Rukhaya M.K

A Literary Companion

Author: rukhaya (page 2 of 19)

Poetry Analysis: W.H.Auden’s “The Unknown Citizen”


W.H. Auden’s “The Unknown Citizen” pertains to Auden’s middle period of creation. It was the time of authoritarianism in Europe, and amid dictatorship in the various countries in Europe, Man as a rational individual was losing his stance, distinctiveness and identity. The definition of the average citizen was confined to how well he conformed, how far he was predictable and how smoothly he rendered himself a cog in the wheel of society.

. The beginning of the poem in the passive voice is indicative of the citizen’s lack of initiative. The individual is paid a tribute by constructing a marble monument for him Just as, the Taj Mahal, ‘the poetry in marble’ was gifted by Shahjahan to his better-half Mumtaz Mahal. However, Mumtaz Mahal’s life was filled with blissful love. Here, the unknown citizen’s life is constrained by the dictums and doctrines of the state. The state is said to ‘construct’ him, as he is described, at the outset, in terms of statistics. Furthermore, he is acknowledged as ‘unknown’. Only his presence is acknowledged, not his individuality.

Subsequently he is attributed with certificates of conduct. ‘Saint’ is categorized as an old fashioned word that has lost the connotations that olden times gifted it with, in the modern day context.…

Raymond Williams’s Marxism and Literature: Tracing the Historicity of Literature


Raymond Williams has been praised by critics like Edward Said for his disregard for traditional academic boundaries, and the distinction between literature and Marxism. The connection between Marxism and literature has been debated from times immemorial.  Marxists claim that literature reflects the social system of the times as determined by the economic base. Yet Marxist critics themselves like Engels in a series of letters written in the 1890s recognized the relative autonomous nature of literature. Otherwise it would not explain how literary classics that were generated by earlier capitalist systems still held relevance for current generations.

Earlier on, it was deemed uncomplicated to categorize Marxism or literature as a static concept with known characteristics. In “Marxism and Literature,” Raymond Williams states how Marxism has experienced a recent revival– a related openness and flexibility of theoretical development, especially with reference to cultural theory. The concept of Literature, meanwhile, for related reasons, had become problematic in many ways. He states how the aim of the book is to trace this development. Williams traces his earlier conceptions of Marxism as he had been brought up in a working class family and how Marxism to him at that juncture had political and economic connotations. The cultural and literary arguments were merely an extension of the same.…

“Poetry Analysis Ted Hughes’ “The Howling of Wolves”


Like the poem ”The Song of a Rat,” the animal in Ted Hughes’ “The Howling of Wolves” is portrayed as a victim. They are victims of their own predatory nature, that has made them live like this according their wildest whims and inherent instincts. This impulse in them inexorably stresses on the theory of survival of the fittest without any qualms. They are therefore “without world” because their only consideration is their inner world. They assert themselves “on their long leashes of sound” that dissolve in mid-air silence. They make their presence felt through the silence of the nights. They have indeed a very keen sense of perception that is put on alert with the crying of a baby). This innocent instinctive cry of the baby is contrasted against the wild howlings.

They also detect very easily the tuning of a violin with their alert ears. The gentle sound is as fragile as an owl’s ear. The poet connotes more than he denotes here as an Owl’s range of audible sounds is different from most of the living beings. Its hearing ability is much more acute at certain frequencies that renders audible the slightest movement of their prey in leaves or undergrowth.

Poetry Analysis: Ted Hughes’ “The Casualty”


In Ted Hughes’s “The Casualty,” he portrays the domestication and commercialization of a tragedy. Farmers and housewives behold the plane crash with an air of indifference .They watched as if they encountered a fight between “a spider and a firefly.”The phrase “between the washing hung out” domesticates the larger scale of tragedy.”Far above the trees” indicates their standpoint: how they comprehend that they are far away from the domain of this disaster. They wait for the evening news with interest as yet another major tragedy is commercialized.

Fallen into a brambled or thorny ditch, the “suddenly smashed stems twitch.” This signifies the vegetation that is completely out of place or the human bones being smashed due to the accident. The pheasant, the hare and the wren respond with their respective reflux actions bewildered at this “unnatural occurrence. ‘The pheasant stands on the ruins in total astonishment. The hare that typically hops reluctantly and quizzically-thinking at every step; in response to the calamity frantically hops away flattening its ears without thinking twice. The wren goes about its duty of warning the others.

The response of people to the crash is elaborated upon in the subsequent paragraph. They “saw fall”, it was not only the fall of the plane, but the Fall of Man as well, where Nature won over science yet again.…

Poetry Analysis: Wilfred Owen’s “Anthem for Doomed Youth”


Wilfred Owen’s “Anthem for Doomed Youth” is essentially in the sonnet-form. The poem is a song eulogizing the youth emblematic of fresh spirit, fortitude and promises. In a way, ironically, it does point to the speaker himself who died at the early age of 25 (on 4 November 1918).

Owen was a young officer in the trench warfare of 1917-1918. He was shot a week before the end of the First World War as he led his men across the canal. The speaker asserts that “passing bells” could not hail or signal the death of these youth who died as ‘cattle’. The word ‘cattle’ utilized here is indeed significant. It is a common noun that does not attribute any sort of individuality to the youth as a whole. Furthermore, it is a collective noun indicating that none of the youth possessed an identity of his own. There were rather seen as animals, irrational creatures to be disregarded as they simply did not seem to exist. The youth are murdered just as cattle were mass-slaughtered.

