Rukhaya M.K

A Literary Companion

Page 3 of 18

Poetry Analysis: Ted Hughes’ “Hawk Roosting”


“Hawk Roosting”, published in 1960,is included in Ted Hughes’s second book, Lupercal. The Hawk in Ted Hughes’ poem “Hawk Roosting” is power personified.The roosting of the hawk signifies its self-assertion. The very first word of the poem “I,” is a sign of the Supreme Ego. The hawk declares that he sits on top of the ‘wood’ that stands for his kingdom. He ‘eyes are closed in oblivion, for at the present, for him, only he exists. His world is limited between his hooked head and hooked feet. He is in ”Inaction’. For action does not define him, rather, he defines action. This is no falsifying dream, a castle bulit in the air, but the omnipresent truth. He dreams about “in sleep rehearse perfect kills and eat.” Therefore, it is not the basic necessity of killing and eating that concerns him, but the style of it.

Thus the hawk transforms into a metaphor of Supreme arrogance of Man where he is haunted by power. It echoes the Faustian Endeavor disregarding salvation, and Tughlaq ( Girish Karnad’s “Tughlaq”) who ventured to become another God. Aziz in the play “Tughlaq” stands as an aspect of Tughlaq when he asserts:” What’s the point in raping for sheer lust?…

Poetry Analysis: Thom Gunn’s “My Sad Captains”


In “My Sad Captains’, Gunn portrays the legends of history as the epitomes of determination but without any social inclination or purpose. Like stars in the sky, they continue to shine in the universe of history; but their existence serves no purpose. These sad captains thus thrive in a nihilistic arena were no meaningful role can be attributed to them. They are distant and disinterested as stars. The poem thus verges on Sartrean existentialism. They are in total opposition and contrast to the motorcyclists in Thom Gunn’s “On the Move” who found meaning in their attitude and the journey that they undertook. The title can be traced to Antony and Cleopatra. It echoes the predicament of Antony living for the sake of the present, without focusing towards the future. He is forced to move forward without having anything to look forward to; as he has lost the company of Cleopatra. The title is also significant as a captain is the leader of the ship; he steers all the people on board to their prescribed destination. Here, the captains are sad because they do not possess any practical value any longer.

The poet seems to suggest the randomness of thought and situation as he states that the stars began to appear one by one.…

Poetry Analysis: Thom Gunn’s “Considering the Snail”


Thom Gunn’s “Considering the Snail” is a poem in syllabic metre. It is from his third collection My Sad Captains. Due to Ted Hughes’ incorrigible obsession with birds, animals and beasts, critics have pointed out that this particular poem may be a parody of the same. The poem is on the continuity pursued by the snail. Gunn himself stated that “my life insists on continuities – between America and England, between free verse and metre, between vision and everyday consciousness.”

The snail ‘pushes ‘forth as though defying the forces of Nature. One, the gravitational pull below that challenges it. Secondly, the grass that acts as a hindrance in front of it. Further, the grass is full with water. And the ‘rain that has darkened the earth’s dark.’ The line:” He/moves in a wood of desire” evokes sexual connotations. In general, the ‘wood of desire’ may signify man’s deepest dreams that he endeavors to fulfill. In the poem, on the literal level, it denotes the snail’s quest for food. The snail moves with obstinate willpower and deliberation as though it has to achieve its goal at any cost. Its slowness, steadfastness and temperament signify the tremendous determination it encompasses. As it moves in the darkness, it leaves behind a trail of brightness.…

Poetry Analysis: Wilfred Owen’s “Arms and the Boy”


The title of the Wilfred Owen’s “Arms and the Boy”is an extension of George Bernard Shaw’s “Arms and the Man.” The replacement of ‘boy’ for man indicates the nature of the monstrous First World War, that the Great War had boys instead of men forced into the war. The starting phrase “Let the boy try along this bayonet blade” implies let the boy experiment with the weapon proving that he is not accustomed to doing so. The steel is depicted as ‘cold’ exemplifying the cold-bloodedness of the nature of the weapons. It also illustrates how it is hungry with the craving for blood, reflecting its hideous tendencies that does not serve anything constructive. It is typified as ‘blue’ or bloodless as though possessing no life at all and no human instinct. The war dehumanized men to their own likes. The association of men with weapons of destruction was as though they were initiated into perversion. The colour blue is likened to the “madman’s flash”. ”The ‘madman’s flash’ was a piece of blue cloth attached to the uniform of a soldier being treated for stress induced mental illness, serving to warn those he met that he might behave in an erratic manner.”( http://www.eliteskills.com/c/1808).…

Poetry Analysis: Wilfred Owen’s “Insensibility”


Wilfred Owen’s “Insensibility” is said to be written as a response to William Wordsworth who once claimed that “Who is the happy warrior/ Who is he/ That every man in arms should wish to be”. (“Character of the Happy Warrior” )The poem appears to be a sarcastic retort to the Romantic poet when most of the stanzas begin with the tone “’Happy are these…” The format of the poem in the form of an ode adds to the cynicism of the poem. Since a ode is primarily meant to eulogize a person or aspect. Therefore Owen has made use of the Romantic poet’s medium to make his statement, and to put it through effectively.

