Which aspects of relationships are presented in the three poems we studied? References to “Piano” by D.H Lawrence, “Do not go gentle into that good night” by Dylan Thomas and “Hal-past two by U.A Fanthorpe
In the three poems we have studied: Sonnet 116 “ Let me not to the marriage” by William Shakespeare ; “My last Duchess” by Robert Browning; “If” by Rudyard Kipling, different aspects of relationships and love are explored in different forms: power, pride, eternity, love as a guiding force and paternal care. These poets use language, images, and structure to make their messages about love more clear and evident. The first poem I am going to analyze is “My Last Duchess”. It portrays the tragic epilogue of a loveless marriage between the strict, severe Duke of Ferrara, who chose “never to stoop”; and the sweet, outgoing, naive Duchess privileged by the noble honor of being given her husband’s “nine-hundred-years-old” name. The poem investigates issues that can be involved in relationships where power and ego takes over. The Duke wields an exaggerated oppressive power, which contracts with the friendly attitude of the Duchess towards inferior classes’ people. This became the central cause problem in the relationship: he disapproved of the Duchess “smiles” and blushes which “went everywhere”.
He expected her to behave with the same tremendous dignity as himself. The Duke wants to see his wife behaving in a way befitting her noble place in society. Perhaps even an obscure and sinister jealousy triggered by the Duchess’ constant kindness, which he did not expect from a character, who should have been entirely of his possession: “since none puts by the curtain I have drawn for you, but I”. The quotation illustrates how after her death he kept her smile and blush exclusively for himself- perhaps this was what he wanted while she was alive. The fact that she talked with men and “thanked” them the same way she treated the Duke himself obsessed him. His supremacy was totally put at same level of a peasant’s: “somehow-I know not how- as if she ranked My gift of a nine-hundred-years-old name With anybody’s gift”. In fact, the duke is a person who loves control, and who is perfectly conscious about the fact of his superior social class. He wants everything to be under his possession- this can be seen by the fact that he likes and admires a bronze sculpture of Neptune taming a sea-horse.
He enjoys anything involving control and power. A point that can also be connected to the teacher of “Half-past two” by U.A Fanthorpe trying to tower over the student. The structure of the poem is composed by a strict and elegant iambic pentameter, which help the reader realize about the terrific sense of control the Duke possesses. It is fixed in well-ordered system of riming couplets, yet the poem is full of enjambments which help the poem flow like a conversation. In fact, Robert Browning set the poem out as a dramatic monologue- it was intended to be performed to an imagined listener. This creates a very fluent tone, capable to indicate immediately any change of the speaker’s state of mind. For example, his growing irritation, even rage, with his former wife becomes clear with the caesura to slow down the tone, when in the 43rd verse he states”
And I choose Never to stoop. Oh sir…” The pause takes the poem into and angry edge. In fact when the Duke “gave commands”, the threat was very potent. The diction instantly points the change of tone: a recurrent assonance of the letter “s” comes out as an angry, sinister hiss and provides a sibilant sound. This transition with angry diction yet factual words also gives an image of the Duke as if he possessed no guilt and transmitting and unemotional shock. Browning also uses a As a result of this, as predicted, loveless marriages with no connection of ” true minds” like in the Sonnet 116 of William Shakespeare would have never become the typical love story with a happy ending. The Duke juxtaposed a vivid hint about her death with negotiation about marrying his next “object”. Therefore it all ended when” [he] gave commands”; and “all smiles stopped together”.
The second poem I am going to analyze is “If” by Rudyard Kipling. It illustrates a solution to life’s problems into one unique inspirational piece. This poem is a beautiful, personal goal for thoughtful readers who wish to be better people. It is an attempt to give a lesson in how to live: from the point of view of a father guiding his beloved son to become a “Man”. Naturally, we can also look at it coming from the point of view of any older man to a younger man- an emotional or spiritual father-son relationship. We can also deduce that the author wrote this poem directly to his children. Kipling was born in Bombay, India, in 1856. Although more than a hundred years passed since those wise phrases in “If” were penned, they can be applied even now and from a greater audience than the one originally intended. People, that nowadays, is less and less aware of their responsibilities and taken over by a society of greed and indifference.
