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Friday, May 18, 2012

Critical Assignment

For my final paper, I want to look at the different elements of pain that certain poets convey in their work. The poems I want to look at are, "One Art" by Elizabeth Bishop, "Arbor for Butch" by Terrence Hayes, "W" by Denise Duhamel, and "Sick" by Shel Silverstein. In these four poems, the speakers experience some sort of pain. In "One Art," the speaker seems to be missing her significant other. She hasn't gotten over this person, yet she tries to deny this throughout the poem. This is the pain that people feel when they miss someone. In "Arbor for Butch," the poem deals with pain of the unknown and the pain he went through with his parents, especially with the photograph that is duscussed in the poem. The speaker wants to know what happened to the two happy people he saw in that photograph. He didn't know his dad well and the poem mentions that his mom was raped, so he wonders how they lived through that pain. "W" deals with physical pain. The speaker's mother had her hair ripped out in a horrible accident and is dealing with it. There are vivid descriptions in the poem concerning what the speaker sees when she looks at her mother. This type of language in the poem ties in perfectly with W.H. Auden's essay, "Poetry as Memorable Speech." Lines such as, "I face the swelling, the blue and pickled bulges," and "Her head a labyrinth of pus and scabs" provokes emotion in the readers. They won't seem to forget those lines, making them memorable. Like Auden says, "Memorable speech must move our emotions, or excite our intellect, for only that which is moving or exciting is memorable." I also want to use the poem, "Sick" by Shel Silverstein. Though the speaker at the end jumps out of bed and is miraculously "cured," The poem does go to great lengths to mention all of the symptoms the child has and the horribleness of being ill. Since a child is the speaker of the poem, he is more vulnerable to being sick and it's more painful to him, because he's miserable and can't go out and play.

1 comment:

  1. Rachel,

    This is a good start. I think it's smart to look at four poems that are linked by topic. I'll want you to focus so so specifically on the differences in tone, technique, and imagery, though, and to think about what makes these poems poems and not pieces of fiction.

    Is it difficult to write artistically about pain? Or is poetry, is heightened language, the natural way to discuss our own suffering?

    In what ways do these writers fully embrace their own pain and the pain of their characters and in what ways do they deny that pain, or avoid it, or crack jokes about it, or try to suggest that its been relieved.

    I look forward to your continued work on this.