More to Life than Love

In Edna St. Vincent Millay’s Sonnet XXX, she contemplates how necessary is love actually is in people’s lives. She begins her sonnet by stating that “Love is not all: it is not meat nor drink Nor slumber nor a roof against the rain” (Millay lns 1-2), saying that love cannot provide the three basic human necessities of food, water, and shelter, emphasizing them through iambic pentameter. But this is an obvious statement that the emotion of love, cannot provide these physical things. The rest of the poem states similar obvious facts, like love cannot heal broken bones, in an attempt to show the facts about what love really is, thinking that men and women have been blinding in their quests to feel loved. There is more to life than loving one person and being with them for the rest of your life.

“The Second Coming” is arguably an apocalyptic poem, but people tend to get confused about apocalypses not always having to be bad; they could simply be times of great change (one world ending and another beginning and so on and so forth). It could be interesting to consider apocalypses as a genre and whether you think this is an apocalyptic poem and if so, how and why or not?

I consider “The Second Coming” as an apocalyptic poem because of the author’s life-ending choice of words like “mere anarchy is loosened upon the world” (Yeats).  The title “The Second Coming” can be a reference to biblical story of Jesus’s return, which is a sign of God’s apocalypse, as well. To many, the story of Jesus’s return is a blessing because every spiritual believer would be sent to Heaven. However, Yeat questions the logic in this optimistic way of thinking and considers “the second coming” as a more grim outlook. This is because he ends his poem with the phrase “…slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?” (Yeat). For context, Bethlehem is seen as a holy center for those who are saved by Jesus. By the author adding the question mark at the end of the phrase shows his skepticism in whether or not those who die in the apocalypse will actually be saved by this higher being in the “second coming”.  Therefore, this poem is a perfect example of an apocalyptic genre since all hope is nonexistent.

“The Second Coming” is arguably an apocalyptic poem, but people tend to get confused about apocalypses not always having to be bad; they could simply be times of great change (one world ending and another beginning and so on and so forth). It could be interesting to consider apocalypses as a genre and whether you think this is an apocalyptic poem and if so, how and why or not?

The Second Coming by the name is apocalyptic in its’ own right. The second coming of Jesus, meant by the name is a major change which can be effective for hundreds of years. In the poem, much of the poem can be described in a negative, feral light. A lion’s body with a head of human is illustrated as well as desert birds. Common association could be wasteland and turmoil given the portrayal and words in the poem such as “darkness”, “vex”, “blood-dimmed”. I believe since there is a major change happening and the author’s descriptive uses of words, that this is an apocalyptic poem.

Man and Nature in “The Oven Bird”

In “The Oven Bird” by Robert Frost, the speaker describes the bird as a singer that everyone has heard. The bird’s singing is representative of the change of seasons in the poem as well. The songs “makes the solid tree trunks sound again” and the bird says that “the early petal-fall is past.” When fall comes, the bird stops singing until the seasonal cycle begins again, which can be a metaphor for the cycle of life and death, which is a natural occurance. The speaker then refers to the bird as “he”, where nature and man are alike, if not, the same.

Loss in Bishop’s “One Art”

The main theme of Bishop’s “One Art” seems to be that loss is something everyone must come to terms with even though it may be hard to handle. It teaches us valuable lessons in life no matter how small or large the loss. In the first stanza, Bishop states, “so many things seem filled with the intent to be lost that their loss is no disaster.” If ‘things’ will be lost, why have things you value or create meaningful relationships if you know they will be lost? One answer could be Bishop is telling the audience you never had ‘anything’ in the first place. Another answer may be loss is inevitable and something you should expect to deal with in order to move on in life. In addition, the word ‘disaster’ connotes both catastrophe and failure. Also, the opposite of ‘disaster’ is a blessing. By making it clear loss is not a ‘disaster,’ Bishop lets the audience know loss is not a catastrophe nor a failure, but a blessing. It is part of life. This would therefore connect back to the main theme of loss being a lesson and something everyone has to face.

“When You Are Old” is obviously a very romantic poem but it is also about aging.

This poem is really interesting and displays the idea of reminiscing on life before the aging occurred. There are lines that look back at the image of this person’s younger self. For instance, “[…] and dream of the soft look/ Your eyes had once,” gives an image that as time progressed the eyes grew wearier and heavier, but it used to be lighter and there was not an appearance of being older. Therefore, this can also be reflecting that with aging comes a change in how everyone views and interacts with you. It is kind of a message to appreciate things beforehand because there will be a time where it won’t be the same.

“When You Are Old” is obviously a very romantic poem but it is also about aging.

In “When You Are Old”, Yeats tries to persuade the reader to imagine themselves when they have grown old. Yeats uses this scenario to commentate on a person’s social and individual perception in the past, and how that perception has changed when they lose their youthfulness. He mentions how a young person is not loved for who they are, but they are loved for the beauty and grace that society perceives of them. Yeats is critical of this person for being too caught up with the attention they receive and ignoring those who actually have true love for them, regardless of age and regardless of beauty. This dismissal of true love eventually leads to the person being alone in their old age, showing how their lack of commitment in the past will lead to their isolation in the future.

Consider the relationship between man and nature (and perhaps more specifically the relationship between the poet and the bird) in “The Oven Bird.”

In the “Oven Bird” by Robert Frost, the relationship between man and nature is represented as if, they are one entity. Frost sees how the changes in nature, almost represent that of life. He sees the Oven Bird as more than just a bird. He even goes as far as to say that the bird “makes the solid tree trunks sound again” (line 3), which reflects how the song of the bird brings life to what may seem like an ordinary part of nature. He talks about the seasons changing, and how the songs of the birds demonstrate that.  During the spring and summer, the birds are at their peak, in song as well, just as how the flowers are in full bloom. However, as fall and winter approaches, the birds will soon cease to sing, just as how the flowers and trees are in decline. Frost compares the bird’s songs that change with the seasons, to the life and stages of man. As winter approaches, it almost represents the final stages of life, just as how nature becomes lifeless as the birds stop singing in the wintertime. Frost also acknowledges that the birds bring life to nature like how poets bring life to the words they use to write poems.

Consider both the comedic and tragic aspects (and the potential relation between the two) in Frost’s poem “Mending Wall.”

The narrator seems to be quite attached to the aforementioned wall. Perhaps the wall serves as a physical reminder of a tragic event in his/her life.  When I read the poem, it reminded me of the narrator’s childhood as s/he probably grew up around the wall and is afraid of the destruction of his/her memories. What’s tragic about this is that everyone had a different upbringing but don’t know about each other’s upbringing and are unintentionally destroying the memories of the narrator. What seems how to lighten up the mood, however, is the back and forth interaction between the narrator and his neighbor. Tragedies need a bit of comedic relief and this served the job.

Consider both the comedic and tragic aspects (and the potential relation between the two) in Frost’s poem “Mending Wall.”

“The Mending Wall” establishes two very different emotional narratives. On one hand, the irony of the two neighbors’ conflicting opinions on the necessity of the wall can be considered comedic. It appears that the narrator’s neighbor is being overly dramatic in his advocation for the wall, while the narrator is on the polar opposite side of the argument. In this sense it is kind of comedic, and it establishes a character relationship similar to that of Tom and Jerry, or any other duo that are constantly going back and forth with each other. On the other hand, the neighbor’s also being very serious when he is fighting for the necessity of the wall. It brings on a tone of isolationism. Especially in today’s society, where polarization and division has become so prevalent, it is notably tragic to see a character in a poem expressing such relevant emotions/ views.