Jeremy Hwang

Mrs. Creelman

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AP/GT Phoenix IV, Period 7

28 January 2018

Poetry Exploration

Five A.M. is a time in
which most people are usually asleep, yet those who are awake get to experience
the solemn time of day. Five A.M. by William
Stafford and Five Flights Up by Elizabeth
Bishop convey different points of view and state of mind during this
exclusive time of day. Stafford asks
rhetorical questions and ponders in the serenity of Five A.M. Bishop on the other hand expresses her
currently disturbed mood, which is affected by her subjective opinions on her
surroundings. Both speakers depict a similar scene of morning experience, but both
portray different states of mind.

            Stafford’s poem is written in free verse
style that plays off an easy “In the moment” feel, which expresses Stafford’s thoughts during the early morning
walk. Poetic devices Stafford used
includes personification, alliteration, imagery, point of view, enjambment, and
onomatopoeia. Five A.M. is written to truly define the calm and tranquil vibe
of Stafford’s morning walk in first
person point of view. The meaning of Stafford’s
work is about his morning walk and how ponders the question of life. Stafford’s gentle and mystical mode of
speech is quite prominent in his approach to Five A.M. Five o’clock is
portrayed as a calm and peaceful time of day and many people also view this
part of the day as a positive and fresh start to a new day. Although Five A. M.
is a free verse style poem, it has narrative characteristics that come from Stafford’s use of enjambment in present
tense. “The air doesn’t stir”, gives and explanation on how there are no
current problems to be dealt with and ease the tension by giving off the
message that problems do arise, but are not permanent. Stafford’s freedom and carefree attitude sends the message that his
morning is an escape from anxiety.

            Bishop plays a unique style through her
use of stanzas and constant change in point of view. She writes in a
“confessional” writing style that emphasizes imagery that is precise and true
to life, which reflects her moral sense. The first stanza is from the Bishop’s point of view. The second
stanza is from the bird’s point of view. The third stanza is from the dog’s
point of view. The fourth stanza is back to the Bishop’s point of view. The Five Flights Up reveals some kind of hardship,
which can be interpreted in the fact that a flight of stairs symbolizes
overcoming a difficult journey or struggle. Five Flights Up is a lyric poem
because Bishop expresses her personal
feeling throughout the poem. Bishop
clearly gives of the sad feeling and seems to be going through some difficult
struggle. Bishop uses denotation in
which quavering to sound, speak or sting tremulously through the addition of
triple dashes. The ponderous style rambles Stafford’s
Five A.M. yet differs in that the loose, free feeling is replaced with great
weight or heavy hearted. Bishop is
also meticulous and is nitpicky and descriptive into all the precise details.
Personification is used multiple times along with sensory images. The tone of
Five Flights Up starts off calm and ponderous to anger and stress that Bishop seems to be going through during
the time of day. Tension of tone is important to Bishop as she clearly expresses her feelings towards her
surroundings. The poem starts in present tense and shifts into past tense in
the second to last line, to shift back again to present tense in the last line.
The dashes signify pauses in her poem. The stressful lifestyle of Bishop
seemingly radiates from her choice of words. Bishop’s yesterday, which delves into her unfortunate childhood.

poems start with the line “Still dark”, which emphasizes the slow process of
slowly escaping the drowsiness and into the real world fully awake. Stafford seems to relive himself of his
problems and ask where they have gone off to in such a way that proves his free
mindset. This free mindset conflicts with Bishop’s
problematic point in her life. Stafford
acknowledges problems in the sense that they exist but chooses to not let them
give him a struggle in his morning as peaceful as it is. Bishop is intimidated by her problems and is upset that they exist,
bothering her as they are. Her imagery is also quite potent compared to Stafford’s soft reminiscent description,
in that they are sharp and eerily cold. Bishop
presents herself in a way that her surroundings tower over her and she is at
victim while in Stafford’s poem he is
unbothered and without a care in the world. Both poems include the dog that
lives in the neighborhood. Stafford’s
view on the dog is an addition to family and increases the friendliness of the
morning walk. Bishops view differs in
that the dog runs while being scolded by its owner, evading its troubles unlike
how Bishop is unable to. Bishop is jealous of the dog’s inability
to feel shame because how stressful she is. She wants things to be taken care
of and to find a solution to her questions. Five Flights Up shares similarities
to a rant of common problems with personal feelings involved. Bishop’s 4 stanzas have a disorganized
order seemingly like her situation. Nine lines in the first stanza, five lines
in the second stanza, six lines in the third stanza, and another six lines in
her fourth and final stanza. Although they share the same time of day, Stafford begins with a clean relaxed mindset,
while Bishop on the other hand expresses
her clear negative feelings of having to go through another day with the reminder
of yesterday.

The two poets share perspectives on
opposite ends of the spectrum. Bishop
uses antithesis, which implies ironically into her envious attitude towards
morning, while personification contrasts Stafford’s
connection of personification with enjambment, which illustrates his
appreciation of his surroundings. Stafford
discusses the rejuvenating properties of morning, while Bishop focuses on her frustrated
attitude towards the morning in which she must face her problems again. Bishop is jealous of the simple beauty
of morning and feels like she is mocked by the bird who sits on his usual
branch free from restraints. Even from five flights up, Bishop cannot seem to escape her troubles of yesterday. Through
imagery and personification in free verse, Stafford
and Bishop proved completely
different views of what early morning means to them. Stafford feels refreshed whiles Bishop
wants to forget her past. Both poets use same techniques to create vastly
different poems. 


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