Thursday, October 7, 2010
By definition, an elegy is a lament for the dead. I found it rather interesting how the speaker in this poem placed a strange twist on the meaning of elegy, and instead of writing an elegy for someone who was dead he wrote it for someone who was still alive. Throughout this poem, there seems to be two concepts being elaborated on. Although death will be one distance eventually separating the son from his father, meanwhile there are vast distances between them in life. While the father is ready to die and maintains a "sureness of faith", the son says bluntly that he is not ready. He even says that he "can't just say good-bye as cheerfully as if he were embarking on a trip." The tone of this poem voiced the speaker's doubt and showed that his elegy mourned both what is and what is not to be. He already fears his father's death and to some extent his own. I think this is true for many individuals who are still young. There are few who are ready to accept death while they still have much life to live, and it seems like many who are older are more at peace with the idea of dying. The speaker will probably grow to share his father's viewpoint later on in life.
The overall theme of the poem "Delight in Disorder" was one of imperfections and inconsistencies. The speaker held the opinion that one's imperfections are what make her most beautiful, and went on to give examples of what types of flaws he found charming. For instance, in today's world a mole on a girl's cheek can enhance beauty and even become her trademark, like Marilyn Monroe's. And graying temples can give a man the impression of being a distinguished individual rather than having the negative connotation of aging. I also noticed that the speaker used a few oxymorons to enforce his conception. In the first line, he states that there is a "sweet disorder" in the mindless way a woman dresses. By saying this, he gives the word "disorder" a positive meaning showing that he likes the feeling of disregard or spontaneity in disorganization. Also, near the end of the poem he uses the phrase "wild civility" that does more to "bewitch [him] than when art is too precise in every part". Through this statement, the speaker reveals that he is dazzled by a lady who exudes an air of carelessness.
The vibe I got from this poem was that it was a stream of arguments to prove that man's greatest fear has no power over him. By man's greatest fear I am referencing the fear of death in this instance. In the poem, the speaker is directly addressing death and almost criticizing it for having a false sense of strength over the people it affects. The speaker, however, says that anything that has such despicable causes ("and dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell") is not worthy of respect. Basically, the speaker holds that the realm of death is dishonorable and is a dimension in which no one would want to rule. On another note, it becomes clear that the speaker wove some religious undertones into the meaning of this poem. When it says "one short sleep passed, we wake eternally", the speaker is referencing Christians' belief that death is merely the beginning of eternal life. Oftentimes death is seen as a peaceful event to a faith-filled individual because it means being reunited with God. The last line of the sonnet serves as a paradoxical message involving death. It is written that "and death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die". Here the speaker is saying that because of the magnitude of Christians' faith the idea of death will die because it will no longer seem like an ending to their lives. Death will be viewed as a beginning of a new life, an eternal one.
In Shakespeare's sonnet "That time of year", the speaker uses a series of metaphors to characterize the nature of what he perceives to be his old age. During the first quatrain he compares his age to autumn, referencing the yellowing leaves and barren tree limbs. Through this comparison, "upon those boughs which shake against the cold", he emphasized the harshness and coldness of old age. In the next quatrain, he made the comparison of his age to twilight; when light slowly fades to darkness it symbolizes his ever approaching death. The focus here was on a gradual fading of light from youth to a growing darkness of aging. In nature, the seasons and time of day are processes which move in cycles. In human life; however, the fading of warmth and light are not cyclical, and will not come back again. Once they are gone they are gone forever. This idea is reflected in the third quatrain. The speaker compares himself to the glowing remnants of a fire and says that on the ashes of the logs that enabled it to burn he will soon be extinguished and sink into those ashes. The connection made between the dying fire and the speaker's death is not a cyclical one. Instead, it shows that life ending is a final and irreversible event. That being said, the speaker leaves the reader with a final piece of advice. He tells the reader that they must perceive these things and allow their love to grow stronger for those they care about. He says they should do this through the knowledge that they will soon be parted from those they love when their life is extinguished by time.