave due to the “promises” he has to keep.
The rhyme scheme of the poem is AABABBCBCC…etc. The never-ending rhyme scheme gives more meaning to the seemingly endless journey that the speaker is on. The diction in the poem also flows easily with its lack of harsh consonants and sounds.
The theme of the poem is basically about the appreciation of temporary isolation from people in nature.
Analysis of “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost
“The Road Not Taken” is told in the first-person through the eyes of a traveler, presumed to be a man, who has to make a decision as to which path he should travel on. He seems very unsure about which of the two he should pick, and throughout the poem he tries to decipher the differences between the two paths; however, at the same time, whether knowingly or unknowingly, he is also saying how similar they actually are. For example, when he looked down the path he did not take, he looked to “where it bent in the undergrowth.” The path he did take was “grassy and wanted wear.” These two different images are really portraying the same picture, one negatively and one positively. The traveler also says later in the poem that “the passing there/ Had really worn them about the same” and also “both that morning equally lay.” Even though he chooses one path and sticks with it, he keeps saying how similar the two are even after he starts to travel down one of them. This predicament leads to the strangeness of the title: “The Road Not Taken.” It seems as if during the course of the poem, the traveler is speaking about the road he does take. The title serves the purpose of further intriguing the reader as to whether or not there are even two paths, since they are so similar.
The symbolic function of Frost’s use of nature imagery is to further emphasize the importance of the decision the traveler has to make. By being in nature, the author emphasizes the isolation of the traveler as he makes the decision.
The poem is in ABAAB form and has four stanzas with five lines each and nine syllables in each line. This strict, unwavering form shows that the writer has carefully thought out the poem, just like the traveler is carefully thinking out his decision between the two paths. Also, the external structure of the poem is very straight and steadfast, just like a path.
Analysis of “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night” by Dylan Thomas
This poem is about a man, presumed to be the author himself, who is pleading his father to not give up on life so easily and quickly. Dylan Thomas in actuality went through the ordeal of having to watch as his own father, once a proud and powerful military man, slowly die, as is the case in the poem.
In the beginning of the poem, the narrator uses a gentle tone towards his father; however, the tone gradually gets more tense and persistent as the poem wears on. The narrator speaks of how wise men, good men, wild men, and grave men die and how they “rage against the dying of the light” and “do not go gentle into that good night.” After telling him of how other men deal with death, he pleads to his father to also fight to live and to not give up so easily. Thomas uses strong death imagery, like the “dying of the light,” deliver a direct message to his father in a more meaningful and spiritual way. Other imagery present in the poem is night imagery, such as “close of day” and “sun in flight.” This imagery is used to emphasize the death imagery present in the poem.
The poem has ABA rhyme scheme with the exception of the addition of the last line of the poem. There are nineteen lines in the poem and it is classified as a villanelle. Usually villanelles share a cheerful mood with the reader; ironically, this poem has a very melancholy tone, as is evident with the subject of death prevalent throughout the poem. Another contradiction present in the poem is Thomas’s use of such oxymorons as “blinding light” and “fierce tears.” The use of this literary device accentuates the internal conflict present within the writer. The overall theme evident in the poem is to never let anyone give up on life, no matter who it is or what the person has been through in life.
Analysis of “Richard Cory” By Edwin Arlington Robinson
“Richard Cory” is a simply-worded poem about a man bearing the name of the poem. Cory is a very wealthy man, one whom the peasants describe as kingly, who, despite seemingly infinite riches, commits suicide. A peasant or peasants narrate of the poem, which explains the use of plain language and simplistic ABAB rhyme scheme. The identity of the narrator is apparent by the use of “we” when talking about working and going “without meat.”
In the poem, images of the superiority of Cory and his imperialism dominate. Cory is described as “imperially slim,” “richer than a king,” and “admirably schooled.” This regal description contributes to the confusion and irony of his suicide. The poverty imagery of the peasants highlights the stark difference between Cory and the lower class. The narrator relays that the commoners have to walk on the pavement as they look at Richard Cory. The commoners also had to work endlessly and “waited for the light,” emphasizing their state of desperation. The fundamental question of the poem is why would the man who has everything feel the need to end his life? Cory made the peasants “wish that we were in his place,” and yet he still shockingly committed suicide.
Another reason why Cory’s suicide was so shocking was that the tone earlier in the poem was misleading. With the simple ABAB rhyme scheme and upbeat tone, the last line of the poem is shocking in its bluntness. The conclusion of the poem leaves the reader to wonder what could go wrong in a life that seemed so fantastic. One possible reason could be a possible loneliness. A clue to support this is the use of “we” in the narration referring to the townsfolk and Richard Cory, alone. The mystery of Richard Cory’s suicide is one that the reader can only try to imagine solving.
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