this paper, I will compare three poems. These poems are:’ the obligation to be
happy by Linda Pastan, ‘after making love in winter by Sharon Olds and ‘Winter Stars
by Larry Levis. In my comparison of these poems, I will look at their similarities
and differences in which at the same time I will look at their figurative
language and structure. Figurative language includes the use of literary and
sound devices in a poem while structure uses includes dramatic structure, lyric
structure and narrative structure.
According to their similarities in figurative
language and sound devices, imagery has been used in the three poems. The
imagery common here is in form of metaphors. In the poem ‘the obligation to be
happy’, imagery has depicted itself in various ways. “That downward tug on my
mouth’ is a
visual type of imagery that the poet uses to show frown as a natural body type
of reaction, instead of directly saying that the speaker was frowning.
There is still a visual imagery where it is said, ‘Knapsack heavy with gold coins’
to show the vision of a person who is weighed down and to show the feeling the
speaker has towards the expectations placed on her. The bag is full of gold
coins to symbolize how people see another person’s life and then start judging
whether that person is happy or unhappy. Definitely, a person with riches of
gold in the world can be said to be happy but it’s a mistake we make because
wealth and happiness are two totally different things. The entire society
should conclude that a person is happy after knowing the person’s situation. Thus,
‘knapsack heavy with gold coins’ is a metaphor for personal responsibility to
be happy. The gold coins are used as a metaphor of material objects that could
bring happiness to a person. The sun
used therein is a metaphor of happiness. Just as the sun is expected to rise up,
people expect the speaker to be happy too. The speaker should be cheerful at
all times but she shows that it is unreasonable .Rain and clouds are metaphors
of difficulties or certain feelings that hinder happiness. People expect the speaker to be happy at all
times irrespective of what .The speaker on the other hand feels this as
pressure because he cannot make it happy with the negatives.
the poem ‘After making love in winter, Sharon olds has used Imagery in various
places. This imagery also is in form
metaphors. For example, ‘blooms of fire’, and ‘beams of light’ is a metaphor of
physical touch. It’s metaphorical how it has been used where Larry mind
compares the father’s mind to vacation post. He tries to show that the father’s
mind is in a good place, where everyone could like to see. The dad’s brain is a
wondrous place as it was once. That imagery of the quaint poem at rest portrays
dementia as a gift. The poets have used imagery here in the three poems to
convey a very great message. This is a metaphor too. They have successfully
conveyed it through such a great device.in the three poems, the imagery I have analyzed
is depicted through metaphors.
is also a common figurative language in these three poems. Tones in these poems
are totally different according to the message that the poets want to depict.
In the poem, ‘the obligation to be happy’, an accusatory tone has been used
directed to people who put their expectations on the speaker. The speaker uses
‘you’ to point blame to the ones who expect happiness to come easily.
Affectionate tone has been used in the poem by Sharon olds in the entire poem
to vividly show that atmosphere for a sexual act. The persona’s feeling,
behavior, the feelings and meditations after the act are all affectionate.
Emotions and spiritual results of
sexual acts have been clearly depicted. A meditative tone has been used in the poem,
‘winter stars ‘to show the remembrance of the memories of the past. A narrative
tone also has been displayed in this poem in which it is entirely narration by
the speaker who is the second person in this poem.
There is a use of diction in the poem ‘the
obligation to be happy and the winter stars. In the poem obligation to be happy,
there is abstract diction in the first stanza where’ love’ has been used as
something very hard to obtain and more hard to be happy. This gives readers
freedom of own interpretation of love and use it to understand the theme of the
poem. In the winter stars, the poem’s diction shows slowly deteriorating man’s
mind as an experience that is pleasant and brings people together. In two
poems, the obligation to be happy and the winter stars, similes as a form of
imagery have been used. For example, ‘bodies touch like blooms of fire’ by
Linda Pastan. Also, ‘It was
like a glinting beak in a hand’ in the poem by Larry Levis. All this is
to their differences in the figurative language, every poem has used a language
that is unique from the other. In the poem, ‘the obligation to be happy’
hyperbole has been used. The poet says’ as if my own fidelity /sadness has been
hidden’ brings about an exaggeration of the feelings she had hence a hyperbole.
The speaker is showing that there is a hindrance of her feelings and explains
further on this claiming fidelity to sadness and still emphasizes on how she will
never be happy as she expected. She is supposed to hide it as if it is a deadly
sin. There is the use of allusion in this poem also; referring to the Greek
myth that king Mida is given the mandate to turn everything he touches into gold.
