Poetry Analysis of “Incident in a Rose Garden”

            Poets utilize many types of
figurative language to reinforce their message to readers for a better
understanding of human nature. In “Incident in a Rose Garden,” Donald
Justice depicts the different human reactions to death in what appears to be
the middle ages. Justice incorporates stylistic devices in his poem to illustrate
that death is an unstoppable force that takes everyone at one point or another
regardless of age, sex, or race.

            The inclusion of the personification
of death enforces Justice’s motif that death cannot be stopped in spite of
outside factors. For instance, when the gardener encounters death he describes
him as being “thin as a scythe” and having “a black coat on, black gloves” and
“a black broad hat” (3-6). Justice successfully paints a picture of death and utilizes
the gardener’s fear of Death’s unexpected arrival to further his point. This
representation of death paints him as being sinister and spooky and highlights
the fear brought out by the gardener. In addition, after the master declares
that he “welcomes only friends” in his garden, Death speaks directly to him
and claims that the master’s father was once his friend (19). Death’s lengthy dialogue
helps further establish his concept and paints him less sinister than the gardener’s
earlier description. By giving Death a voice, Justice allows Death to inform
the audience of his true motive of taking the younger, arrogant master away
rather than the fearful, elderly gardener. Justice’s ability to give non-living
objects an essence supports the universal concept that one’s life can end when
they least expect it.

            By bringing death to life, Justice
supports the overall notion that fate determines one’s demise rather than length
of life. As a result, Justice successfully illustrates human nature when faced
with the frightening knowledge of their extinction. 

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