Carol Ann Duffy is a Scottish poet and playwright. She is Professor of Contemporary Poetry at the Manchester Metropolitan University, and was appointed Britain’s poet laureate in May 2009. She is the first woman, the first Scot, and the first openly bisexual person to hold the position, as well as the first laureate to be chosen in the 21st century. Her poems address issues such as oppression, gender, and violence, in an accessible language.. “I like to use simple words, but in a complicated way,” she said. (Wikpedia)
The poem is the concluding poem in her collection The Other Country. The poetess at the start refers to “the other country”. As she belongs to Scotland, the country in question may be England. The poetess asks herself: ”The other country, is it anticipated or half-remembered?” Here she mingles past memories (half-remembered) with future-vision (anticipated).The language of the so-called other country is muffled by the rain. The poetess seems to imply that communication and expression was muffled naturally in the country. There was no instinctiveness of voice.The poetess has difficulty comprehending this language as she is creature of intuitive emotions. The rain falls all afternoon one autumn in England. It implies a kind of gloom descending on the autumn-afternoon , that is already short of sunshine.…
A War photographer has the most demanding profession. A job that he has to perform in spite of himself. A profession where subjectivity, emotion and revulsion have to be side-lined. He does not have the time to even contemplate on his action, ruminate over the ethics of of photographing. It is a job in which the earliest bird gets the worm.
The first stanza illustrates how the dark room offers the photographer the space to analyze his photographs objectively as well as subjectively. The different pictures spool out into an ordered sequence as though reechoing their silence, and their heart rending agonies. The setting of the gruesome sequences are relived. Their logical categorization is juxtaposed against the abruptness of the corresponding situation, and the illogicality of the reason for the war. The room is gloomy and filled with an eerie red light at once symbolic of spilled blood. The red glow at once reminds us of The Sanctuary Lamp that is symbolic of Gods eternal presence, and is therefore never extinguished. The photographer and his actions within the dark room are likened to a priest and his preparations to intone a mass. This seems like a deliberate attempt on part of the poet to juxtapose the sanctity of the latter, against the unholiness and worldliness of the former.…
The tone of the poetess is assertive. The title “Before You Were Mine” gives the impression that the daughter arrived before the mother. In order to be chronologically coherent, the poet should have phrased the title as “Before I was Yours”. The word “mine” sounds the possessiveness of the speaker. The speaker asserts how prior to her birth, her mother had her own private life as echoed by “from the corner you laugh on”: the girlish frivolousness that endowed her with the freedom to giggle at the slightest things. Her carefree life is seen as engaged in tête-à-tête with her friends Maggie McGeeney and Jean Duff.
The three of you bend from the waist, holding
each other, or your knees, and shriek at the pavement.
Your polka-dot dress blows round your legs. Marilyn.
The assertion of female sexuality as representative of individual freedom is apparent here. The image of Marilyn with her skirt blown up by an air vent depicts the celebrated scene of Marilyn Monroe in the film “The Seven Year Itch.”Marilyn Monroe has forever been the pervading symbol of sexuality and femininity. Critics also point out that the girl may be viewing a photograph here where her mother and friends are at a corner in Glasgow Street.…
Graham Greene’s “The Power and the Glory” is based upon “less than two months spent in Mexico in March and April of 1938,incuding five weeks of grueling, solitary travel in the southern provinces of Tabasco and Chiapas.” John Updike asserts “There is something about the Roman Catholicism which infuses with it Manichaean darkness and tortured literalism .”
There is the conflict between idealism and practicality as echoed here as by the lieutenant and the Priest who are diametric opposites. The Lieutenant aims at an ideal republic devoid of all corrupt institutions such as religion, and does not bother about the means as long as the end is reached. His totalitarian regime practises his own version of socialism to breed a better future for the generations to come in terms of equality and tolerance in the state. Though, his version of idealism remains an unrealizable paradigm. Paradoxically, in his coercive stance, life becomes meaningless as echoed in his act of crushing an insect ruthlessly as he did with human life. The Lieutenant reminds one of The Wisest Fool or Tughlaq in Girish Karnad’s play Tughlaq who adopted impractical means such as the shifting of the capital from Delhi to Daulatabad to achieve his goal, and implements ruthless measures to attain his ultimate vision.…
Dylan Thomas’s “A Refusal to Mourn” was first published in “The New Republic” in 1945. It was published soon after the end of the Second World War. The poem is an emphatic refusal to mourn the dead. Here, the dead being represented by the child. The loss of a child is the greatest tragedy; and symbolic of life lost without having blossomed. Thomas simply refuses to mourn for it would relegate the child itself to the action of mourning. This refusal to mourn is rather a celebration of every innocent life lost.
The poet points to the ambiguous nature of death as it marks the destruction of life, but paves way for newer life. Bird, beast and flower alike are common and universal to this truth. Death fathers all-it has a towering, commanding and dominating effect over all. It is a kind of all-consuming darkness, that has a humbling-effect, for, in the face of death all are equal. All distinctions of high/low, rich/poor are erased in the face of it, humbling the person with the highest earthly paradigm of virtue. The phrase ‘bird beast and flowers’ may also denote the return to the nature or the basic elements of life-a universal phenomenon that marks the end of earthly individuality.…
The poem Do not go gentle into that good night, is structured as a villanelle. It is an exhortation to die gracefully, but not without giving a good fight to Death, the inevitable. The phrase “Good night” acts both as a metaphor and a pun. Dylan Thomas being a Surrealist employs a number of images.
