Read the English translation of the following poem by the Armenian poet Zahrad. It will aid in your comprehension if you take note of the poem’s title. Then, in one or two carefully constructed paragraphs, explore how rhythm is created in the poem and how it interacts with other elements such as imagery to create an effect—an impact on the audience. In your response, be sure to describe what feeling, effect, or impact the rhythm and other elements achieve.
The Woman Cleaning LentilsA lentil, a lentil, a lentil, a stone.A lentil, a lentil, a lentil, a stone.A green one, a black one, a green one, a black. A stone.A lentil, a lentil, a stone, a lentil, a lentil, a word.Suddenly a word. A lentil.A lentil, a word, a word next to another word. A sentence.A word, a word, a word, a nonsense speech.Then an old song.Then an old dream.A life, another life, a hard life. A lentil. A life.An easy life. A hard life. Why easy? Why hard?Lives next to each other. A life. A word. A lentil.A green one, a black one, a green one, a black one, pain.A green song, a green lentil, a black one, a stone.A lentil, a stone, a stone, a lentil. 1|
I believe the rhythm is set by the repetition of short units. For example “a len/til, a len/til, a len/til, a stone”. So the base rhythm for this specific quotation would be anapestic tetrameter. I believe the title is tied into the poem through a metaphor. The repetition of how a lentil (plant) is talked about in the poem I believe is talking about the woman’s job; how it is repetitive and ordinary. The imagery in the poem reinforces this metaphor I believe through the quotation “a green one, a black one, a green one, a black. A stone”. When the quotation is said a second time it gives the reader an image of the “pain” the woman faces with her difficult job.
The woman faces a “hard” life as a peasant. I feel the rhythm and imagery work together sort of as I explained in the last paragraph. They connect together through the metaphor of cleaning and how repetitive the woman’s job is. The effect it has on the audience is that the poem essentially balances
on interest and dullness. The interest is reading the poem and understanding it, and the dullness is the content of the poem, and how we know the woman’s life is very dull and repetitive. The dullness of the poem is kept to a minimum by keeping the poem so short, otherwise us as the audience would lose interest in the poem.
In a quick analysis of the poem, the woman is doing a boring, repetitive job and becomes one with the ‘rhythm’. While she is doing her mindless tasks, in rhythm, her thoughts are wandering over the life she’s living, including her dreams and her pains.