People that if could strive to do even half of the things mentioned in the poem, would be far better people. “If” is a didactic poem, a work meant to give instruction. It has a rigid and controlled structure. It is written in iambic pentameter: an elegant construction of 11-syllable lines, with an extra, unstressed syllable. All of this tied up in four stanzas of eight rhyming lines, according to the pattern abab, cdcd; each referring to several specific traits to possess in different circumstances. This makes it easy to read and facilities memorization. The first section is about self-integrity and developing the proper attitudes about things. Kipling tries to teach us not to look down on ourselves, just because the others do: “if you can trust yourself when all men doubt you”. One will always find people who think differently from him, underestimate him or misjudge him. If millions of men are convinced about a foolish idea, it does not cease to be stupid. Therefore the quotation conveys one to have faith and confidence in himself and do what he think is right and just. Imagine having the serenity of being subject to criticism and stay calm and relaxed until the very end: “…being lied about, don’t deal in lies, or being hated, don’t give way to hating”.
Imagine one having to face all the injustice that trying to overwhelm him, to lose control. Kipling, with this statement reminds not to let others provoke us in doing something we know is wrong. Do not be easily influenced. Understand our value, but do not turn into arrogant. Pause and notice what Kipling does grammatically here: from the start. He composes the poem from a single repetition of “if”. The natural pattern for English is to state a condition thus, “if A, then B”. But Kipling is stating, “if A, if B, if C”. He’s piling on the conditions while delaying the consequence in a single long sentence. He builds up tension deliberately. That may also be the reason he calls the poem “If”. The second section is about overcoming the obstacles one encounters during his way. It is about following his dreams, fight for them, and strive to reach his goal. Whether he like it or not we are the cause of himself; he needs to move on, things are not going to get done by themselves- “if you can dream- and not make dreams your master”. The quotation also implies that we have to seize our opportunities when we have the chance, do not let it escape.
Distinguish and understand the right balance between being a thinker and a “Man”. Here the author has a really vivid imagination. He utilizes personification to promote caution against “impostors” such as “Triumph and Disaster”- capitalizing both words. He associates them to people who engage in deception under an assumed identity, charlatans. Unconsciously, both of them convince one to stop trying far more often than he usually expect. Frequently defeats can discourage his hopes and victories make him conceited and he permits them to influence him. Kipling reminds us that the world is not all a bed of roses. It is in fact, a miserable and despicable place and states that” if you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken twisted… or watch the things you gave your life to, broken..”. If one consent the world to influence him, it will get him on his knees and leave him with nothing forever. It can hit harder than anyone else.
Hence, it is not a matter of how hard a person hits, but is a matter of how he can withstand adversities, resist and to have the strength to rise again after being beaten into the ground. It shows a hard work ethic. Consequently Kipling introduces us to the section, that could be retained the most valuable. He starts off by writing an extended metaphor, similar in characteristics, but different in meaning to the last quotation:” If you can make one heap of all your winnings…” Substantially the counsel it brings is that life is to be enjoyed, whether money is to be spent. Take risks; make mistakes and break rules, the world is there to be experienced. Stay hungry; stay foolish as a remembrance of Steve Jobs’ wise words. Afterwards, the main advice that is conveyed by the sequent verse:” if you can force your heart and nerve and sinew To serve your turn long after they are gone” is to never give up and strive to overcome your limits.
