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“In Training” By Helen Lawson Essay

Helen Lawson uses a number of sound and picture devices in the poem “In Training”. How do they help us to enhance her description of the swimmer and the river?We have all seen a swimmer racing at all sports competition before, “In Training”, by Helen Lawson brings back the thoughts in our memory but moves the background setting to a calm, smooth river in the morning. The poem uses a series of sound and picture devices to help us imagine the swimmer powering through the water. Lawson explains the swimmer’s movements and uses extensive comparisons to help produce detailed pictures in the reader’s mind.

Similes are a comparison between two people, places or things. This helps to create a picture in the reader’s mind of what the poet is portraying. There are a number of similes in the poem,”…leaves/ that hang like a veil”, refer to a series of branches drooping over the river to resemble a veil. “Like a velvet glove”, describes the river gently folding over her as she dives into the cool water of the river. “…velvet glove”, pictures the water grasping onto her as she streamlines underwater. These similes help to describe the image of the swimmer by relating to similar objects.

Metaphors are used effectively in this poem to make a more direct comparison. These metaphors help in describing the swimmer and her surrounding with more detail. “Over the glass ribbon” portrays the river’s water to look clear and “glassy like in appearance”. “Then she is an engine” describes the swimmer powering through the water. Just like an engine, as she swims through the water her body moves in a repetitive and rhythmic way. Also, for an engine to function all the parts need to work together. The swimmer uses her legs and arms together to swim strongly. The metaphors used are very useful to help picture the swimmer in ones mind.

Personification is used to make an object seem human like, even though it is non living, Lawson uses personification to give the impression of human feelings and movements. “Dawn Whispers” describes the sounds of the morning leaves and trees rustling in the light and fragile wind. “The river/ gently enfolds her” reflects on the river closing in and filling the empty spaces around the swimmer as she dives into the water. “…Morning’s secrets”, describes happenings that only happen in the morning, some of the mornings hidden secrets that can only be seen in the early hours of the day. Personification is an effective form of describing movements and action of non living things, Lawson uses personification very well in this poem.

Onomatopoeia is a sound device used in poems to give the impression of sound and effects. “Stirring the leaves” gives the impression of leaves rustling in the wind. Another example of onomatopoeia is “… bursts through the surface”, this sentence gives the sound of a big rush of water as she surfaces. “…explosion of action and sound”, portrays water been splashed up by the powerful body movements. The swimmer and the water’s movements and sounds are clearly shown in the text and can be visualized easily.

“In Training” is effective at portraying the swimmers burning desire to win. The poem helps us to feel the swimmer’s want to succeed by starting slowly, complimenting the calm setting of the story, but then building up to large and powerful words. This follows the pace of the swimmer. The swimmer starts slowly, but by the end is powering through the water, splashing up droplets of water that catch the sunshine. I can greatly reflect on this poem, times in the past I had the same passion, but also currently in my life, I have the same burning desire to win and succeed.

References:

– “In Training”, Helen Lawson (Poem)- Helen Lawson – An Analysis, Unknown Author (2005)


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