The poet begins the poem by claiming that Happy are those soldiers who have made themselves impervious to suffering rendering their veins cold. Who have remain unaffected by compassion, neither do they have contempt or affinity for the same. They lie sore on the alleys, put together clumsily(cobbled) with their companions. The word ‘cobble’ may also signify that their value is as immaterial as material shoes. They are real troops who ‘fade’ here, real human beings and not vegetative flowers that the poet can feed on, for a subject to rant about.…

Poetry Analysis: Wilfred Owen’s “Dulce et Decorum Est “


The title of Wilfred Owen’s “Dulce et Decorum Est ” alludes to the words of a Latin saying from Horace’s ode (Ode III.2.13).The words mean:” “It is sweet and right.” The saying is rounded off at the end of Wilfred Owen’s “Dulce et Decorum Est ” to signify what the poet actually meant.

The poem penned during the First World War dealt with the denunciation and disapproval of war. Published posthumously in 1920, the first draft was dedicated to Poe, and a revised later draft to “a certain poetess.” Nevertheless, the poem comes across as a signpost to the supporters of war that was detrimental to humanity .

The poet outlines the predicament of the average soldier involved in war. He describes their ordeal as they travel: “Bent double, like old beggars under sacks.” The speaker makes this comparison as their backs are bent ‘doubly’ by the hardships they endured plus the demands of their profession. Due to this posture and intense fatigue, they walked “knock-kneed.” Their exhaustion had influenced their temperament rendering them as grouchy as old-cursing hags. They turned their backs to the ‘haunting flares.’ The phrase refers to rockets that were sent up to ignite with a radiant glare,so that it would reveal with its radiance, men and other concealed target/arms in the region flanked by the front lines.…

Poetry Analysis: Wilfred Owen’s “Greater Love”


In Wilfred Owen’s “Greater Love”, the poet places patriotic love or love for one’s country men on a pedestal as compared to romantic love. Wilfred Owen thus negates the innumerable love poems that have been immortalized by the past poets. He talks of it as a greater love as it is higher in degree being platonic, selfless and based on altruistic sacrifice. Physical love in such a stance is reduced to naught as the poet opines:”Red lips are not so red.” The kindness of the wooer and wooed both holds an element on selfishness in contrast to the one who dies out of love for his country. ‘Stead’ is the place of a person or thing as occupied by a successor or substitute.As the stained stones of the dead are kissed by the English, the poet gets disillusioned as he foresees his successors being blinded by worldly concerns as opposed to their duty to countrymen. Romantic Love is portrayed as a woman who has lost her ability to seduce and lure.

The profession of the soldier is one where the soldiers are rendered immune by the greatest teacher-Experience. The slender lover trembles exquisitely in passion; but the imagery is eclipsed in comparison to the trembling limbs of the soldier skewed by hardships in the battlefield.…

Poetry Analysis: Wilfred Owen’s “Disabled”


Owen stated that his chief concern was “War, and the pity of War. The poetry is in the pity.” Wilfred Owen’s “Disabled” is inspired from a real life tragedy during World War I; a soldier whose life was drastically changed after the monstrous war. Owen encountered various instances like these when he was hospitalized in Craiglockhart Hospital. Several of these injuries aggravated due to lack of adequate medical care. Wilfred Owen depicts the typical picture of the disabled where “people with disabilities are more dependent, childlike, passive, sensitive, and miserable” than their nondisabled counterparts, and “are depicted as pained by their fate.” (Linton, 1998, p. 25).

The man appears to be in a stagnant condition, on a wheelchair. His reference of the passing time is not action, but the changing hues of day and night as he waits for the dark. He waits for the dark, as he has nothing productive to do. Darkness may also be a symbol of death , that what his vegetable existence longs for. His ghastly suit of grey does not offer him much protection as he shivers in it. The happy voices of the boys in the park come across as a melancholic hymn to him, as his perception of life is distressing as his life is.…

Poetry Analysis: Wilfred Owen’s “Futility”


Wilfred Owen’s “Futility” appeared in “The Nation” on 15th June 1918. Just as in his poem “Frustration”, Wilfred Owen talks “of the grievances of a wounded man who they move into the sun, in some hope that it will ‘stir’ him”. The poet begins the poem talking of a certain “Him’ It is obvious that the poet is talking about the Soldier. The anonymity points to his relegation of identity; and lack of individuality in a system that places the System over the individual. The anonymity of the dead soldier may also be employed for objectivity, and to render the experience universal-so as to point to the predicament of any soldier. The poem functions as an elegy for the dead soldier. The sun stands as a metaphor for the Giver of Life here. Once, the poet asserts, the sun’s touch did awaken the man in question. Once upon a time, he was ‘at home’. “At home” signifies that the man was comfortable and satisfied. The phrase “whispering of fields unsown.” suggests the possibility of fields yet to be sown, dreams yet to be realized.

The sun always awoke him, until this day. This suggests the likelihood that he is not anymore in a condition to be awakened by the sun.…

Poetry Analysis: W.H.Auden’s “Funeral Blues”


W.H. Auden’s  “Funeral Blues” was first published as “Song IX” from ‘Twelve Songs’ (1936).The poem conjures up the atmosphere of a funeral. The tone of the poem is imperative as Death is commanding, inflexible and irreversible. The speaker dictates to stop all the clocks as time had been arrested for the deceased. To the ones associated with the dead person, Time had come to a standstill. All communication had been cut off, and therefore the telephone, a metaphor of contact and communication has to be cut off. The dog barking with a juicy bone is silenced as instinct no longer reigns supreme. The piano and drum are relegated as the harmony and beat of life has ceased. The coffin has to be brought, and the mourner has to be summoned in the process of mourning.

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,

Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,

Silence the pianos and with muffled drum

Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead

Scribbling on the sky the message He is Dead.

Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,

Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves

The airplanes seem to be moaning overhead paying a salute to the departed.…

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