Kipling could have just written “your body”, everybody know that it has a heart, nerves and muscles. However, by listing each one, he gives us a clear image of its member as if they were all united as a team with a common objective. However the real message that the author wants us to conceive is to be determined. Something that when our physical strengths abandon us, give us the force to “Hold on”. It can be the “Will” to reach a goal; or the Desire to win; or even the contempt of losing. Something that prevents us from stopping, ignoring the consequences. By capitalizing the word will, he conveys the reader that about its strength and power . Finally each verse of the last stanza contributes to consolidate the long-awaited conclusion. It starts by speaking about being able to work with anyone: from “Kings” to “Crowds” and not changing who one is and what he stands for. Being able to keep some distances and qualities that he only possesses; without being influenced by his surroundings. And “if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you” underlines the lesson that often the people, who one loves most, are the one who can hurt him more deeply.
Major qualities as independence and self-supporting are advocated by the statement:” if all men count with you, but none too much”. Kipling creates a blueprint for personal integrity. It is about what a teenager might call “maturity”- acting like a grown-up and seeing the real value of things; without being dependent to anyone. Conclusively the author uses the metaphor:”if you can fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds’ worth distance run” to instruct the reader to fulfill every moment of his life in as enthusiastic and energetic way as possible.
He suggests making every seconds of one’s life memorable; having no regrets. This aspect can also be referred to “do not go gentle into that good night” of Dylan Thomas, where men strive to fulfill their remaining time with their very best. And finally, he comes to the long-awaited consequence and reveals that if all the aspects had been covered, “Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it, And-which is more- you’ll be a Man, my son!” “If” is also a poem of imagination. Kipling tries to find the perfection in the human being, where nothing can harm it. A stage where the one truly gains everything; and Kipling wishes that for his son.
In sonnet 116, William Shakespeare explores the true nature of love, trying to work out both what real love is and is not. He says that this feeling is eternal, not affected by time, alterations and life’ troubles that couples need to combat. Sonnet 116 is presented with the ordinary fourteen lines made up of three quatrains and concluding with a challenging couplet. It is written in iambic pentameter with a rhyme scheme of abab cdcd efef gg. William Shakespeare frames its discussions of the passion of love within a restrained and disciplined rhetorical structure. The tone of the poem is also very fluent and smooth, filled with various enjambments. Moreover the simplicity of the language and poetic devices act as if wanting to draw the reader deeper into the theme. In the opening lines the speaker defines what the ideal love would be, by referring it as a “marriage of true minds”. It is a relationship based on trust and understanding, which has come to a stage where minds are entirely tied together. The writer describes it as being perfect and constant, even if it encounters changes in the loved one.
He denies that love is true, when it “alters when alteration finds” or “bends with the remover to remove”. In choosing to describe love as this kind of force Shakespeare is able to convince the reader that love is indeed strong enough to fight the departure of a lover or a simple alteration. Yet, in the second quatrain he positively defines what real love is, whether the first one was based on what it was not.. The metaphor: “it is an ever fixed mark that looks on tempests and is never shaken”, represents it as an unshakeable guiding light to its “wandering barks”. The tempests portray the life’s troubles and people will experience, much the “winter” of “Piano” by D.H Lawrance. Shakespeare compares it to a seamark that navigators use to conduct their course- The North Star- whose altitude, or “height” has been measured although its value in indefinite.
It is presented as an inestimable entity, whose force is tremendous and capable to give a channel to the lost ones. In the third quatrain William Shakespeare again describes what love is not: it is not subject to time although “rosy lips ad cheeks” have to face the “bending sickle” of time- which is also utilized as a synecdoche referring to death. Furthermore time is personified by referring it as “him” and compare also to Death. In fact the author wants to demonstrate that true love remains constant and does not alter “with brief hours and weeks” and survives “even to the edge of doom”- the Doomsday.
To conclude the poem, with absolute conviction William Shakespeare challenges the readers to disprove his interpretation of love. He insists that this is the ideal of “true” love- and if love was mortal, changing and, temporary then “no man ever loved” or he would deny what he has written and the existence of it. By employing this paradox he strengthens the theme cleverly. What really gives Sonnet 116 its stimulating power is not its complexity; instead, it is his linguistic and emotional confidence.
Courtney from Study Moose
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