Dangers and response Essay
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This sense of differing power in differing scales is reinforced when Rosenberg identifies himself with the wasps’ situation, sensing his own vulnerabilities as he lives “in an alien and gigantic universe”. The poetical voice may have absolute power over the wasps; but the poet is only a small part of a “gigantic” reality; something inherently vulnerable to danger. The poet belays to a reality which he is just as alien to as the wasp is to the mailbox; and the poet , too, has his “… fragile cradle… on the edge of danger”.
The poet might feel to be the master of his domain- but, as earlier discussed, it is a weakened domain and it is a place where the poet is very vulnerable. The metaphor has this idea of danger inherent as the home is on the “edge”- almost as If it is on the brink of collapse over a recipe into an unknown abyss of danger. The use of setting and scale creates the message for the reader that mastery of a domicile does not translate into invulnerability.
Within this pessimism, however, there is a strand of optimism, almost urging the reader to recognise this reality but to accept it and live within it. The idea that the wasps were not stopped by the “sore displeasure of the US Mail” is an example. The “sore displeasure” could both be from the aggravation of the wasps, or, indeed, from the soreness of being stung. There is a sense that the wasps ay know that they are overmatched; indeed, that they can only cause “displeasure” which seems to suggest only an aggravation is testament to this. Uet the wasps continue; they may understand their vulnerability but they do not surrender. There is from this image a recognition of humanity’s situation; that whilst mankind, too, may be fundamentally vulnerable, there is still the basic stubbornness to continue.
This strand of hope continues throughout the poem. The wasps may know their vulnerabilities; yet still they are “savagely a-hum”. The onomatopoeic quality of “a-hum” gives almost an indifference to this metaphor; the wasps may be overmatched, but they continue their existence. Their strength within their nest is highlighted through the adverb “savagely” tends to describe powerful violence, which is often equated with strength.
The wasps recognise their weakness but continue; they do not “bother to attend” to the danger that they are in. The sense of indifference and nonchalance of this image that seems more to mortal danger is the final recognition of this hope. Recognise the vulnerabilities, but continue; and the poet identifies within the wasps a human response to the danger. Understand the danger, but do not let it define a life. By the end, the poet has recognised this connection between the reality of the wasps and humans that extends beyond our inherent weaknesses.
Thus, ‘The Wasps Nest’ is a poem that explores the conflict between strength and weakness using the realities, dangers and response of wasps as a microcosm for the human world. It is a poem of contrast and illusion, where apparent strength becomes weakness. But is it also a very human poem. It studies the mirage of strength that we portray around ourselves and sees within this image the fragilities of man. It is a poem of our lives and reality within Rosenberg’s words. It is a poem of the human condition that illuminates ourselves and with which Rosenberg shows a profound truth of our existence.