What dominates the picture is the ‘monstrous’ sounds of guns. The adjective ‘monstrous’ alludes to the towering effect of the guns’ sounds and their dreadful attributes to the extent of paralyzing life.…

Poetry Analysis: Ted Hughes’s “Wodwo”


Ted Hughes introduces “Wodwo” in the “Poetry in the making”:”Here is another poem of my own about some goblin creature-I imagine this creature just discovering that it is alive in the world. It is quite bewildered to know what is going on .It has a whole string of thoughts, but at the centre of all of them you will see is this creature and its bewilderment. The poem is called “Wodwo”. A Wodwo is a sort of half-man half animal spirit of the forests.”It is the titular poem of the collection published in 1967.The Wodwo, according, to Wikipedia, “was a link between civilized humans and the dangerous elf-like spirits of natural woodland.”Therefore, the term Wodwo is indeed emblematic as it stands for the state of Identity Crisis as the Wodwo stands between two worlds, as he is in quest for his roots. As the proverbial ‘Wodwo’, he is caught between instinct and reason, myth and reality, freedom and rootedness. It illustrates the irresolution that Hughes stood for after the ‘Lupercal’ poems that portrayed instinctive violence and

The Wodwo probes his roots at the very outset as he asserts “What am I?”Note that he uses “what” instead of “Who” pointing to animal and vegetative qualities.…

Poetry Analysis: Ted Hughes’s “Wind”


Ted Hughes give us a short introduction to his poem “Wind” poem in “Poetry in the making”.

”On and off I live on a house on top of a hill in the Pennines, where the wind blows without obstruction across the tops of the moors. I have experienced some gales in that house, and here is a poem I once wrote about one of them. The grass of the fields there is a particularly brilliant watered green, and the stone walls of the enclosures that cover the hill-sides like great nets thrown over whales look coal black. The poem is simply called: Wind.”

The house referred to here is the house on top of a hill in the Pennines. The belligerent effects of the wind are underlined in the prescribed poem; as when it tends to get violent. The house is situated on top of a hill, therefore it is island-like in its solitude. The poet here describes it as a boat stranded on a stormy sea as he states: “This house has been far out at sea all night.” The pounding effects of the wind resembles that of a boat enraged at sea. The wind is so intense that it appears as though the storm is a prolonged one.…

Poetry Analysis: Ted Hughes’s “The Jaguar”


Ted Hughes’ “The Jaguar” is a tribute to the majesty of the animal. The eminence of the jaguar is contrasted against the insignificance of other animals. The apes yawn at their humdrum existence. Their only point of adoration is aimed at the fleas that surround them. The parrots have to screech to invite attention to themselves, as though one gets the impression that they are on fire. These shrieks are particularly aimed at the stroller with nuts. The tiger and lion appear lethargic and overcome with lassitude. Through the mechanical routine of the animals’ life, the poet seems to make a statement on the current mechanized human condition where people relegate the true meaning of life to basic biological functions.

The Boa constrictor (Boa constrictor) is a large, heavy-bodied species of snake. Its color pattern is highly variable yet distinctive. It is one of its kind. Yet, its static nature gives the impression of it being a fossil, an archeological remnant. It appears as though it has no utility value. The animals though supposed to be a source of amusement in the zoo, fail to make their presence felt. Cage after cage appears to be empty as all the animals lie in indolence.…

Poetry Analysis:Ted Hughes’s “Pike”


The Introduction to  Ted Hughes’s “Pike” can be found in “Poetry in the making” as Hughes states:”Here, in this next poem, is one my prize catches. I used to be a very keen angler for pike, as I still am when I get the chance, and I did most of my early fishing in a quite small lake, really a large pond. This pond went down to a great depth in one place. Sometimes on hot days, we would see something like a railway sleeper lying near the surface, and there certainly were huge pike in that pond. I suppose they are even bigger by now. Recently I felt like doing some pike fishing, but in circumstances where there was no chance of it, and over the days, as I remembered the extreme pleasures of that sport, bits of the following poem began to arrive. You will see by looking at the place in my memory very hard and very carefully, and by using the words that grew naturally out of the pictures and feelings. I captured not just a pike, I captured the whole pond, including the monsters I never hooked.”

The poet emphasizes the perfection of the Pike in the first stanza.…

Poetry Analysis: Ted Hughes’ “Second Glance at a Jaguar”


“Second Glance at a Jaguar” from Wodwo (1967) is a companion piece to the “The Jaguar,” and should be read along with the same. Ted Hughes wrote “Second Jaguar” ten years after he wrote the first “The Jaguar.” The ‘glance’ in the title, far from being a mere glance, focuses on intricate detail.

In the “Jaguar,” Ted Hughes depicted a zoo in which animals are caged in different slots, each characterized by sluggishness and sloth. In contrast to the other languorous creatures, the jaguar holds it own, through its magnificence and sounds its existence by asserting itself. Thus, the poem “The Jaguar’ is a statement on man’s modern state of existence where people are compartmentalized into leading a mechanical life. In a machine-like state, they relegate their individuality, and function like cogs in the wheel of society and pay no heed to voice their seity.

The poem “Second Glance at a Jaguar” focusses on the animal itself. The latter lacks the co-ordination and conventional form of the former poem. The poem succeeds in the effect it makes on the reader. The poem comes across as an artist’s instinctive stroke focusing on detail. Hughes foregrounds the Jaguar and marks his deviation from the System.…

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