Poem: Edgar Allan Poe -1849)

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SAMPLE EXCERPT:

[. . .] Thomas's "Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night" is an extended plea to his father to continue battling death and fight to live. In order to achieve his goal, Thomas writes the poem in a villanelle format -- a 19-line poem that relies on repetition. The poem is divided into six stanzas, the first of which introduces the purpose of the poem. In the first stanza Thomas writes, "Do not go gentle into that good night,/Old age should burn and rave at close of day;/Rage, rage against the dying of the light," in an attempt to convince his father to fight against death (Thomas 1-3). In the next four stanzas, Thomas provides examples of different men who fought against death to try and live another day. Among these different men are "wise men [who] at their end know dark is right…Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright/Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay…Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight…[and] Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight" (4, 7-8, 10, & 13). Repetition in these stanzas is not only seen in the rhyming scheme, but also in how Thomas alternates the final line of each stanza from "Do not go gentle into that good night" to "Rage, rage against the dying of the light" and back again (6, 9, 12, & 15).

The last stanza of "Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night" allows Thomas to address his father directly. In this final stanza, Thomas urges his father to be strong like the wise men, good men, wild men, and grave men. Paradoxically, "Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears" can have a double meaning -- if Thomas's father dies, it will be a blessing to him and a curse upon Thomas, but if Thomas's father lives, it will be a curse to him and a blessing to Thomas (17).

The villanelle structure of "Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night" allows Thomas give his father different examples of men who were in the same predicament while coming to terms with his father's impending death. The repetition and cyclical nature of the poem enables the reader to understand Thomas's acceptance of death as a natural and necessary part of life even if he is unprepared for it.

E.E. Cummings (1894-1962) was an American writer who experimented with poetic form and structure. "she being brand new" incorporates his experimentation with poetic structure and symbols to create an extended metaphor of learning to love, or make love to, a new woman.

At its surface, "she being brand new" is a poem about a man getting to learn about and break in a brand new car. The narrator describes how although the car seemed stiff at first and that his initial approach was at first rejected, he was able to try to get the car into gear and take a drive. Cummings writes, "I went right to it flooded-the-carburetor cranked her//up, slipped the/clutch (and then somehow got into reverse she/kicked what/the hell) next/minute I was back in neutral and//again slow-ly;bare, ly nudg. ing" (Cummings 9-15). While this can be interpreted as the car's negative reaction to the narrator attempting to push it beyond its limits, this description can also be applied to the reaction his new romantic conquest had when he was too sexually assertive. The poem is full of hidden sexual connotations as Cummings chooses to personify the vehicle with feminine references thus establishing that is not only referencing the difficulties of breaking in a new car, but comparing breaking in a new car to breaking in a new lover.

As the poem continues, it is evident that the car and the narrator, or the unnamed female and the narrator, become more comfortable with each other and that the narrator is finally able to reach his goal. Cummings concludes "(it/was the first ride and believe I we was/happy to see how nice and acted right up to/the last minute coming back down by the Public/Gardens" (24-28).

The use of an extended metaphor gives the poem depth and forces the reader to look beyond the literal. Moreover, the manner in which the poem is formatted -- stylistically it is formatted to mirror the events taking place -- allow the reader to further comprehend the obstacles that had to be overcome by the narrator in his journey.

Shel Silverstein (1930-1999) was a beloved American children's writer who frequently addressed issues of uncertainty and the unknown in his poetry. In "Where the Sidewalk Ends," Silverstein addresses uncertainty and the unknown through repetition and imagery.

In the poem, Silverstein strives to have the reader look beyond what he or she knows and understands. By frequently using the word and, Silverstein helps to develop the belief that there are limitless possibilities to what can exist beyond what is known to the reader. Silverstein writes, "There is a place where the sidewalk ends/And before the street begins,/And there the grass grows soft and white,/And there the sun burns crimson bright,/And there the moon-bird rests from his flight/To cool in a peppermint wind" (Silverstein, "Where the Sidewalk Ends," 1-6). By pointing out these various things his companion may have not noticed before, Silverstein is attempting to urge his companion and the reader to "leave this place where the smoke blows black/And the dark street winds and bends" (7-8).

The final stanza of the poem concludes with some certainty, which is only evident to children. By writing, "the children, they know,/the place where the sidewalk ends," Silverstein is asserting that the innocence of children allows them to understand why certain things are as they are and that knowledge and experience often contribute to a loss of faith and understanding.

Through the use of repetition and imagery, Silverstein attempts to reassure the reader and his companion that the unknown is nothing to be feared and only when one confronts his or her fears will he or she know the truth. Moreover, Silverstein contends it is the innocence inherent in children that allows them to be fearless and bold and that people should embrace this innocence and be as fearless as they once were.

The concepts of uncertainty and the unknown are again explored in Silverstein's "Whatif." In this poem, Silverstein relies on rhetoric and repetition to address the uncertainty the narrator feels. One of the main concerns the narrator has in the poem is failure. Throughout the poem, the narrator worries about failing at things he has tried to attempt, or even things that are far beyond his control. For instance, the narrator worries about simple things such as: "Whatif I'm dumb?...Whatif I flunk that test?" that he may be able to control or influence to more complex issues such as "Whatif they start a war?/What if my parents get divorced?" (Silverstein, "Whatif," 5, 11, & 19-20). Silverstein repeatedly poses what-if questions that cannot be answered because of the uncertainty the future has. Additionally, this poem is easy to relate to at any age because of the uncertainty constantly present in people's lives. As Silverstein contends, "Everything seems well, and then/the nighttime Whatifs strike again!" (25-26). Through this simple final statement, Silverstein argues that a person will forever be uncertain about one thing or another as long as they are alive because there is never a way to be fully aware of what will happen in the future.

Works Cited

Blake, William. "The Chimney Sweeper." Songs of Experience. 1794. Web. 22 January 2013.

Cummings, E.E. "she being brand new." 100 Selected Poems. pp. 24-25. GoogleBooks. Web. 24

January 2013.

Dickinson, Emily. "Because I could not stop for Death." Poets.org from The Academy of American Poets. Web. 22 January 2013.

Owen, Wilfred. "Dulce et Decorum Est." The War Poetry Website. Web. 23 January 2013.

Poe, Edgar Allan. "Annabel Lee." Complete Tales & Poems of Edgar Allan Poe. New York:

Vintage Books, 1975. pp. 654-666. Print.

Silverstein, Shel. "Whatif." Falling Up. New York: HaperCollins, 1996). Print.

-"Where the Sidewalk Ends." Where the Sidewalk Ends. New York: Harper & Row Publishers, 1974. Print.

Thomas, Dylan. "Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night." The Poems of Dylan Thomas. New Directions Publishing, 1953. Web. 23 January 2013. [END OF PREVIEW]

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Edgar Allan Poe -1849).  (2013, January 24).  Retrieved May 20, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/edgar-allan-poe-1809-1849/7173017

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"Edgar Allan Poe -1849)."  24 January 2013.  Web.  20 May 2019. <https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/edgar-allan-poe-1809-1849/7173017>.

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"Edgar Allan Poe -1849)."  Essaytown.com.  January 24, 2013.  Accessed May 20, 2019.
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