After he gets amazed of this power, it is proven a curse because the food and
the people he loves turns into gold. This is classical allusion. In the role of the
speaker as a housewife; she is expected to be happy for she has nothing to
hinder her as per the society whereas in the real sense Mida and the speaker
feel lonely and miserable.
the poem, “after making love in winter’, there is the use of repetition. For
example, the word ‘over’ has been used severally. There is also the use of
rhyme to emphasize words like ‘ice/like’ in the seventh and eight lines. There
is also contrast that has been used to show the different temperatures of these
characters. So as to emphasize this contrast, line eight has been enjambled and
rhymed. This contrast shows how the persona felt after different acts from the
lover such as caressing and then the sexual act.
the poem ‘winter stars ‘by Larry Levis, there is the use of personification. In
this case’ like laughter that has found a final’ is personification because
laughter cannot find. That a human character. In the same poem, there is
symbolism. The title ‘winter stars’ is a symbol of pleasurable effects of
dementia. “The poem has also used pathos where the dementia idea advantageously
impacts the ones who have it and the people around them. The different tones and titles create the
mood of these poems, whereas the mood in these poems is different from one poem
to the other. I the ‘obligation to be happy’, the mood created vary from each
stanza. In the first stanza, there is an accusation mood, hopeless mood in
stanza two and defeat mood in stanza three. There is an affectionate mood in ‘after
making love is summer’ and a meditative mood in the ‘winter stars’. Actually,
there is always a relationship between mood and tone.
Secondly, I will discuss the similarities of
these poems in terms of their structure. In this case I will analyze them in
terms of the stanzas and form of the poem. In the poem, the obligation to be
happy and after making love in winter, a dramatic structure has been used. Both
the poems are basically monologues. The speakers in the two poems is addressing
a silent listener.in the obligation to be happy, the speaker says more about
herself. It starts by the character entering direct to the scene and speak
their own words. The use of fullstops has been displayed at the end of every
stanza. In ‘after making love in winter’, fullstop has been used at the end of
the stanza. Other parts have been dominated of commas. In the three poems,
there is a particular title that has been addressed. In the obligation to be
happy and after making love in winter, there are persona speaking lines. This
can be noted and are many as one goes on reading them. For example, persona in
the poem by Linda Pastan says, ‘and so I smile, as if my own fidelity’ and in
Sharon olds poem the persona says, ‘I gaze at the silvery bulbs’ among others.
All these are persona voices.
difference in structure occurs in poem ‘winter stars’ where a narrative
structure has been used. It was written in one continuous structure and still
it is more of a narrative story than a poem. The poem started the narrator’s exposition.
The narrator is also a secondary character. The obligation to be happy was
written into three uniformed stanzas in terms of the number of lines. It has
three stanzas that are all made of seven lines.it still has line breaks in
stanza two and stanza three , line two respectively. Commas have been used
inside the stanzas lines for rest purposes. One word sentence has been noted
especially in stanza two line one where the word ‘Happiness” has been used.
making love in winter has more line than the’ obligation to be happy’ and the
winter stars’ .It has twenty seven and the whole poem is one stanza. This poem
has got assonance, which is referred to as repetition of vowel sound. In this
case ‘oo’ and ‘ee’ sound has been displayed in various words such as ‘cool,
blooms, loose, room, feel and deep’. This is evident in a variety of stanzas.
There is also repetition in the fourth and third last lines where the word
‘over’ has been repetitively used in the two lines. Repetition of the word ‘cool’,
‘ee’ and oo’ vowels have brought about assonance. In the same poem, there is
the use of stressed syllables. The’ee’ and ‘oo’ have been used severally for
stress purpose. The winter stars is
also different in that some of its lines as stanzas are less and others long. Its
stanzas are twelve ranging from two lines to twenty lines. More commas have been
used in lines. Repetition has been used where the speaker says, ‘When I left home at seventeen, I left for good. The other difference
in these three poems is that they contain different titles which bring about
their different meanings. Rhythm has been shown in the poem, ‘after making love
in winter’ by the use of stressed and unstressed syllables and has been less
shown in the other two poems. Line breaks are only found in one poem. There is
no any uniformity of these poems by the look.
conclusion, these poems are all educative. The poets have used the various
techniques that I have discussed in this paper and all have made the reader to
anticipate reading them more and more. I decided to analyze these poems because
their appearance makes them different and so one can get many issues to address
from then basing on their structure and the writing techniques. Poetry is
indeed a food for the brain through trigger because one must think critically
when analyzing them.