“Echoes of Goodbye” by Patricia A. Queen is a skilfully crafted poem that describes the hardships of someone who lost their father at a young age and is recollecting memories of their haunting past. The prevalent themes discussed in the poem, concerning death, loss and suffering, are enhanced by the many poetic devices employed by the poet. The first stanza adopts a foreboding tone and utilises vivid, striking imagery to enhance its meaning. Emotion and passion is what really sets this poem alight and brings it to life.
In the first two lines, powerful, descriptive phrases such as “endless footsteps” and “grieving people” enrich the ideas and themes of loss, and create a reminiscent air typical of the gothic genre. The poet uses personification to evoke a melancholy yet cryptic aura: “The black clouds hide the crying sky” (3). The first stanza concludes by establishing an image of sadness in the reader’s mind – “Amid those timeworn, lonely echoes of goodbye”. This quote further implies a haunting, echoing tone which is maintained throughout the poem.
The rhyming pattern used in the first four lines is AABB, and this particular pattern emphasises the rhythm of the poem. Furthermore, the imagery in first stanza implies the setting is a gravegrard, with the “endless footsteps” and “timeworn echoes of goodbye” suggesting the speaker is in a place of sadness and death. These incredibly meaningful first four lines set the scene for the rest of the poem. The second verse of this poem introduces a different type of narration by recalling memories in the form of an anecdote.
This is seen in the first line, “A young man lived here with a wife, a child, a song”. The cumulative listing of his most dear assets reiterates all the earthly possessions he has left behind. The main ideas discussed in this stanza are isolation and abandonment. This is especially seen in the last line, “Left them in a dark, black and shadowed shroud”. The deliberate alliteration of the ‘sh’ sound heightens the tension and displays use of another poetic technique.
This line also makes reference to the undercurrent of sadness and sorrow that lie beneath the surface of the poem. The third stanza explores how pain and guilt can be a central experience of the theme of loss and death, and this is specifically expressed through the symbolic association of the child in the poem, to ideas of innocence and ignorance. This is blatantly seen through the clever positioning of a rhetorical question in the last line: “Why hadn’t he told he told me goodbye?
” This one line alone directly questions the reader and plants seeds of doubt, especially when viewed from a naive child’s perspective. This poem is also an allegory for the persona’s struggle, longing and loss. This effect is achieved by incorporating a personal touch seen in line 9 & 10: “They buried my daddy…I cried as I held Momma’s hand. ” The painful imagery such as in the line, “Those tears on her face revealed all the pain” allows the emotion to seep through the language used, to strike chords of sorrow in our hearts.
The reference to the funeral in line 13 forces the reader to associate it with death and also rouses sad connotations, which is the intended purpose of the poem. In this stanza the poet also breaks the original four-lined stanza form and alters the rhyming pattern to ABAB/CDCD. This technique exemplifies the variety of the poem and introduces a new pulse. By arranging the ideas in the third stanza as a series of nostalgic yet aching memories, the poet reveals all the raw emotion and grief experienced by the persona which adds authenticity and a realistic edge to the poem.
The fourth stanza is identical to the first, and this has deliberately been done to create a suspenseful and ominous ending. The circular structure of the poem brings us back to where the poem began, to end it on a sinister and unpromising note. In this stanza he technique employed by the poet is foreshadowing, since it leaves us unsure of events to come and places a cloud of uncertainty in our minds. Lastly the poem draws to a close, “Amid those timeworn, lonely echoes of goodbye. ” The repeated sensory imagery provides a fitting conclusion to an exceptional poem.
Courtney from Study Moose
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