William Hathaway is a combat war veteran who has written many novels regarding war and men (Rommel). He usually takes mature and intimate subjects and topics. However, one of his poems entitled “Oh, Oh” catches none of these ideas. This is what makes the poem different. Instead of the usual subjects, Hathaway tackles a very childlike mirth in this poem. Although the use of words is quite complex and thought-provoking, the poem speaks of the young love blooming in the midst of a created world.
This passionate poem with its rich imagery is an elegant example of two figures of speech, namely, irony and onomatopoeia. The imagery constructed by Hathaway in the poem is evident in many of the descriptions he has used. In the poem, through the use of diction and tone, the poet expresses the loving emotion that he feels towards his girl. He tries to take hold of the precious moment where he and his girl are alone in a field of grass. Furthermore, images of their dreams are also illustrated vividly. This was done by the use of the train and the railroad.
As the train nears them, the dream of him being president fills the moment. The connection between the man and the girl is also established by the girl’s agreement to the dream, even adding, “and me first lady” (Hathaway 574). The relationship thus exhibited by the pair seems to deepen more as the passing train travels farther. Another very good method of enriching the imagery of the poem is actually evident on the poem’s title. Analyzing the title, it gives an impression of a calm and yet emotional air during the moment.
Although the passing train is somewhat fast and the moment is short-lived, the poet effectively slows down the ticking of the clock due to the way he uses words that linger into the reader’s mind. For this reason, the author paints a nice image of the scene. One of the tools that made the poem’s imagery successfully depicted is the author’s use of different figures of speech. One of them is the onomatopoeia which is very obvious in most of the lines. In the first place, onomatopoeia is a figure of speech where imitation of natural sounds by words is employed (Microsoft Encarta).
As can be seen from the title, the poem is seemingly full of onomatopoeic words. One such instance is the line, “moocows chomping daisies” (Hathaway 574). The animals were described by the use of the sounds they make, thus, creating a more vivid image as if the reader hears the natural sounds at that moment himself. Another such example is exhibited by “the choo-choos light” where the poet tries to let the reader hear the coming of the train with that sound characteristic of the train (Hathaway 574). As can be observed, although the poet did not really used the word train, it was already understood as such.
What makes it different is that it gives a childlike touch to the poem. This effort is a good way of implying that the lovers are in their youthful years. The overall effect of the deliberate use of onomatopoeic verses thus gives the youthful spring to the poem. Besides the use of onomatopoeia, the author also uses the figure of speech known as irony. In this type, also known as paradox, the author tries to articulate contradicting ideas to drive a point or portray different images (Microsoft Encarta). Interestingly, the author does not actually use irony literally.
Instead, the kind of irony used in the poem is that of situational irony, that means, there are two images that are depicted which complementarily contrast each other. This can be clearly explained by looking at the two circumstances that are represented in the poem. The first of the two images is that of nature. As can be seen from the opening verses of the poem, the author narrates the image of nature in grassland. He even tried to include grazing animals in his narration. Thus, the image is rendered as a natural environment where the living creatures such as “the moocows chomping daises” and the “grass stems” are thriving (Hathaway 574).
On the other hand, the other image is that of the created world. This man-made image includes that of the rail road, the train and even those “Hells Angels” mentioned in the poem (Hathaway 574). All these things are created in the mechanical world of man, thus setting an unnatural environment. This mechanical image is the opposite image of the natural surrounding describe earlier. Therefore, such mechanical image and natural surrounding is a utilization of irony. What makes it more interesting is that the young couple seems to bridge these two images.
The “arm waves to us from the black window” is a connection between these two contrasting images (Hathaway 574). The use of figures of speech in the poem makes its richer literary content. It gives an impression that the author played with appropriate words to create a youthful touch to the whole piece. The thing that sets the poem apart is its stillness in the midst of a fast-passing moment. The imagery was a masterpiece mainly contributed by the use of two figures of speech, specifically, onomatopoeia and irony. Using these classic tools of poetry, the author creates a poem full of emotion and passion.
Courtney from Study Moose
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