The poet entreats with one not to give in easily (gentle) to Death. The night is a metaphor for death, as it connotes darkness, mystery and a sense of closing. Old age should not meekly submit to the ravages of Death, but should fire and fume at the dying of the light. The ‘dying of the light’ signifies death and denotes the last time a person closes his eyes. Wise men do comprehend that dark is ‘right’ ;or rather that the dark is the ultimate truth. All the knowledge they profess to possess, cannot combat death: it ’forked no lightening’ with regards to death. Their profound knowledge has not equipped them with the means to foresee death .Yet, they do not subjugate themselves to the idea of death. Good men are remorseful towards the close of their life as they recall their frail deeds which would have otherwise ‘danced in a green bay.’ The benefits of sowing good deeds would have reaped rich benefits.…
The poet looks back in retrospection at his childhood in the poem “Fern-Hill”. ”Fern-Hill” was the farm of Thomas’ aunt Ann Jones. The poet recalls this place as he used to spend his holidays here, away from his native Swansea.
The poet gives a picturesque description of the idyllic farm. At a time, when he was happy and carefree under the apple boughs. He is overcome with joy and it appears that the house is lilting or singing. The grass was green, green being a symbol of prosperity and freshness. The night above the wooded valley was starry. Time is personified here. The poet asserts that Time welcomed him to the heydays of his eyes, helped him climb/progress in its vision. And he was prince of the apple towns. His experience is a regal one;the noun ’prince’ also signifies that he also owned all of this property as their legitimate inheritor. The phrase “once below a time” exemplifies his typical distortion of syntax for poetic effect. The phrase also points to a fairy-tale existence.
And once below a time I lordly had the trees and leaves
Trail with daisies and barley
Down the rivers of the windfall light.
His relation with the barn is so intricate that he is “famous among the barns.” The farmyard is referred to as “happy yard.” It is the child that is really happy here.…
The prescribed poem was included in Dylan Thomas’ collection namely 18 Poems.(1934)It represents the basic elemental force of Nature that embodies the meanest form of life and yet holds the intriguing power to sustain it. This elemental force is similar to the Shelley’s West Wind in it being both preserver and destroyer. This paradoxical nature of the force that permeates Nature is its hallmark. ”Green’ is at once the symbol of fertility and prosperity. The 22 lines are divided into four stanzas of five lines, rounded off with a coda at the end.
The energy “drives the flower”: it enables the blossoming and fruition of nature. The word ‘fuse’ connotes explosive or exponential growth that this force is capable of. And more significantly, it drives his green age; it renders him evergreen not only biologically but also in terms of spirit.
There is use of hyperbatic(inverted) word order to underline the revolutionary zeal of the force and its enforcing quality. The rose is a pervading symbol of the brevity of life as echoed in the poems with the ‘carpe diem’ motif. The poet is at a loss for words to tell the ‘crooked rose’ ravaged by the onset of this inexplicable phenomenon,that he too has been bent by the ‘wintry fever’.…
Dylan Thomas’ “The Hunchback in the Park” represents the relegation of the individual in a society that prefers the normal over the abnormal. The dialectical pair in accordance with hierarchy in such a stance would be normal/abnormal. The park represents a place of social communion. The hunchback appears to be isolated even in such a social setting: “a solitary mister”. He appears to be propped up between the ‘trees and water’; that is, he appears to be foregrounded in nature owing to his isolation. His reference of time is indicated by the bell at dark. His is a stagnant , sterile existence.
The hunchback in the park
A solitary mister
Propped between trees and water
From the opening of the garden lock
That lets the trees and water enter
Until the Sunday sombre bell at dark
Eating bread from a newspaper
Drinking water from the chained cup
That the children filled with gravel
In the fountain basin where I sailed my ship
Slept at night in a dog kennel
But nobody chained him up.
His preoccupation against nature attributes to him traits of an animal existence. He comes across as an animal as he eats from a newspaper and drinks water from his ‘chained’ cup.…
Flowers are emblematic of relationships. As they are given out on joyous occasions (marriages, birthdays) as well as on sad occasions(at the hospital, death).They reflect very poignantly the power of relations. It has both its positives as well as negatives. Sylvia Plath in “Tulips” portrays how she wanted to divorce herself permanently from her worldly associations as she was caught in an emotional rollercoaster ride. This explains her repeated attempts at suicide. The prescribed poem has been stated by critics, to be penned in the hospital after a typical suicide attempt. Tulips in the poem stand for “feigned empathy”. The poet Ted Hughes states that the poem was written when Sylvia Plath had suffered miscarriage and had to be hospitalized for appendectomy in March of 1961. This, he explains, is the reason for the recurring references to birth and death.
“The tulips are too excitable” asserts the poetess, as it brings with it the uncertainty of relationships. It is winter in her life, as there is gloom and frostiness all around. Though it is snowed-in, the atmosphere is peaceful as it is surrounded by white. The speaker claims that she has nothing to do with any sort of turmoil/(explosions) outside, or the hassle of relationships.…