Inthis paper, I will compare three poems. These poems are:’ the obligation to behappy by Linda Pastan, ‘after making love in winter by Sharon Olds and ‘Winter Starsby Larry Levis. In my comparison of these poems, I will look at their similaritiesand differences in which at the same time I will look at their figurativelanguage and structure.
Figurative language includes the use of literary andsound devices in a poem while structure uses includes dramatic structure, lyricstructure and narrative structure. According to their similarities in figurativelanguage and sound devices, imagery has been used in the three poems. Theimagery common here is in form of metaphors. In the poem ‘the obligation to behappy’, imagery has depicted itself in various ways. “That downward tug on mymouth’ is avisual type of imagery that the poet uses to show frown as a natural body typeof 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 thespeaker has towards the expectations placed on her. The bag is full of goldcoins to symbolize how people see another person’s life and then start judgingwhether that person is happy or unhappy.
Definitely, a person with riches ofgold in the world can be said to be happy but it’s a mistake we make becausewealth and happiness are two totally different things. The entire societyshould conclude that a person is happy after knowing the person’s situation. Thus,’knapsack heavy with gold coins’ is a metaphor for personal responsibility tobe happy. The gold coins are used as a metaphor of material objects that couldbring happiness to a person. The sunused 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 atall times but she shows that it is unreasonable .Rain and clouds are metaphorsof difficulties or certain feelings that hinder happiness.
People expect the speaker to be happy at alltimes irrespective of what .The speaker on the other hand feels this aspressure because he cannot make it happy with the negatives.Inthe poem ‘After making love in winter, Sharon olds has used Imagery in variousplaces. This imagery also is in formmetaphors. For example, ‘blooms of fire’, and ‘beams of light’ is a metaphor ofphysical touch. It’s metaphorical how it has been used where Larry mindcompares the father’s mind to vacation post.
He tries to show that the father’smind is in a good place, where everyone could like to see. The dad’s brain is awondrous place as it was once. That imagery of the quaint poem at rest portraysdementia as a gift. The poets have used imagery here in the three poems toconvey a very great message. This is a metaphor too. They have successfullyconveyed it through such a great device.in the three poems, the imagery I have analyzedis depicted through metaphors.
Toneis also a common figurative language in these three poems. Tones in these poemsare 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 useddirected 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 poemto 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 ofsexual 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 narrativetone also has been displayed in this poem in which it is entirely narration bythe speaker who is the second person in this poem. There is a use of diction in the poem ‘theobligation 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 assomething very hard to obtain and more hard to be happy. This gives readersfreedom of own interpretation of love and use it to understand the theme of thepoem. In the winter stars, the poem’s diction shows slowly deteriorating man’smind as an experience that is pleasant and brings people together. In twopoems, the obligation to be happy and the winter stars, similes as a form ofimagery have been used. For example, ‘bodies touch like blooms of fire’ byLinda Pastan. Also, ‘It waslike a glinting beak in a hand’ in the poem by Larry Levis. All this isindirect comparison. Accordingto their differences in the figurative language, every poem has used a languagethat 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 beenhidden’ 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 explainsfurther on this claiming fidelity to sadness and still emphasizes on how she willnever be happy as she expected. She is supposed to hide it as if it is a deadlysin. There is the use of allusion in this poem also; referring to the Greekmyth 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 andthe people he loves turns into gold.
This is classical allusion. In the role of thespeaker as a housewife; she is expected to be happy for she has nothing tohinder her as per the society whereas in the real sense Mida and the speakerfeel lonely and miserable.Inthe poem, “after making love in winter’, there is the use of repetition. Forexample, the word ‘over’ has been used severally. There is also the use ofrhyme to emphasize words like ‘ice/like’ in the seventh and eight lines. Thereis also contrast that has been used to show the different temperatures of thesecharacters.
So as to emphasize this contrast, line eight has been enjambled andrhymed. This contrast shows how the persona felt after different acts from thelover such as caressing and then the sexual act.Inthe poem ‘winter stars ‘by Larry Levis, there is the use of personification. Inthis case’ like laughter that has found a final’ is personification becauselaughter cannot find.
That a human character. In the same poem, there issymbolism. The title ‘winter stars’ is a symbol of pleasurable effects ofdementia.
“The poem has also used pathos where the dementia idea advantageouslyimpacts the ones who have it and the people around them. The different tones and titles create themood of these poems, whereas the mood in these poems is different from one poemto the other. I the ‘obligation to be happy’, the mood created vary from eachstanza. In the first stanza, there is an accusation mood, hopeless mood instanza two and defeat mood in stanza three. There is an affectionate mood in ‘aftermaking 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 ofthese poems in terms of their structure.
In this case I will analyze them interms of the stanzas and form of the poem. In the poem, the obligation to behappy and after making love in winter, a dramatic structure has been used. Boththe poems are basically monologues. The speakers in the two poems is addressinga silent listener.in the obligation to be happy, the speaker says more aboutherself. It starts by the character entering direct to the scene and speaktheir own words.
The use of fullstops has been displayed at the end of everystanza. In ‘after making love in winter’, fullstop has been used at the end ofthe 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 behappy and after making love in winter, there are persona speaking lines. Thiscan be noted and are many as one goes on reading them. For example, persona inthe poem by Linda Pastan says, ‘and so I smile, as if my own fidelity’ and inSharon olds poem the persona says, ‘I gaze at the silvery bulbs’ among others.
All these are persona voices. Thedifference in structure occurs in poem ‘winter stars’ where a narrativestructure has been used. It was written in one continuous structure and stillit 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 waswritten into three uniformed stanzas in terms of the number of lines. It hasthree stanzas that are all made of seven lines.it still has line breaks instanza two and stanza three , line two respectively. Commas have been usedinside the stanzas lines for rest purposes.
One word sentence has been notedespecially in stanza two line one where the word ‘Happiness” has been used. ‘Aftermaking love in winter has more line than the’ obligation to be happy’ and thewinter stars’ .It has twenty seven and the whole poem is one stanza.
This poemhas got assonance, which is referred to as repetition of vowel sound. In thiscase ‘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 isthe use of stressed syllables. The’ee’ and ‘oo’ have been used severally forstress purpose. The winter stars isalso different in that some of its lines as stanzas are less and others long.
Itsstanzas are twelve ranging from two lines to twenty lines. More commas have beenused in lines. Repetition has been used where the speaker says, ‘When I left home at seventeen, I left for good. The other differencein these three poems is that they contain different titles which bring abouttheir different meanings.
Rhythm has been shown in the poem, ‘after making lovein winter’ by the use of stressed and unstressed syllables and has been lessshown in the other two poems. Line breaks are only found in one poem. There isno any uniformity of these poems by the look.Inconclusion, these poems are all educative. The poets have used the varioustechniques that I have discussed in this paper and all have made the reader toanticipate reading them more and more. I decided to analyze these poems becausetheir appearance makes them different and so one can get many issues to addressfrom then basing on their structure and the writing techniques.
Poetry isindeed a food for the brain through trigger because one must think criticallywhen analyzing them.